The National Publicity Secretary of the influential Northern Elders Forum (NEF),Dr.Hakeem Baba-Ahmed has branded proponents of a southern president in 2023 as lazy politicians who are looking for a shortcut to power.
Baba-Ahmed says while there is nothing wrong in having a southerner as Nigeria’s leader in 2023, those seeking the office and their supporters should launch into ” the hard work of persuading Northerners ” and other Nigerians to vote for them.
Such aspirants, he says, should assure voters that when they eventually get into office they will not become ” southern or northern president, but a Nigerian president.”
“We don’t want another tribal or regional president,” he told The Nation in an interview in Kaduna.
In his view Nigeria’s real challenge is having a “political leadership that is completely undeserving to be leading this country,” and not rotational presidency.
According to the former Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), voters should be allowed to decide who rules them.
“Power does not return or go anywhere, power is determined by voters; this is why we have a democratic process, we are a democratic country,” he said in response to a question on the recent call by Southern governors that the presidency should return to the south after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023.
” Voters should decide who they want to vote for.
“Since 1999, Nigerians have been voting; we voted a southern president in 1999 to 2007, we then voted a northern president in 2007 who ruled for only two years and a southern president completed his tenure and was voted again in 2011.
“Then, we voted a northern president in 2015. In all these times, it was the power of the voters that determined who becomes the President.Votes don’t carry regional connotation.
“The democratic process says Nigerians should exercise right, that every Nigerian above the age of 18 is qualified to vote for who they want to be president, that is it. You cannot arm-twist that provision.”
He says even if the political class decides that presidential candidates in the next election must come from the south, it cannot “insist that voters from the northern part of the country must vote a southern candidate or that all political parties must field southern candidates.”