Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the clamour for power shift to the South has deepened. Lately, individuals, pro-democracy groups and socio-cultural organisations have intensified campaigns for power shift to the South.
The campaigners looked at the merit of doing so, based on the unwritten understanding that power rotates between the North and South.
They believe that the completion of eight years by a Northerner, President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, will provide another opportunity for the mutual understanding that power rotates between the North and the South.
Unlike the 2015 and 2019 general elections where issue of power rotation was not in the front burner, the debate this time appears to focus more on power shift than quality of aspirants and manifestoes of political parties.
Though aspirants from both North and South have declared their intention to contest, critical stakeholders still insist that the next president should come from the South.
Already, some supporters drumming support for Northern presidency in 2023 have made volte face, to now support the position that the South should produce the next president of the country.
Some supporters of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, were among the group that made volte face, and joined campaigners of power shift to the South.
Though Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party is yet to formally declare for the presidency, but his supporters under various groups announced their position and argued that there should be equality in power sharing in the country.
They include the Middle Belt Network for Atiku, North 4 North Support Group for Atiku and Turaki Arewa Vanguard for Atiku, as well as South-West Development Frontiers.
Before now, some other groups like the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Pan Niger Delta and Tiv Nation have endorsed the quest by the South-East to produce the next president of Nigeria in 2023.
Also, some of the Civil Society Organisations called on major political parties to zone positions in order to ensure the country remains united.
“While we know power is not given on a platter of gold, we will deploy our structures across the country and within the various parties to further project the call for power rotation to save the country.
“Northern region has been in power since 2015 and after exhausting the constitutional eight years by 2023, it is expected that power will rotate to the South.
“This is lawful and can guarantee peace and unity of the country,’’ said Mr Bassey Williams, President, Coalition of Civil Society Groups on Power Rotation to the South.
On their part, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, an Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, is insisting that zoning the presidency to the South-East remains a fundamental ingredient for national unity.
Presidential-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, George Obiozor, said the current state of the nation underscores the need for a president of Igbo extraction.
“Nigeria will, above all, once again experience resurgence of nationalism with enthusiasm under a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction, with malice towards none, and charity to all,” Obiozor said.
He urged the nation’s political class to drop all fears and prejudices against Igbo people and to forge a common front to move the nation forward.
Obiozor added that there was no better time than now, for Nigerian politicians to embrace patriotism and political wisdom and jettison personal ambition.
He said the Igbos were blessed with a good number of capable, patriotic and credible personalities, who were eminently qualified to govern the country and meet the expectations of the citizenry through equity, justice and fairness.
Obiozor further assured Nigerians that a president of Igbo extraction would bring into office, an amazing sense of peace and harmony to the country, ensure the imperative of national unity and commitment to good governance with dedication, decency and decorum.
“Definitely, the idea of President of Nigeria from Igboland is an idea whose time has come. It is politically and morally justifiable.
“As a matter of fact, it is important that at this time in the history of Nigeria, we will take reasonable decisions in order to heal the nation,’’ he stressed.
A public affairs analyst, Gboyega Onadiran, agreed that giving every part of the country a sense of belonging would foster unity and reinvigorate the spirit of nationalism.
Against this backdrop, stakeholders have said, to achieve the president of Igbo extraction in 2023, South-East politicians and governors must form a consensus, despite their party differences and affiliations.
No doubt, many people of the South-East geopolitical zone have their sympathisers from other parts of the country.
The sympathisers have demonstrated this by insisting that it is desirable to allow the Igbo nation to produce the next president.
Perhaps the decision of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to opt for consensus and zone the 2023 presidency to the South, may ultimately lead to emergence of president of Igbo extraction.
If that happens, it will reinforce the prediction by the former governor of Anambra, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, that zoning 2023 presidency to Igbo will lift Nigeria.
Already, about five aspirants from the region, including Orji Uzor Kalu, Anyim Pius Anyim, Sam Ohuabunwa, David Umahi and Kingsley Moghalu have indicated interest and expressed readiness to run.
Recently, youths from 19 Northern states under the aegis of Arewa youths for Orji Uzor Kalu said that Kalu’s managerial skill, experience and national appeal put him in the best position to rule Nigeria.
The group through its National Coordinator, Yakubu Muhammad; Acting Secretary General, Abdulkadir Muhammad; National Organising Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, and the Director of Media and Publicity, Musa Waziri, urged the APC to commence a process of adopting him as the sole candidate of the party.
“This may sound odd in the eyes of Nigerians especially those nursing the intention to run for the number one seat in the land.
“Be that as it may, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu’s acceptability demonstrates the resolve of the youths in the 19 Northern states to support him to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Kalu is a presidential material with experience in the private sector; executive and legislative arms of government.
“It is imperative to state that, with Nigerians pushing for a president of South-East extraction, the stakeholders in APC need not look any further because the dutiful and detribalised Orji Uzor Kalu is the right candidate for the party.
“His influence cuts across all the six geo-political zones in the country.
“He was the Chairman of the Borno Water Board at the age of 25; chairman of multinational companies and a former governor of Abia.
“We are totally convinced that what Nigeria needs right now is a courageous and vibrant leader who is capable of managing a complex nation like Nigeria. That resourceful manager is Kalu,” the group said.
Similarly, the Ebonyi chapter of the PDP and a coalition of Northern groups threw their weight behind Anyim Pius Anyim, a former Senate President.
“Anyim is one Nigerian, who is eminently qualified on his own, irrespective of his state of origin to steer the current rudderless ship of Nigeria into a successful anchor,’’ said Ebonyi state chairman of PDP, Mr Tochukwu Okorie.
Unarguably, with its inherent advantages, equity, fairness and justice will not only lift Nigeria, but will strengthen the nation.