By Olusegun Olanrewaju
In yet another chance in the nation’s history, it appears now that the odds favour the South to produce the President in 2023. But that, pundits say, depends on the deftness with which forces from the south manage the fallouts on internal contradictions tearing the soul of the geopolitical zones.
The southern advantage in the present run follows the recent zoning of the national chairmanship of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) to the North-Central. The major opposition Peoples Democratic Party had earlier zoned the same ticket to the North-Central which produced Dr Iyorchia
The North, which often plays as a ‘united front’ on the political stage, has had eight-year tenancy at Aso Rock, the seat of power, in the nation’s capital, Abuja, with the Muhammadu Buhari presidency.
In between the lines, political leaders have been voicing their challenge of late, crisscrossing the breadth of the country, harping that there was an, indeed, unwritten code that power should rotate in turns between the south and the north as a bloc.
Eminent Ijaw leader and statesman, Edwin Clark, ‘bore a witness’ to this recently while speaking on an interview with a television station, TVC, where he informed of a power arrangement at constitutional conferences that, in the interest of national survival, power should rotate between the north and south.
According to him, the arrangement foreclosed which of the zones: South-West, South-East, or South-South, should rally their enclaves to earn the presidency.
However, despite this alluded power arrangement, the northern elements in the presidential race have been firing on all cylinders, openly raising their game and warming up for the presidency once more.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who has since assumed what is perceived as a serial runner profile in presidential runs, was in Abeokuta, Ogun State, to rally the camp of his former boss, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, to canvass for the proverbial blessing to re-contest on the PDP platform.
Atiku was even so confident that he called for a challenge from the youths to contest alongside himself in the race.
He expressed assurance that he would eventually emerge as the PDP presidential flag bearer in the 2023 general elections, saying, “Have I ever failed to get a ticket? I’m confident that I will still get it.”
Asked for his reaction to the call for the emergence of younger presidential candidates, Atiku responded, “Let the youths compete now. It is a competition. It is democracy.”
• Wike: Outcome of PDP primaries will shock Nigerians
In a swift response to Atiku’s comment, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said the outcome of the PDP presidential primary will surprise Nigerians.
He said whoever that emerges of all the aspirants should rest assured that the entire party will rally around and make sure that he wins the 2023 presidential election.
Wike, while speaking in Port Harcourt, said the comment by former Vice President and PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar that he will always clinch the party could amount to taking convention delegates for granted. “I didn’t expect him frankly speaking to say that he will always take the ticket of the party. That is going too far and taking the delegates for granted.”
Wike said he was committed to doing anything that will ensure PDP returns to power in 2023, and begin once again the process of rebuilding the nation after years of All Progressives Congress (APC) poor governance.
The Rivers State governor, who urged PDP members to resist making divisive utterances, declared that the outcome of the party’s presidential election will shock many.
“People should watch, there will be a shock as far as PDP convention is a concern. People should watch what is going to happen. People like to underrate so many persons and it is not good in politics.”
• Yahaya Bello’s supporters intensify campaigns
Also, the campaign train of Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, a youth and women enthusiast, was at the weekend in the South-West (Lagos) to drum support for his run, which is believed to have been weakened by the national chairmanship zoning of the ruling APC to his zone, the North-Central.
At least 2,000 youths from across the six states in the South-West region converged in Lagos to drum support for the 2023 presidential bid of Governor Bello.
The youths, who insisted that it was Bello or no other person for President in 2023, vowed to rewrite what they described as “Nigeria’s political history” of “recycling politicians”, saying that they were ready to also disgrace money bags in 2023.
The youths, who disclosed this under the umbrella of Rescue Nigeria Mission, said, like their counterparts in the Northern states, they were ready to mobilise heavily for the Kogi governor, no matter what happened within his party, the All Progressives Congress.
Also, the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has also stepped up his consultations across the country. Saraki, a former governor of Kwara State and staunch member of the PDP, recently got the nodding approval of a former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, to run for the number one position.
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) recently described the zoning of the presidency as advocated by some political parties as ‘anti-democracy’. The Elders, therefore, advised that the 2023 presidential contest should be left open to every region of the country for the best candidate to emerge.