NIGERIA’S ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has tacitly zoned the 2023 presidency to the south of the country as President Muhammadu Buhari and the party’s governors reached an agreement yesterday after weeks of uncertainty.
Over recent weeks, the party has been torn apart by disagreements over how to proceed with the 2023 presidential elections. 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. Since the return to democracy in 1999, the southwest has produced President Olusegun Obasanjo and the south-south President Goodluck Jonathan, so come 2023, the presidency should automatically go to the southeast.
However, candidates have emerged from all over the country and to resolve the matter, President Buhari geld a meeting with the APC governors at the presidential villa yesterday. Among the agreements reached were the zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket of the party to the south of the country.
This meeting also ratified the March 26 national convention date as fixed by the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee and explored the option of consensus in picking candidates for various positions. All the 19 governors also agreed to swap offices held between the north and the south of the country, meaning that all offices occupied by northerners over the last eight years, will go to the south and vice visa.
In essence, this means the south will produce the next presidential candidate of the APC since the incumbent is from the north. It also means that the national chairmanship will go to the north since the last occupant, Adams Oshiomhole, is from the south.
Also, at the meeting President Buhari directed the party leadership to explore the option of consensus, among other options in the choice of its national chairman, in line with the party’s tradition. Kaduna State’s Governor Nasir el-Rufai, said contrary to reports in the media of division among APC governors, agreement had been reached on zoning formula.
Governor el-Rufai said: “We have agreed a zoning formula for all the six geo-political zones. Essentially, northern zone will have the positions the south have had in the last eight years, and vice versa. It is a very simple, equitable and fair formula.
“We will now go back and consult at the zonal levels and look at the positions that are available and the process of the convention preparation will be started in earnest. So, by the grace of God, on the 26th of March, we would have done our national convention.”
Governor Simon Lalong, the chairman of Northern Governors Forum and Plateau State governor dismissed fears that the ruling party will collapse at the end of President Buhari’s tenure. Among the 18 governors that attended the meeting were those of Yobe, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Cross River, Kaduna, Lagos, Borno, Niger, Gombe, Osun, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kano, Imo, Kogi, Ogun and Plateau states.
Absent were the governors of Ondo, Katsina and Zamfara states. However, the outgoing deputy governor of Anambra State was also in attendance.