MEMBERS of the Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (NEPD) have asked Nigeria’s two leading political parties the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to both zone the 2023 presidential ticket to the southeast.
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 geo-political zone. Following a recent meeting, the NEPD had thrown its weight behind an Igbo presidency, highlighting the need for all regions of the country to be treated equally in the political affairs of the nation.
In a statement signed by Zana Goni and Hajia Mario Bichi, the NEPD national coordinator and national women’s leader respectively, the body affirmed that Igbos have been marginalised in the political scheme of things in the country. According to the NEPD, both the APC and PDP need to feature Igbo presidential candidates in 2023 to maintain the culture of rotational presidency.
Their statement read: “Buhari is from the north, so the right thing is that after his eight-year tenure, the next president should come from southern Nigeria. Since the southwest and south-south have occupied the office in the current dispensation, the southeast is next in line in the spirit of the rotation principle, fairness, equity and justice.
“If all the major geopolitical zones in the country and especially the major ethnic groups in the country have all been presidents then in all fairness, justice and equity, we should be looking at the southeast to produce the president. There is no denying the fact that the Igbos have contributed greatly to the development of this country. It is time for us all to reciprocate their good gestures through mass support for the next president to emerge from the southeast.”
Among other things, the NEPD said the move will foster national unity and bring an end to the bitterness of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, which has lingered for 50 years since the end of hostilities. Also, the NEPD lauded southeast leaders for not taking cessation as an option despite the activities of Nnamdi Kanu, the self-proclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
In addition, the NEPD tasked Ohanaeze Ndigbo to reach out to Igbo politicians and leaders of other geo-political zones and interest groups. It tasked the body with building support for a southeast president, noting that the creation of six geopolitical zones was to help streamline the way the country was structured.