EMEKA NZE writes that as preparations for 2023 contests for power are atop gear, the debate between the north and south, the six geo-political zones, as well as the senatorial districts of the states, on the issue of whose turn it is, have reached a deafening pitch.
Between north and South
For the country, it is between the north and the south and the argument, gaining more prominence by the day, is now that the north, under President Muhammadu Buhari, is finishing his second term in office next year, the natural thing is for the power to swing to the south.
But the north has always insisted that it would be too early for the south to clamour for power. Their argument is anchored on the premise that ex Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, from the South, on the whole, spent 14 years while the north under late Umar Musa Yar’ Adua who merely before his death spent only two years in office and and added to President Buhari’s eight years becomes ten years.
However plausible the north’s position might be, many northerners, notably Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state, Bala Muhammed of Bauchi state, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, amongst others, are already angling to contest the forthcoming presidential election next year with a view to succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari.
Clamour by regions
While the debate for power shift from the north to the south is not abating, the struggle for power by some geopolitical zones within the north is also raising much dust. For instance, the North East and the north central are not leaving anything to chance to clinch the nation’s number one seat of power.
From arguments advanced, the north central, being more vocal views itself as unfairly treated, having not had a shot at the presidency since this democratic dispensation. The rallying point of this agitation, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, his campaigners becoming more visible lately, harping that “what is proper for the goose is also good for the gander.” Ditto the North East
However, if the north would finally cede power to the south as prominently being agitated, it is not clear whether power would shift to the South East, the South West or even the South South.
What is certain is that consultations by presidential aspirants from across the three geo political zones have gained momentum and the parties have kept mum on the issue of zoning.
Among the three geo-political zones of the South, the South West seems more vociferous, especially, the duo of the former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his ex subordinate and Vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
Also in the race are Ekiti state governor Kayode Fayemi all of the All Progressives Congress (APC). There is another emerging force from the South West, Prince Adebayo Adewole from Ondo state. He is of the Rescue Nigeria Project and feels that “aspirants under the APC and PDP are spent forces who mean no good for the country.”
But the argument against the South West is that “it would be unfair and insensitive on the part of those yearning to be president from the region given that former President Obasanjo from the South West did eight years in office. Also affected by this argument is the South South whose son Jonathan spent six years in office.
The promoters of this position believe that if power would return to the South, the South East would be the only geopolitical zone to beam searchlight.
Argument for South East
In the South East, voices have also gone hoarse about the level of marginalisation, discrimination and injustice meted out to the zone by denying them the opportunity to hold power at the centre since the end of the civil war.
Many of them from the zone hinge this to the conspiracy by the rest of the country to deprive them of the opportunity to be at the Nigeria’s helm of affairs. As much germane as this argument might seem, the rest of the country has also blamed the South East for not putting their acts together in terms of harmonising themselves to lead the country. The purveyors of this view have cited the incessant threat by the geo political zone to secede from Nigeria.
However, in readiness for the contest this time, the South East is parading an array of aspirants who want to occupy the office of the president after Buhari.
Under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim and former Anambra state governor, Mr Peter Obi are on the race.
The South East All Progressives Congress (APC) frontrunners are Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nawajuba, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state, the Majority Leader of the Senate, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Imo state, Senator Rochas Okorocha. All indicated interest to run for the exalted office,just to name a few.
The South South is not left out in the battle to occupy the number one seat in the country. The former governor of Rivers state and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, his Obiakpor kingsman Governor Nyesom Wike as well as Dr Orefo Nnamdi Onochie from Delta state, are at the forefront of the race within the zone.
The list is, however, not exhaustive as many more from the geo politic zone would join the race in due course.
Quest for rotation among state zones
Apart from the war at the six geo political zones to produce the country’s next president, in the states, it has been a battle to finish by the three senatorial zones which make up every state to clinch governorship of the states.
For instance, in Enugu state, the race as to who succeeds Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has reached a crescendo as former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, defied politicians from two other zones throwing his weight behind the agitation of the people of Nkanu East Local Government Area to produce the next governor of Enugu state in 2023.
Nnamani told a gathering of Nkanuland led by the former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji that “I am totally sold to the idea and if there is a way we can spread developments and other amenities in Nkanuland, I am all for it. I wholly support your move and urge you to remain resolute and steadfast in it….”
Similarly, in Cross River state, Governor Ben Ayade in keeping to the principle of zoning, vowed that power must return to Cross River South.
Ayade said, “During my campaign for second term, I went to the South. I said support my second term bid and when l win, I will support South to take over from me because by natural process, you are the next senatorial district to produce the governor.”
The battle for zoning in Imo state is still raging. While the Orlu zone had had three governors – Achike Udenwa, Rochas Okorocha, each of them serving for eight years and now Hope Uzodinma, the Okigwe zone had had one term of four years under former governor, Ikedi Ohakim, the Owerri zone would have taken solace in Hon Emeka Ihedioha’s governorship but it was truncated by the Supreme Court in favour of Uzodinma, also from Orlu.
In Benue state, the agitation for the governorship seat is no less fierce. Instead of the zoning formula between senatorial zones, power rotates amongst the Tiv speaking areas in another arrangement between zone A in the Benue north East and zone B in the Benue central.
The people of Benue South senatorial zone made of Idoma, Igede and the Apa/Agatu people have increased the tempo of agitation in the state.
Senior Special Adviser to a former governor, Mr Jacob Edi said, “The zoning in Kogi state has never been a serious issue until now. The dominant ethnic group, the Kogi East made up of Igalas had always held sway having produced all the governors until the emergence of Governor Yahaya Bello from Kogi Central.
“Consequently, serious agitation has begun amongst the Kogi West comprising mainly the Yoruba speaking area of now that Bello would be completing his two terms of office.”
Whether the outgoing governor would heed the cry of Kogi West or not remains a matter of conjecture.