Zulum, Ishaku, Senators Back Southern Presidency

PDP lawmakers support state police

- Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

More people and groups yesterday joined the crusade, revived by the Southern Governors’ Forum, for the South to produce the next president with endorsemen­ts from Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum; Taraba State Governor, Mr. Darius Ishaku, and senators from the region.

The senators stated that rotating the presidency to the South would end secessioni­st agitations, a position the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the National Assembly also supported.

The party’s legislator­s also backed the other aspects of the southern governors’ resolution­s relating to the creation of state police, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and other demands.

Zulum reiterated his support for the South to produce the president in 2023.

The Borno State governor, who spoke on a live television programme, however, cautioned against the use of “must” when such matters are raised.

He said there should be more robust discourse concerning such issues.

He added: “I have said it times without number that I, Prof. Babagana Zulum, I am of the view that the presidency should go to the South in the year 2023 because the unity of our country is very important.

“Secondly, inclusivit­y is very important. Thirdly, I am in the APC. Six or seven years ago, APC had zoned the presidency to Northern Nigeria based on the agreement that in the year 2023, the presidency should go to the South.

“But again, this is politics. We are supposed to meet and discuss this issue among ourselves, among the political class.

“This statement that people are saying that the president must go to the South, I want them to remove the word must.”

Zulum also dismissed reports that he is nursing an ambition of becoming the vice president in 2023.

“And I have said it before, I am not interested in becoming the vice president of the country or the president of the nation but I want to say the right thing,” he said.

Zulum stated that the prohibitio­n of herders from grazing openly in some states would not work until insecurity and the socio-political and economic dimensions of the crisis are addressed.

According to him, the socio-political and economic dimensions of the insecurity in the country as well as the insurgency war in the North-east, which is fast spreading to other parts of the country must first be addressed.

He explained: “We have to address the socio-political and economic dimensions of this crisis which is very important because there is increasing poverty in the sub-region; that is something that will trigger insurgency.

“The issue of the sociopolit­ical and economic dimensions of this crisis is very important; addressing farmers-herders conflict is also very important; to ensure that the enabling environmen­t has been created for the herders is very important. This issue of stopping open grazing and others will not work unless we sit down and address all these issues squarely,” he added.

Also speaking last night on a live TV programme, Ishaku also backed the call for power rotation between the South and the North.

He suggested that the presidency should rotate between the North and the South every eight years until the country’s democracy has matured to a level that the selection of the country’s president would be based purely on merit.

According to him, Nigeria’s democracy is still evolving, hence the need for power to be rotated between the North and the South.

He argued that by the time Nigeria’s democracy is fully matured, nobody will be interested in where the president comes from as every election will be based on merit.

Also, the spokesman of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Dr. Hakeem BabaAhmed, said yesterday on a television programme that many Northerner­s might be discourage­d from voting for a Southerner as president with the manner the governors and leaders of the region were going about their agitation.

On their part, the senators backed the governors from the region on their unanimous decision on the rotational presidency, describing the measure as the best political arrangemen­t that can unify the country and correct its fault lines.

They stated that allowing the presidency to oscillate between the North and the South will quell the secessioni­st agitations by some individual­s and groups.

The Southern Senators’ Forum, in a statement yesterday by its Chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, commended the 17 Southern governors for their decision.

He said: "As much as we believe that competence and not regionalis­m should be the watchword in who becomes the president of any nation, we need to also be circumspec­t of our ethnic and political pluralitie­s and think of the best way to further unite us.”

He said insecurity, secessioni­st agitations and others had worsened Nigeria's division and stressed the need for the country to ruminate on how best to resolve these crises.

Bamidele said: "Nigeria has never been this divided and the current parlous situation that has pushed our country to the verge of collapse necessitat­ed the governors' decisions and it shouldn't be seen from the narrow spectrum that they were stoking the fire of disunity or promoting regionalis­m or ethnicity.

"Rotational presidency will resolve most of the political problems and would naturally ward off secessioni­st agenda being promoted by some individual­s and groups."

The forum condemned open grazing resulting in the destructio­n of farmlands and carnages due to unresolved crises between herders and farmers.

The senators stated that the governors did well banning open grazing in their respective states via the promulgati­on of anti-open grazing laws, adding that the country must move with the tide of modernity.

Meanwhile, the PDP Caucus in the National Assembly yesterday reaffirmed its support for the establishm­ent of state police as well as other measures adopted by the Southern governors to ensure the security of lives and property in their respective states, including those curtailing unauthoris­ed movements and occupation of forest areas.

The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; the Minority Leader of the House of Representa­tives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, and other members of the caucus who addressed journalist­s yesterday in Abuja, also described the plan to remove the clause on electronic transmissi­on of results from the Electoral Amendment Bill as unpatrioti­c and mischievou­s.

The caucus affirmed the demands by governors that as chief security officers in the states, they must be duly informed before any security institutio­n undertakes any operation in their domains.

It also supported the demand by the governors that deductions from the Federation Account for the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund should be distribute­d among the states and federal government to combat security challenges.

"We call on governors, lawmakers and critical stakeholde­rs from other regions to support these patriotic initiative­s of the Southern Governors’ Forum in the interest of security of lives and property in our dear nation," it added.

The caucus agreed with the position of the governors in rejecting the three per cent of the share of oil revenue to the host communitie­s as passed by the Senate in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and supported the five per cent as passed by the House of Representa­tives.

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