Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai says it’s imperative that a gentleman’s agreement among the political class that ensures the rotation of the presidency between a predominantly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south is respected.
There have been feelers within the corridors of power that the north still feels shortchanged after Goodluck Jonathan contested and won the presidency following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010.
The north couldn’t conclude its eight years after Yar’Adua’s death as Jonathan governed until he was defeated by Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner, in 2015.
Some politicians of northern extraction have insisted that they will contest the 2023 presidency after Buhari completes his constitutionally permissible eight years on the saddle, just to ensure the completion of Yar’adua’s eight years .
However, el-Rufai who headed the APC’s restructuring committee, says that will be unfair.
“The general political consensus in Nigeria is that the presidency should rotate between the north and the south. It is not written but everyone understands it,” Vanguard quotes el-Rufai as saying.
“In some of the parties, like the PDP, it is even written down in their constitution but it was breached in 2015. I think that every politician of honour should understand and abide by that consensus except there is an extenuating circumstance compelling it to be set aside. What could this be?
“President Yar’Adua died in office and it was compulsory for Jonathan to continue but when 2011 election came, there were many people who insisted that Jonathan should step aside for a northerner to complete the tenure of Yar’Adua but I opposed it because I didn’t think it was proper for an incumbent that got there not by his own design to be stopped from contesting when the constitution has not barred him from running.
“In the APC, we deliberately omitted rotational presidency in our constitution and the emergence of a presidential candidate does not take into account zoning and that was why in 2015, Rochas Okorocha from the East contested, Sam Nda-Isaiah contested, Buhari, Kwankwaso and others contested.
“I can say that as distinct from the PDP, APC has no rotational presidency but candidates are selected strictly on the basis of political merit and the general acceptability of the candidate.”
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai with President Muhammadu Buhari at Rigasa train station in Kaduna in 2018 (Kaduna govt)
The governor adds that the north will honor agreements reached, whether those agreements are written or verbal.
“I want to say that those of us from Northern Nigeria honour agreements. We do not violate unwritten political agreements and I will be the last person to lead in violating that agreement. I may have a personal view but that should be the basis. I don’t care where you come from but I look for merit.
“But as a group, the northern APC will have to sit down and endorse someone, most likely someone from the south, because after eight years of Buhari, I don’t think the presidency should remain in the north unless there is some extenuating circumstances. But all things being equal, we will honour our agreement and we keep our words,” he adds.
Southern politicians like former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are believed to be nursing presidential ambitions ahead of the 2023 political permutations.
Incumbent President Buhari has insisted that he won’t be handpicking his successor.