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2023: North, south discordant tunes over power shift

Razaq Bamidele

As debate rages on over which section of the country should produce the next president to succeed the sitting President Muhammadu Buhari, it seems there is no end in sight for a consensus from all the regions agitating for various arrangements for the principle of rotational presidency.

More interestingly is that even within the north protagonists of ‘Power Must Remain Here,’ there are discordant tunes for and against, just as there are also discordant tunes within the South, who are majorly in support of ‘Power Must Shift Here.’

Starting from the north, two renowned stakeholders in the Project Nigeria, this morning squared it up over the movement or retention of the most powerful political seat. The two dramatis personae are no other personalities than the vocal activist and National President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Mallam Shetimma Usman Yerima and the respected former Governor of Kaduna State, His Excellency Muktar Yero.

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In interview with the Saturday Sun today, the two personalities divided sharply on the vexatious issue, while Yerima, as usual insist that the North is not ready to relinquish power in 2023, Yero reasoned that, the preoccupation of the north should be on economic power since political power has not move the north out of poverty.

His words: “Well, in my personal view, the North has a lot of challenges; one of it is economic challenge. But a lot of people think that once you can have a political power you automatically have economic power. This was an old version of thought. To me, based on what I have seen, as a key player in government and based on my background as a professional financial expert, I realized that if the North really wants to continue to eradicate the poverty that is eating up the people of the region, then we must shift our attention and our thinking to how the North can became economically viable.

“If the political power will be a means to improve our economy, we can continue to pursue to retain power in 2023 and even beyond. But looking at the prevailing situation with north holding power, we can ask ourselves, is the North empowered economically? What is happening to other regions that have relatively less interest in political power, but has more interest in economic power? Are they getting what they want?”

Speaking further, Yero, who is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), hinged his reasoning on justice, equity and fairly devoid of selfishness.

Read him further as published in the Saturday Sun:

“You see, looking at a typical northerner, he is a fair person when it comes to dealing with other people outside his own area. Once he gets power, he tries to be fair to everybody. In trying to be fair, he would not be too selfish to concentrate on his region. At the moment, we need to go back to the drawing board and look at the economic challenges before talking of retaining power. We need to see whether our economy is viable and we can become competitive, if not in the near future, even the political power we may not be able to get it because we are not economically empowered.

“You see, in the North, we have the highest population; the largest land mass and the highest number of army of illiterates, including school dropouts, as well as highest number of street beggars. These are all socio-economic challenges which the North must overcome as precondition for sustainable governance in the country at the moment.

“If you look at the North, all the mineral and other mining activities are hampered by insecurity. So, even the entire insecurity, especially in the North, is as result of economic deprivation of some productive people who resorted to criminal activity as last option.”

Concluding, the financial expert, economic guru and concerned former Kaduna State Finance Commisioner asserted that, “To me, let the North concentrate on economic sector or activity so as to get out of massive poverty in our communities, because it is very key and important to any development strategy.”

But yerima would not have such stuff from anybody and from any quarter, pointing out that, Yero, being a former governor has never conferred on him the spokesman ship of the North on him.

According to him, the gentleman agreement on power shift and rotational system was long dead having being killed by the former President Goodluck Jonathan who, he accused of contesting and winning the 2011 presidential election.

“Nobody should think that the North will just sit dnd hadover power to the South on a kangaroo arrangement that is unconstitutional. Those days are over in 2011. Jonathan jettisoned the previous arrangement by refusing to step down and allowing a Northern candidate through consensus to come on board.

“The North has only ruled for nine years as against the years the South has ruled since 1999. Why is it that when northern people speak, because they don’t believe in propaganda, people blackmail them? We are not going to break the country because of this, but we are just asking others to see reasons with us.”

Coming down south, a vocal political analyst and protagonist of Power Shift, Comrade Razaq Bamidele, pitched his tent with former Governor Muktar Yero on fairness and justice that would further cement the unity of the country.

In an interview with the Nigerian Xpress in Lagos, Olokoba, who is the President of Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG), a right organization with over 70 other civil society groups, urged the north to use their numerical strength to cement further the unity of the country by relinquishing power in 2023.

“I have spoken on that on several occasions and in different fora that alliances have been made in Nigeria severally. And the most successful and most productive political alliance in Nigeria is the current alliance between the north and the south-west. So, that is one of the reasons I think power should come back to the south-west in 2023.

“If we look at it critically, we would realise that this kind of productive alliance should not be allowed to break. Rather, it should be sustained. If you are running a profitable alliance, what you do is nurture that alliance. And the best way to nurture the alliance is for our brothers in the north to use their numerical strength to nurture and cultivate mutual trust, cultivate a nation building and cooperation amongst ourselves.

“Numerical strength is no longer used in the world to bully or oppress people. It is used to build nation. If you look at bigger democracies before us, like in the United Kingdom (UK), the highest population among the Scottish and Irish are English people. But they create a situation where all other ethnic groups are comfortable with the way the political affairs of Britain are run. So, it is not only in Britain, it is also applicable to other nations across the globe. They use numerical strength to cement relationship and not to break relationship. That is the angle I want our brothers in the north to consider,” the youth leader postulated.

Earlier, a northern based political group, the APC Northern caucus had also called for power shift to the south from the north.

The call was made in a statement jointly signed by its Coordinator and Secretary, Alhaji Muktar Abubakar and Dayo Ogunjebe respectively, where they reasoned along with Yero that the arrangement would enhance equality, fairness and justice and thus guarantee unity and peaceful co-existence devoid of mutual mistrust and suspicion

While agreeing with the group, the High Chief of Epe Division in Lagos, added that, “Tinubu’s political acumen, social exposure and economic know how have put Tinubu, a onetime Senator and Governor of the most sophisticated state in Nigeria, on good pedestal to effectively succeed Buhari and continue the works he (Buhari) has started.

But even in the south west, some leaders of thought are of the conviction that, what the south west needs is not the presidency but restructuring of the of the polity that would allow all the regions develop at their own rate.

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Speaking with our correspondent, some Yoruba leaders are unanimous on the restructuring exercise that would not tie any region down by other regions asserting that what the Yoruba need is not the presidency but a system that would allow them to grow and develop using their God given natural and human resources.

Those under this categories include but not limited to the newly installed Yoruba Leader, Professor Banji Akintoye, an elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, National Secretary, National Democratic Coalition, Pa Ayo Opadokun, and National Secretary, Pan Yoruba Socio-cultural and Political Organization, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin.