The Arewa Consultative Forum, the apex socio-cultural group in the North, has dismissed the demand of leaders of the South-East geopolitical zone for the 2015 presidency based on zoning.
ACF stated that zoning has become history in the country, adding that the North is seeking the 2015 presidency on merit.
Reacting to the suggestion by some Igbo leaders that it’s their turn to produce the President in 2015, the National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Anthony Sani, said the South-East should not draw the country backwards to the era of zoning.
In an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, Sani said, “By voting a southerner in the 2011 presidential election, Nigerians overwhelmingly voted against zoning and rotational presidency. So, anybody bringing up the issue of zoning is trying to draw us backwards.”
He further said, “It was Alex Ekwueme and his delegates that recommended this principle of geopolitical zone during the 1994/1995 National Constitutional Conference. The suggestion was that the presidency should rotate from one zone to another. Then it was put to vote and it was agreed that it would rotate between the North and the South.
“The South started with Obasanjo. After Obasanjo, it was the turn of the North. They chose Yar’Adua, may be because they knew he was likely to die. When he died, they said Goodluck Jonathan must become the President, we agreed. Then in 2011, they said there was no more zoning; that it should now be on merit and that is how Jonathan got elected as President. So, why are southerners now bringing up the issue of zoning again? We in the North are ready to contest the presidency in 2015 based on merit.”
Sani was reacting to a statement by a Peoples Democratic Party leader in the South-East, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, advocating the inclusion of zoning of political offices in the constitution.
Iwuanyawu, who addressed a press conference in Owerri, Imo State, last Thursday, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the six zones should be given an equal opportunity to produce the president through a zoning arrangement.
He, however, dismissed the possibility of a president of Igbo extraction emerging in 2015.
Reacting to Iwuanyawu’s statement, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural group in the South-East, Mr. Ralph Ndigwe, said the inclusion of the zoning arrangement in the constitution was in line with the group’s position.
Ndigwe, however, said the Igbo had resolved that it was their turn in 2015 to produce the president and there was no going back on that.
He added that since Ohanaeze was not a political organisation, it would only support any credible candidate of Igbo extraction that emerged on the platform of any of the leading political parties.
Also, the Third Republic governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who is one of proponents of the Igbo agenda in 2015, said the South-East was certain of getting its chance.
“I don’t know what Iwuanyawu’s line of thought was when he said that, but I say Igbo presidency in 2015 is possible and we will get it,” Ezeife said.