2023: Osoba speaks on zoning, Tinubu, Igbo presidency

A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Olusegun Osoba, has declared his support for the zoning of the presidential seat to Southern Nigeria after President Muhammadu Buhari’s second tenure.

Mr Osoba also defended the right of his ally and former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, to contest the 2023 presidential election while claiming that nobody from the South-eastern part of Nigeria within the APC has approached him to seek his support.

Mr Osoba, a former governor of Ogun State, said he was at the APC merger talks that yielded the presidential ticket to Northern Nigeria in 2013 and eventually produced Mr Buhari.

“Part of the understanding in the case of rotation is a conventional understanding that the presidency will move between the North and the South. That was the reason why we now allowed the chairman (of the party to come from the South). I don’t want to use the word zoning because we definitely did not put zoning. We know it may go in conflict with the Nigerian constitution, which says anyone who is a Nigerian, who has read up to school certificate, can contest and at the age of 35, I think can contest for the presidency of the country.

“But there was a clear gentlemanly understanding that the northern part of the country will produce the president when we did the merger in 2013 and the chairman of the party will then come from the South,” he said on Arise Television breakfast show on Tuesday.

While his stance on the subject re-echoed that of Nigeria’s transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi, and Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, many other leaders within the party think otherwise.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, in the last two years has taken seemingly contradictory positions on the zoning of the presidency between the two regions.

In November 2020, Mr El-Rufai expressed a seemingly different view to his earlier call for a Southern presidential candidate in 2023, hinging his argument on the need to solve Nigeria’s economic woes and electing competent leaders.

“Zoning in political parties cannot solve the economic problems we are facing. Selecting the best person to get the job done will benefit everyone,” PREMIUM TIMES reported him as saying.

A two-term governor of Zamfara State, Sani Yerima, also, while declaring his ambition to run for the country’s top seat, denied the existence of an agreement to zone the ticket to the South in 2023.

Mr Yerima’s position is similar to that of a Kano State senator, Ibrahim Shekarau, who maintained that APC had no agreement to rotate the seat. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/434695-there-is-no-zoning-in-apc-shekarau.html

Zoning Considered in APC

Mr Osoba said as a member of the APC constitution drafting committee, he believes zoning “was factored into their discussions even though not clearly spelt in the constitution.”

He also expressed support for Mr Tinubu, who though has not formally declared his ambition, already has several groups campaigning on his behalf.

“Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as an individual has the right to put himself forward. We have not zeroed in on an individual. Zeroing in on any individual will destroy our efforts now but Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has a right to pursue his own agenda,” he said.

Speaking on the clamour that the presidency be zoned to the South-east, a region that has not produced an elected president since Nigeria’s recent democratic history in 1999, Mr Osoba said: “There is so much noise from the East.”

He said no politician from the South-east has contacted him or other chieftains of the party to show interest in running for president in 2023.

“As an elder in the party, nobody from the South-east has contacted or consulted me to lobby, to even say they are interested,” the former governor said.

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