WORKS and housing minister Babatunde Fashola has urged his party the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to honour its zoning formula when picking its presidential candidate for the 2023 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.
With 2023 fast approaching, jostling for the presidency has already begun, with the southeast geo-political zone in particular, insisting that it is its turn to produce the next president. 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.
Wading into the debate, Mr Fashola described the decision to zone the presidency as the core of the agreement reached by APC founding fathers prior to the 2015 elections. Last week, Ebonyi State’s Governor David Umahi’s defected to the APC from the PDP, saying his old party is not keen and had never zoned the presidency to the southeast since the restoration of civil rule in 1999.
Last week, APC leaders led by caretaker committee chairman and Yobe State’s Governor Mai Mala Buni’s visit to former President Goodluck Jonathan. This has also generated speculations that the ruling party might be wooing Dr Jonathan to defect and become its candidate in 2023.
Mr Fashola said: “The truth is that what makes an agreement spectacular is the honour in which it is made, not whether it is written. If it was written, there would be no court cases or breach of contract because it’s a document that is written and signed.
“The private agreement you make with your brother and sister should not be breached. It must be honoured.”
He acknowledged that zoning is not in the party’s constitution but insisted that the party leaders had agreement on zoning when the APC was being formed. Mr Fashola likened political parties to clubs where you write agreements just like a social club and you can decide that it is the youngest person who will be the chairman of the club or if it is the oldest person or the next female or the next male.