The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday faulted the demand by southern governors that the next president should emerge from the South.
The forum said the North would not be threatened or blackmailed into yielding a democratically elected office. NEF through its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said: “As far as the North is concerned, the idea that it will be indirectly threatened or intimidated or blackmailed into yielding an office which ought to be settled democratically is not acceptable.”
Baba-Ahmed described the decision of the southern governors as an expression of sentiment which could be best discussed within a political process.
“We are running a democratic government and decisions over where the next president comes from are basically decisions that will be made by voters exercising their rights to choose which candidate best serves their interest,” he said.
According to him, “The southern governors come from the two dominant parties; APC and PDP and they must have some influence in those parties. The way it should be done is that the southern governors should influence their parties to zone the presidency to southern states and then work to convince Nigerian voters from all parts of the country to vote for that candidate.”
He said that the democratic rights of Nigerian citizens to vote for a candidate cannot be snatched by threats or intimidation adding that politicians were becoming very lazy to think they will be given leadership in a manner that suggests an ultimatum.
A senator from North East said the southern governors were trying to blackmail the North into submission.
He said, “We have the presidency at the moment but look at how they are behaving. They banned open grazing without any room towards addressing the farmer/herder crisis. They kicked against the PIB simply because they don’t want exploration in the North and they are even challenging the powers of the president on tackling insecurity.
“What do you think will happen if they get the presidency in 2023? I am totally against any rotation. We should allow the numbers to count because democracy is about numbers,” he said.