Nigeria: 2023 Presidency – Sanusi Makes Case for Competence, Merit As Politicians Revive Zoning Argument

President-general of Jam’iyyatu Ansariddeen, Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi ll, has advised Nigerians to vote for the best and most competent candidates in all positions in the 2023 general election.

This is as politicians across party lines have revived the zoning argument of whether or not the next president should come from a particular geopolitical zone in 2023.

Sanusi, a former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, made the call on Saturday in Lokoja, Kogi State, on the last day of the three-day annual conference of the 4th Nigeria World Maulid Anniversary in honour of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, with the theme: “The Prophetic Solutions To The Questions of Humanity.”

The conference was organised under the leadership of his spiritual eminence, Sheikh Muhammad Mahi Ibrahim Niass, the Grand Khalifa Worldwide.

Sanusi urged the group to vote for the best person that is most competent in every position of responsibility irrespective of political party or religious affiliations, noting that if the youths are employed, the economy of the entire country will be improved.

He stressed that the group cannot fold its arms and ignore politics even though it was not a political party. ‘

‘Every member of Attijaniyya from 18 years old and above, male or female, go and get your voter’s card. Allah commands you that you should place trust in the hands of those people who are trustworthy.

“I am not saying you must vote only for members of Attijaniyya, Muslims, or for any political party; you are to vote for every position the best person that is most competent,” he said.

He commended Governor Yahaya Bello for hosting the conference, and accepting their request for the provision of land in the state to build an International Islamic Centre to honour Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim Niass.

In his remarks, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello described the conference as a historic day for him and the people of Kogi State and Lokoja.

Dignitaries at the occasion were the ambassadors of Morocco, Palestine, Mauritiana, Cameroon and representatives from Senegal, other diplomats, traditional rulers, and other dignitaries across the 36 states of the federation.

Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, declared yesterday that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will bury itself if it zoned the presidency to the North in the 2023 general election.

National publicity secretary of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnia, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP in Enugu.

Ogbonnia said though he had not confirmed if the party had concluded its zoning arrangements, there was the need for the party to keep to its zoning principle.

The apex Igbo body has repeatedly called for President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor to emerge from the South East in the spirit of equity, justice and fairness, arguing that it was the only former part of the tripod of the nation’s polity – North, South West, South East – never to produce a president.

Ohanaeze’s caution to the PDP, yesterday, followed a recent declaration by former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, that the PDP had agreed to rezone its presidential ticket to the North.

Although the party’s national leadership refuted Babangida Aliyu’s claim, his declaration ran contrary to a suggestion for the party to throw its presidential ticket open ahead of the election.

Still unsettled by how PDP plans to zone its presidential ticket, Ohanaeze yesterday said what caused huge problems for the party in the past was its inability to stand by its zoning arrangements, adding that any attempt by the PDP to jettison its zoning arrangements in 2023 will spell doom for the party.

The spokesman of the body further stated that the PDP had earlier agreed that the presidency should be rotational, adding that the North had completed its tenure, hence the need to zone it to the South and South East in particular.

Ogbonnia said what cost former President Goodluck Jonathan his lose re-election bid was his inability to keep to the zoning principle of the party.

He further warned that just like Jonathan flouted the zoning principle and paid heavily for it, the PDP will bury itself alive if it faults the PDP zoning principle in 2023.

“PDP will bury itself if it decides to zone the presidency to the North in 2023. PDP has a zoning principle and, historically, what has been causing problems for it is its inability to keep to its zoning principle.

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan faulted the zoning principle of the PDP and he paid heavily for it. Zoning the Presidency to the North in 2023 will be the end of the PDP,” he stated.

Adopt 4th Republic Zoning Convention, Okechukwu tells APC, PDP

In a related development, a founding member of governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has commended the PDP for timely clarifying its stand on zoning the 2023 Presidency.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja on the clarification made by PDP, yesterday, Okechukwu said his party, APC, and the PDP hold the key to the preservation of Nigeria’s unity by observing the zoning convention, which midwifed the Fourth Republic in 1999.

He noted also that supporting a president from South East would be APC’s and, by extension, President Muhammadu Buhari’s greatest legacy to the socio-political stability and development of Nigeria.

Acknowledging PDP’s position on the matter, Okechukwu, who is also the director-general of Voice of Nigeria (DG VON), said: “The two dominant political parties in our multiparty system, APC and PDP, hold the key to restoration of Nigeria’s unity by observing the zoning convention. It was that same zoning convention that midwifed our Fourth Republic and we are waiting for the two to save our fledgling democracy.”

He explained that his adamant campaign for zoning is that political power has always rotated between the north and south.

“My major concern is the peace, unity and prosperity of our dear fatherland.

“It was based on this premise, for instance, that patriots like former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Solomon Daushep Lar, Abubakar Rimi, Umaru Shinkafi, Adamu Ciroma, Dr Olusola Saraki, all of blessed memory, and a host of others shelved their self-interest and adopted the zoning convention, thereby saving our country. We need the same zoning convention to further stabilise Nigeria,” he stated.

When asked if APC would hearken to his counsel, the party chieftain said, “Mine is to walk the path of persuasion. I know our great party, APC, is not averse to zoning. In fact, zoning was one of the factors that built national resolve and enhanced our victory in 2015.