2023 Presidency should go to South, El-Rufai insists

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By Moses Adeniyi

Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has once again stood his ground on the 2023 Presidency, insisting that it is better for the stability of the Country that the seat  be shifted to the South, based on existing political arrangements.

El-Rufai however, faulted the insinuations credited to him that he will not give support to any candidate from the north who comes forward to vie for the Presidency seat in 2023.

El-Rufai who spoke, Sunday night, during a live broadcast on Channels Television’s Sunday-Politics programme, clarified that he never meant that he would not support a northerner for 2023 presidency, but rather he only expressed his opinion based on existing political arrangement.

According to him, based on the prevailing arrangement, the fact that President Buhari, a northerner, would have spent eight years in the Presidency by 2023, it is ‘honourable’ to leave the seat open for the south.

The Governor further stated that it would be rational for political parties as experienced in 1998 to reach a consensus for them to all present a southern candidate for the 2023 presidency.

“I did not say I will not support a northern candidate; I did not say I will not support a southern candidate. All I said is that in Nigerian political culture under this constitution (1999), there is an out-spoken arrangement. In the PDP, it is even in their constitution, (but) it’s not in the APC’s constitution.

“After Obasanjo, the Presidency moved to the north. There was no question about it. It did not stop people from the south from contesting. But the consensus of the party leadership is that the Presidency should go to the north and Umaru Yar’Adua emerged.

“What I’m saying is based on that our spoken arrangement; its not signed any where; after  Buhari does eight years, what is honourable is for northern politicians to put their support behind a southern candidate.

“I never said at any point that I will not support a northern candidate. That issue does not arise. I just expressed my preference as a matter of principle to respect what we have as a political arrangement. We will get to a point that this will not be necessary

“I don’t believe in zoning for instance. I don’t practice zoning when I appoint people. But that is not the point. That’s my opinion; that’s my feeling, just like Mamman Daura will say that we should drop zoning.

“But we have had this arrangement and until we overcome this preference for north handing over to south and back, I think we should maintain it. This is my point.

“I do not believe that any part of Nigeria has a monopoly of competent people and people with capacity. So, it really  doesn’t matter. If you say that you want President from the north, there are many people that are qualified from the north, and if you say you want a President from the south, there are many competent (and) qualified people from the south.

“So, it’s not a matter of competence or capacity. There is virtually no local government in this Country that you go looking for a P.HD in anything that you cannot find. Nigeria has gone beyond that.

“But I agree that when the aspirants all come out, we should look for competence, capacity, character, (and) integrity. All those will come out when the Aspirants begin to emerge. But for now my position is we have an understanding, let us stick to that understanding and let the circumstances completely change.

“I’m hoping that in 2023 all the major political parties will present candidates from the South, so that we’ll maintain this arrangement which will go along way in engendering stability in the Country. I express my opinion; It is my opinion and that’s it,” he said.

Recall that on Saturday, August 8, El-Rufai, was quoted in an interview  with the BBC Hausa Service as published by The Cable that he would not support a northern candidate for the presidency in 2023.

According to him, the idea of zoning the presidential seat is necessarily not constitutional, but is based on the country’s political arrangement which he believes should be respected.

El-Rufai was quoted: “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 has been in office for eight years, no northerner should run for office. Let the southerners also have eight years.

“If you look at how I am, I don’t take anyone to work with me for the zone he came from. The eligibility I look at is if who is entrusted to the public will hold it properly.”

El-Rufai who had during the interview declared that he had no interest in becoming the president in 2023 as against popular rumours had said: “It has been said that I have loved the presidency since I was a minister in the FCT. This is nonsense. I do not want the Nigerian presidency. God gives power, whether you like it or not, if He wants it, He will give it to you, but I have never sought the presidency of Nigeria, no one can say I have ever sought it.”