2023: Northern Elders, Middle Belt Forum Disagree Over Power Shift
iexclusive News Nigeria reports that the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) disagreed on Tuesday about where should Nigeria’s next president in 2023 come from.
While the NEF praised the Northern Governors Forum and monarchs for their opinion that rotational presidency is unconstitutional, the MBF stated that it would only accept a president from the South or the Middle Belt.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the NEF’s Director of Publicity and Advocacy, said Monday’s proclamation by governors of the North, who had previously been hesitant or shy to reply to their counterparts from the southern area, was a major vindication for NEF.
“There is a law that governs how presidents are elected, and we are relieved that the 19 northern governors have finally taken a position that is compatible with the viewpoint we have advocated for a long time,” he said.
In a democratic system, Baba-Ahmed remarked, attitudes that suggest that threats and intimidation would produce outcomes are not the way to go.
Anyone or any region, he claims, violates the law by demanding the implementation of something that is against the constitution.
“Now, southern governors say you must bring the presidency to the South, while northern governors say read the constitution again; there is a way to do this. These are politicians, and they must find a means to bridge the divide between them.
“We applaud their public statement, and we hope that their southern counterparts will take notice. We also hope that governors and other politicians will sit down and do the real work of politics, discussing what can and cannot be done, and how those things that can be done should be done.
“What the North is arguing is that there is a constitutional framework for how presidents are chosen, as well as a political process within which you may choose how they are chosen.
“There is a law that you cannot breach, but you can break it by insisting that something that is not in the constitution be done.”
The meeting invited northern governors to engage their southern counterparts in fruitful discussions about the way forward.
However, in response to the northern governors’ rejection of the call for power to be rotated to the south, the MBF stated that power should be rotated between the three zones of the North, South, and Middle Belt, as the idea of a monolithic north was long dead.
North’s demand on the presidency in 2023, according to MBF National President Dr Pogu Bitrus, “may capsize the ship of the Nigerian State.”
“By using on constitutional rules as a basis for opposing power transition, northern governors and traditional rulers are only half-witted, as they are only attempting to hide behind a finger,” the forum added.
“The zoning scheme, which emphasized the necessity for power rotation between the North and South, was designed to provide all zones a sense of belonging in terms of providing leadership in the country.
“We are surprised that, rather than focusing on the slaughter raging across the country, governors and traditional rulers are preoccupied with which of the zones will assume control in 2023.”
“We have asked and requested that the 2023 Presidency be designated to the Middle Belt,” Bitrus continued. In the event that such a demand is not met, all Middle Belt ethnic nations have vowed to support any presidential candidate from the South.”