The controversy over the alleged witch-hunt of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ahead of the 2023 Presidency by a pro-North group in the Presidency is far from over as prominent leaders of the South-West, South-South and South-East have lent their voices to the matter.
They are a leader of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark; and a former governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife.
They spoke just as other groups from the South also queried the motive behind the cabal’s action. They are the Yoruba Council of Elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Ijaw Youth Congress
President Muhammadu Buhari during week replaced the Economic Management Team headed by Osinbajo with the Economic Advisory Council.
The seven-member EAC headed by Prof Doyin Salami is to report directly to the President. There are also reports Osinbajo has been directed to henceforth seek clarifications before taking major decision on the agencies he supervises.
The moves have been seen by many as actions deliberately taken by the cabal to reduce the influence of the VP ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
This is coming barely two months after Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State said there was a need for the country to drop zoning in future elections, including the 2023 presidency to enable the country to have a competent leader..
While Adebanjo warned that the North should not be trusted, Clark and the IYC said it would only be right for power to return to the South at the expiration of Buhari’s tenure.
Clark, who said he was not going to comment on any issue about Osinbajo, said, “I do not want to talk about the Vice President because he has been dancing to their tune. All I want to say is that in 2023, the South-East will have it. However, when I am ready to speak on it, I will let you know.”
Speaking along the same line, the President of the IYC, Mr Eric Omare, said going by an unwritten power rotational agreement between the North and the South, it would be dishonourable for northern leaders to attempt to project one of theirs own for the 2023 presidential election.
Ezeife said the South-East would lobby other regions to support its bid to land power in 2023. He, however, said if all its efforts failed, the region would know that Igbo were no longer wanted in Nigeria.
He said, “A newspaper quoted me wrongly that I threatened that Nigeria must be given Igbo President in 2023, but there was nothing like that. We shouldn’t use threat; we should employ lobbying as our approach. It is not just a matter of what we like, we would do what it takes to get power.
“We would organise ourselves in Igboland, make sure that it is only one person that we would bring out. Then, we would lobby, and not threaten, all the other ethnic groups to look at our case. We know that when they see our case, it is a must that an Igbo person would become President.
“If we do all that and we fail, then we would know we are not wanted in Nigeria anymore. If in 2023 they don’t encourage Igbo to become the President of Nigeria, then you don’t want Igbo as citizens of Nigeria and it should not surprise you if they feel pushed away to join IPOB.”
On the alleged sidelining of Osinbajo, Ezeife said in the kind of presidential system run by Nigeria, all executive powers derived their root from the Presidency.
He said, “Therefore, the President may need to give his consent to certain actions and if he does, that doesn’t mean he’s running down that office. I think concluding that way is not fair.”
Like Clark, Omare stated that it would be the turn of the South-East to produce the next President, adding that it was time for the South to allow the East to produce their candidate.
He said, “I think it would be too early to make a categorical statement as to whether the North wants to deny the South power in 2023 or not at this point.
“However, it suffices to say that by 2023, based on the unwritten power rotational arrangement, it would be the turn of the South to produce the President of Nigeria.
“It is on record that northern leaders have been strong advocates of power rotation; hence it would be most dishonourable and unpatriotic for northern leaders to attempt to deny the South power in 2023. In any case, no particular section of the country has the power to determine who becomes President without the support of the other section.
“Only the North cannot produce the President without the support of the South. Furthermore, even in the South, the point must be made that it is the turn of the South-East to produce the President in 2023.
“If the South wants justice from the North, those of us from the South must also be fair to each other by conceding power to the South-East in 2023 to give them a sense of belonging.”
Adebanjo, who said he would speak on the matter in due time, simply noted, “I have said it before, but they would not listen. Do you just know that it is their (northerners) plot? Did not trust all these people.”
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