As the issue of where the presidency berths in 2023 takes the centre stage, Southern leaders have warned of the dire consequences of power remaining in the North, calling on both the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to toe the path that will endanger peace in the country.
Leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said the core North wants to keep power forever. He said: “It is you people who refuse to see the truth. Have I not been telling you that all these games about amending the constitution are just to keep you talking; they want to keep power forever. The Fulani will not yield power easily and that’s why I say if you don’t restructure, forget Nigeria, but you people are still deceiving yourselves.
“And I often ask you, all these times we are saying if we don’t restructure, Nigeria will break, what has been Buhari’s reactions of assuring the people that the situation is not as bad as that, giving persuasive words?
“Have you heard of any leader from the North trying to persuade us to come and not to go away, other than telling us that we can’t browbeat them, we can’t stampede them to do restructuring as if they have the right to tell us what to do in Nigeria. We’re telling you what we should do in order to stay together and you’re telling us we shouldn’t stampede you. In other words, you do things with impunity.
“All these things you people are still talking about, they don’t believe they need you, they believe they have the authority to govern you. That is their attitude. I have not hidden it all along. I have never believed they want to yield power.
“This question of where the party will go is diversionary. What they should do now is to restructure the country first. It is just to keep you talking until 2023, they know the moment they restructure the country, the question of where power goes will solve itself.
“That is the crux of the matter and people should not pretend not to know. Since they have started deliberating on where the presidency will go now, the question of restructuring has been put back. It is no longer in the front burner . It is either it goes to the North or the South, that’s what people are talking about now. No one is taking about restructuring. Restructure the country back to true federalism.
“That is the core of the matter, any other thing is a diversion and that is my stand. I am not in doubt that they don’t want to leave power and I’ve even accused Buhari directly that he’s the first enemy of Nigeria’s unity, if not, do this, but he has not done it. I have confronted him. He’s the most powerful president in the whole world under this constitution.
“I have said this times without number. I don’t hate Buhari, I supported him in 2011 when he said he was going to do restructuring. He had interviews; Bakare was his running mate. He promised restructuring but he did nothing. Restructuring is in the manifesto of the APC, is that not enough to show that there is no seriousness? You can see the handwriting on the wall.
“Remember that when Bakare appeared on Sunrise and they asked him about it, he said if the government is sincere. He didn’t want to say he doesn’t believe the government will do it. They are not sincere about it.
“Don’t allow these Fulani people to be deceiving you because you can see the handwriting on the wall. I’ve been saying it and I thought Lai Mohammed would come and arrest me for hate speech when I said Buhari is the number one enemy of Nigeria. When they know election is coming, they say they’re doing restructuring; they make restructuring their manifesto but don’t do anything.
“ Some of you believe in their duplicity. I have asked them, go back to the constitution agreed to by Zik, Awolowo and Sardauna, but you insisted on the constitution that was foisted on us by the military, which is creating trouble.”
Speaking in the same vein, First Republic Aviation Minister, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, said he was not aware that the North has taken a decision on keeping the presidency beyond 2023, but “I am aware that there is a group who believes in the Uthman Danfodio mandate that the North will continue to rule Nigeria. I am also aware that there is a new thinking in the North that believes in other to maintain peace and security in Nigeria, the North should not just keep power to themselves.
“If that is the case, that the North wants to keep power in 2023, it might lead to a more serious case in the country and it will affect our continued existence as a nation. If the two parties provide northern candidates, then the two parties in their vision have created a situation that would explode and when it explodes, nobody should be blamed, except the people who have created the situation.”
According to the group’s National Chairman, Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (Retd), those behind such a plot are enemies of the nation who want to set Nigeria on fire.
He said: “Although zoning or rotation is not in the nation’s constitution but it is an understanding between the North, and the South. It is a gentleman’s agreement and this has been working very well for us since 1999, but why should some people who are obviously enemies of the nation now want to truncate this arrangement that has been working very well for us since 1999?
Any attempt to retain power in the North in 2023 should be resisted. It is an evil plot that should not be allowed to materialize.”
Describing people behind the moves to ensure that presidency remains in the North in 2023 as greedy elements, Nkanga implored Southern leaders to resist the plot.
“Although I know that there may be some saboteurs in the South who may want to betray their own people but I urge our leaders to resist the North. If at all they want us to discontinue with zoning, it should be after the South must have had its own turn after President Buhari must have completed his term in 2023.It is the South’s turn in 2023,and this is not negotiable,’’ he declared.
Warning PDP, and APC leaders not to succumb to any attempt by some powerful forces in the North to impose presidential candidates on the two parties, Nkanga said: “in the interest of equity and justice, after Buhari who is from the North, the next president should come from the South. Power has been rotating between the South and the North since 1999, and we must continue with that arrangement in 2023.
“Any attempt to do otherwise will threaten Nigeria’s unity. If we want peace in this country, the parties should allow that arrangement to continue working. They should resist moves by any powerful group or elements to force them to do something that may cause problems for this nation.’’