Presidency 2023: It’s turn of the south – El-Rufai

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The governor of Kaduna State, Dr. Nasiru El-Rufai, yesterday pushed for a southerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

El-Rufai’s endorsement of a president of southern extraction came in the wake of a contrary opinion expressed by Mr. Mamman Daura, nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari that there was no need for zoning the presidential ticket to any part of the country.

Daura who spoke in an interview on the Hausa Service of the BBC had contended that the country’s political space should be left open for the best candidate to emerge as president, irrespective of the part of Nigeria they come from.

His perspective of the matter elicited angry reactions from politicians, especially from the south.

But El-Rufai, who also spoke on the Hausa Service of the BBC, said there was a standing agreement that if the north rules for eight years, the presidency should, thereafter, go to the south.

“The southern part of the country is supposed to produce the president come 2023.

“I don’t support a northerner to vie for the seat after President Muhammadu Buhari, based on Nigeria’s political arrangement.

“That is why I came out and said that after President Buhari’s eight years, no northerner should contest for the office, let the southerners also have eight years,” he said.

He said the arrangement is alien to the constitution but that the politicians are aware of it.

“It is a political exigency that deserves to be respected by all parties.

“I believe that (there is) no developed country across the world that considers leadership based on where someone comes from.

“However, in Nigerian politics, there is an arrangement that we all believe on rotational leadership. We are aware of that. Anyone who denies that is wrong,” he said.

El-Rufai also denied that he was interested in the 2023 presidential contest as speculated.

“Many have been saying that I want to contest for president since I was a minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“This does not make sense. I do not want to contest the Nigerian presidency. It’s God that gives power, whether you like it or not.

“If He wants, He will give it to you, but I have never intended to contest for the presidency of Nigeria and nobody can say I did.

“Only God decides someone’s future. Whether you like it or not, I have never shown interest for the presidency,” he said.

Despite the denial, an associate professor of political sociology at the University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Kari said El-Rufai has a hidden agenda.

He said the governor was pushing for southern presidency to actualise the agenda of his camp in the APC.

“It is an open secret that Governor El-Rufai belongs to a powerful tendency in APC that comprises governors like him, ministers and other notable chieftains who appear poised to wrestle the party and rebuild it in their own image.

“It is possible that El-Rufai fancies himself as, or is being prepared to run for vice president. If that is so, then he is eminently qualified, but then he will have a mountain to climb,” he said in an interview with Daily Trust.

The academic knocked the south for always clamouring for political power while ignoring the other components.

“For obvious reasons, the southern elite discuss power rotation exclusively in terms of holding the levers of power in government only; they often conveniently restrict their rhetoric on power (which should shift) to control of the presidency, while deliberately neglecting other equally formidable components of power like the economy and even the media.

“For me, if power must shift or be rotated, then all components of power (political, economic, media, etc) must be part of the conversation, and not only political power,” he said.

Meanwhile, the APC said El-Rufai was expressing a personal view adding that the party would take a position on the matter in due course.

“It is his own personal opinion just like what Daura said. Party leaders and members are free to express their opinions. But when we get to the bridge, the party will communicate its official position on zoning,” said the party’s deputy spokesman, Mr. Yekini Nabena.

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