The National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chekwas Okorie, has said those who feel the north should contest in the 2023 Presidency are indulging in wishful thinking.
Naija News recalls that Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State had called for an end to zoning so all regions can contest in the 2023 Presidential Election.
He said, “Even with our success in the 2015 elections, there is room for improvement.
“Barriers to political equality, such as our seemingly entrenched through informal rule for zoning candidacies according to regions of origin, need to be de-emphasised and ultimately abandoned in favour of an emphasis on qualification, competence and character.”
Reacting in a press statement on Monday, Chekwas Okorie stated that the idea of a northern president in 2023 will not fly.
He, however, noted that Governor El-Rufai is free to contest since the rotation of the presidency is not in the constitution.
Okorie said: “I have always had the position that Nigeria does not have a constitution that has provided for rotation of power. But, at the same time, the rotational arrangement has become conventional. It is that rotational convention that made it easier for President Buhari to defeat a sitting president in 2015 because 2015 was widely perceived as the turn of a northerner to become president. Since President Buhari towered above every other person from the North, he won.
“In the build-up to 2019, the UPP as a party – the party I lead – we knew that any person running for president from the South would be swimming against the tide. So, we decided to allow the North to complete its eight years, by not fielding a candidate for the presidential election, and that was what happened.
“It is that same convention that Nigeria would observe by 2023. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop any person from the North wishing to run, but the person will never be able to win the presidential election. Such persons will be like those southerners who ran in 2019 and never stood any chance of winning.
“Owing to the fact that it is not a law, anybody can run. The likes of El-Rufai can run, if they wish to do so. But, if El-Rufai is able to win Kaduna State, he should thank his stars. Buhari with all his qualities and following in the “North was not able to win on three previous occasions. But when Nigerians said it is the turn of the North, forces came together to mobilise support for him. In the South, the Southwest especially played a key role in making sure that he won.
“If for anything, the contest for leadership in 2023 will be between the Southwest and the Southeast. But, if equity has anything to do with politics, it should be the turn of the Southeast, considering the fact that the region has not produced any elected leader since independence.
“Anybody who believes that the next president would come from the North, based on what El-Rufai is insinuating, is indulging in wishful thinking. I can tell you categorically that the idea of a northern president in 2023 will not fly.”