By Ebenezer Ishola
Political analysts yesterday forecast that the duo of Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and his Kaduna State counterpart, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, may pair for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 election season.
According to them, the duo looked good for the ticket because among those being rumoured to be nursing presidential ambition, they paraded the most outstanding credentials and currently enjoy support from President Muhammadu Buhari and members of his kitchen cabinet.
Already, there are subterranean moves in the ruling party to see that the APC fields one of its governors to succeed Buhari whose tenure expires in 2023.
The analysts, who spoke to THISDAY against the backdrop of the recent advocacy by el-Rufai for power to shift to the South after Buhari’s tenure, confided in THISDAY that of all the governors in the South-west, which is the only zone in the southern part of the country where APC commands huge support, only Fayemi has the heft to give APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, who is said to be nursing a presidential dream, a run for the office.
They added that the ambition of the duo threatens Tinubu’s presidential ambition, and likely to upstage him from the race.
El-Rufai had recently said the presidency should return to the South after Buhari’s tenure in conformity with the zonal arrangement embraced by the major political parties.
He did not specify which of the three geopolitical zones in the South that should take the presidency in 2023 but added that it would be unjustified for the North to seek to retain the presidency after Buhari’s tenure.
Fayemi, whose second term tenure as Ekiti governor will end in October 2022, about six months ahead of Buhari’s, is currently the chairman of the influential Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), and commands respect among his colleagues across party lines.
Besides, being in the same party with el-Rufai, both of them are close and the Kaduna governor was one of those who rallied support for him during the NGF chairmanship election, which Fayemi won unopposed.
The analysts’ prediction came just as the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and an elder statesman and a founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, have lauded the call by el-Rufai that the South should produce Buhari’s successor in 2023.
However, the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, dismissed as diversionary, the governor’s statement, saying that the country should be restructured first before the issue of power rotation is discussed.
But the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) described the governor’s opinion as personal, adding that zoning and power rotation are not binding on any political party.
The Ohanaeze said the only way to unite the country would be for the South-east geopolitical zone to produce the next president by 2023.
President General of the organisation, Chief Nnia Nwodo, in an interview with THISDAY, said by the time the South-east produces the next president, the problem of imbalance would have been effectively resolved.
“I want to congratulate el-Rufai for coming to the realisation that power must return to the South. This is good, especially knowing full well that power should not be monopolised.
“However, let the Kaduna governor bear in mind that power moving to the South-east should be inevitable. I also expect him to come out openly to state that power should return to the South-east in order to address the problem of imbalance in the system,” he said.
Yakasai also expressed support for power shift to the South in 2023.
He told THISDAY yesterday that he had been an apostle of power shift and rotation among all sections of the country.
He said power rotation would give every section of the country a sense of belonging.
“I have said before that it will be wrong for the North to aspire to produce the president after Buhari because the country belongs to all of us.
“I happened to be a member of the National Executive Committee of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which introduced zoning and rotation and there was a reason for that. “The reason is that power should be rotating between the North and the South so that every section of the country is given a sense of belonging.
“Not only between the North and the South, but also between the northern minorities and southern minorities.
“So, the rotation includes minorities in the North and South so that both majorities and minorities would be given a sense of belonging.
“Because if you don’t adopt to rotation and zoning, one big group like Igbo, can cooperate with northern minorities to get the presidency to their side or Hausa-Fulani in the North can collaborate with the Ijaws in the South and dominate the power all the time.
“So, the rotation and zoning should go together so that every segment of the Nigerian society would be given the opportunity to produce the president as the time goes on.”
But Adebanjo faulted el-Rufai, describing his advocacy as a diversionary plot.
He said: “I will not be a victim of that diversionary tactic. Anybody talking about where the presidency should go now is not honest.”
Adebanjo added that the country must be restructured first before the issue of where the presidency will go can be discussed.
“With what is happening, I don’t trust any election that will happen under Buhari. Let’s restructure the country, then we can decide where the presidency should go.
“Why are they talking about the presidency now when they know where it will go? He holds all the powers and he is deceiving the people. Let’s go back to where we are at independence; what is the problem with that?”
He stated that both the president and his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), are not honest with Nigerians on the issue, adding that for peace to reign in the country, the nation must be restructured.
The ACF, however, said the governor was expressing a mere opinion.
The Secretary of ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani, told THISDAY in Kaduna that unless there is a consensus by Nigerians or a law is enacted to make it binding on political parties to adopt zoning and power rotation, it will be difficult for the parties to implement it.
“I have made it clear to the media that in the absence of national consensus or law on politics of identity symbolised by zoning and rotation of the position of the president that is binding on political parties, which are the organs to present candidates for elections in our nascent multiparty democracy, any position by anybody on which zone to produce the president comes 2023 is foolhardy because it has no traction.
“Governor el-Rufai’s suggestion on this issue is not more than his personal opinion, which is not binding on all our political parties.
“Whether his suggestion is fair or not is not important because it has no backing of force of law or of national consensus. This is because democracy is a practice whereby the majority holds sway. The position taken by the majority is deemed to be fair,” Sani explained.