Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-cultural group, has reacted to the position of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), regarding power shifting to the south in 2023.
The Northern governors had on Monday, in their meeting in Kaduna, said calls for power to shift to south is unconstitutional, adding that the constitution only indicated that an elected president “shall score the majority votes and secure score at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in two-thirds of the federation”.
“The Forum observed that some Northern State Governors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to three geopolitical zones in the South with a view to promoting unity and peace in the nation. Notwithstanding their comments, the Forum unanimously condemns the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the Presidency must go to the South,” the NGF had said in a communique’ issued by its chairman and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong.
“The statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended, that the elected President shall: score the majority votes; score at least 25% of the votes cast in 2/3 States of the Federation. In the case of run-up, simple majority wins the election.”
But reacting, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, said the unity of the country is far from the hearts of the governors.
While condemning the decision of the NGF, Ajayi noted that some of the governors had said before that power should come to the region in 2023.
“This new position by the governors indicated that the issue of forging unity in the country is only on their lips and not in their hearts. It is true that zoning is not in the 1999 Constitution. So are many other things that are done politically in form of convention,’ he told The PUNCH.
“For example, it is not in the constitution that in a state with adherents of Muslims and Christians, the governor and his or her deputy should ideally be Christian and Muslim or vice versa. It is also a matter of convention that two occupants of the said offices should not come from the same local government or senatorial zone.
“These are conventions and not necessarily constitutional matter. Such a convention is entrenched to forge unity and a sense of belonging. Thus, while we, as Afenifere, concede that presidential material can come from any part of the country, equity, fairness and justice demand that the next occupant of the exalted office must come from the South since the North would have occupied that office for unbroken eight years by 2023. It is by so doing that unity and sense of belonging the country needs would be fostered.”
“Ajayi added that had whoever happens to be President, governing fairly and justly, it would not have mattered where he or she came from.
“The issue of where the President comes from is on the front burner today because of the nepotic tendencies by those who have been ruling us. This was taken to the highest level by the incumbent President Buhari.”