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The Chairman of Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, has warned that they will only support candidates from the North in the race for 2023 presidency.
In an interview with the Sun, Abdullahi condemned Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, for holding Hausa/Fulani responsible for Nigeria’s problems.
When specifically asked if there is an unwritten agreement among northern leaders, to oppose the return of the presidency to the south in 2023, he replied: “Well, you see the question of where power goes, has multi-dimensional bases. If you go back to the period, from 1990, there has been politics that made it possible for power to go to where Nigerians have generally agreed to go.
“This is regardless of the relative definition of democracy, which says on the basis of one man one vote, power resides with the majority while the minority will always have their say.
“But victory remains with the majority. From my personal experience, I can count three occasions where the issue of power shift was determined by the plurality of the voters.
“I could start with my personal friend, General Obasanjo. He was elected mainly by the North. Obasanjo’s first term was entirely determined by the North. He did not get any vote from the southwest. Chief Olu Falae won the western part of the country while south-east and south-south voted against Obasanjo’s candidature.
“In the second term, few things began to emerge, which showed
whether the northern support was enough or worth it to determine his continuous support. Obasanjo’s success was determined by northern votes.
“My understanding of this issue has gone beyond party formation rather social; some of it historical. Obasanjo was former military officer, former head of state as a military officer, he made his own friends and enemies while he was serving in the military.
“But by and large, when this discussion settled down, the next civilian president after General Abubakar Abdusalami should come from the South. That was a general understanding within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which I was there, and I took part in designing the manifestoes and the party’s constitution at the time.
“The party agreed that power from time to time should rotate between the North and the South. Though not all agreed, my friend, late Abubakar Rimi, objected and insisted that he would contest the election and I think Senator Gemade also objected and quite a number of others. But it was their constitutional right to contest and of course, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria supersedes the party’s constitution.
“We left the South to determine whom to choose. Later, south-west, southeast and south-south produced General Obasanjo and Dr Alex Ekwueme, while Obasanjo ultimately emerged as candidate and president in 1999. So if you are looking at that, you can say yes. The rotation was a practice in Nigerian democracy.
“After the tenure of Obasanjo in 2007, based on the principle and understanding built on his own election, the party started shopping for who will take over from the North. Despite all rumours of third term, the power later shifted back to the north and late Umaru Yar’Adua became the president.
“So on that basis, one could see that if this had continued, perhaps the definition of democracy in Nigeria would have been slightly different from the universal definition. This rotation was modified democracy to suit the circumstances and challenges facing the Nigerian state particularly our diversity.