AFENIFERE leader Chief Ayo Adebanjo has thrown his weight behind the idea of the southeast geo-political zone producing Nigeria’s president in 2023 saying it is the turn of Ndigbo to produce the country’s next leader.
Although not constitutional, Nigeria’s component parts have a gentleman’s agreement that the presidency will rotate between the north and the south of the country. President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure will end in 2023 and being a Fulani northern Muslim, it is expected that the next president will come from southern Nigeria.
Each half of the country is made up of three geo-political zones, which in the south is made up of the southeast, south-south and southwest geo-political zones. However, since the return to democracy in 1999, the southwest has produced President Olusegun Obasanjo. while the south-south has produced President Goodluck Jonathan, so the next president should come from the southeast.
Backing this position, saying it is only fair, Chief Adebanjo, the leader of pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, said it is in the spirit of federal character and equity for Ndigbo to produce the next president of Nigeria. Adebanjo, 94, argued that the southwest produced former President Obasanjo who led for eight years and vice president Yemi Osinbajo who has served for almost eight years.
He added that the south-south geo-political zone had also produced the president in the person of Goodluck Jonathan who was in office from 2010 to 2015. he therefore queried why the southeast is being denied the presidency this time around.
Chief Adebanjo said: “How can you say rotation in the north and south and when it comes to the south, it would be southwest and south-south every time? Is the southeast not part of the south? What is the moral we are talking about?
“Is it not the southwest that has produced Obasanjo for eight years and Osinbajo for another eight years as vice president? The south-south has served its own. Is the southeast not part of the south? That is the question we should answer.”
According to Chief Adebanjo the federal character concept was introduced to accommodate the north, so he wondered why concessions could not be made for the southeast which has been marginalised. He added: “Is it not to accommodate the north that we put the federal character in the constitution, to accommodate less developed areas?
“It doesn’t help the unity of this country if anybody is talking about merit now. It is because of the heterogeneity of the country to keep us together that the question of this rotation comes in, to accommodate ourselves as much as possible.
“Why do you want to overlook that now? Coming to the south for the 2023 presidential candidate is the equity, moral and principle, except we are deceiving ourselves.”