ELDER statesman and veteran journalist Aremo Olusegun Osoba on Tuesday spoke on what he described as the pre-existing All Progressives Congress (APC) pact on power rotation between the North and the South.
The party elder and former governor of Ogun State said the fundamental agreement endorsed by the APC founding fathers is sacrosanct, adding that it should not be ignored in 2023.
Osoba emphasized that the implication of the rotational pact is that a presidential candidate on the platform of the APC from the South, comprising Southeast, Southwest and Southsouth , should succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
The eminent politician, who spoke on a live television programme monitored in Lagos, highlighted some issues shaping national politics, including zoning, the jostling for the presidency, challenges confronting the ruling party, restructuring and security.
Osoba’s position on rotational presidency trailed the view of Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola, who had urged the APC to respect its zoning plan in 2023.
The former Lagos State governor recalled that zoning of the presidency was a cardinal decision reached by the APC founding fathers, prior to the 2015 polls.
Describing the agreement as a matter of honour, Fashola said it should not be breached.
He said: “The truth is that what makes an agreement spectacular is the honour in which it is made, not whether it is written. If it is written, there would be no court cases or breach of contract because it is a document that is written and signed that you take to court.
“The private agreement you make with your brother and sister should not be breached. It must be honoured.”
Osoba, who was the chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee of the APC, said as part of the agreement, the founding fathers decided that the South should produce the APC National Chairman because the presidency was zoned to the North.
He lamented that the party had abandoned the constitution drafted by the committee during the merger period.
Osoba said: “We of the ACN were the dominant group from the South and the Southwest is the home and the root of the progressives politicking. Part of the understanding in the case of rotation is the conventional understanding that the presidency will move between the North and the South.
“That was the reason we allowed the chairman to go to the South. I don’t want to use the word zoning because we definitely did not put zoning in our constitution because we know it may go into conflict with the Nigerian Constitution.
“But, there was a very clear gentleman’s understanding that the northern part of the country will produce the President when we do the merger in 2014 and the chairman of the party will then come from the South.
“We have had the president for six-and-a-half-year from the North from APC. The president will be there for eight years until 2023. The chairmanship has moved from Chief Bisi Akande in Southwest to John Odigie Oyegun from Southsouth to Adams Oshiomhole, also from Southsouth. Of course, at the end of tenure of President Buhari, the arrangement is that the presidency will come to the South.
“I talk of the South in terms of the three territories that forced to amalgamate in 1914, which means the Southsouth, the Southeast and the Southwest zones can bid and should be allowed to produce the next president for this country.”
Osoba said the Southeast, Southsouth, and Southwest can sponsor aspirants for the party’s primary, adding that the winner of the shadow poll will be the candidate of the APC.
He added: “That is the understanding that we reached when we were doing the merger arrangement.”
Osoba noted the national mood and expectation about the 2023 presidential contest, particularly the activities of individuals and groups setting agenda on the future elections.
He said the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has the right to contest for the presidency in 2023.
Osoba stressed: “Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as an individual has the right to put himself forward; we have not zeroed in on an individual. It is Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s right. We in the Southwest should first unite. There are too many groups in the Southwest. Let’s come together first to ensure the Southwest becomes a force to get the presidency. Zeroing in on any individual now will destroy our efforts now. But, Tinubu as a person has a right to pursue his own personal agenda.”
On restructuring, the former governor lamented that some people sat on the report of the Governor Nasir El-Rufai-led committee, which had been adjusted and adopted by all the organs of the party.
Osoba said: “I want to be very honest with you. I am one of those that were given the mandate by the ACN then. The ACN was a crucial part of the merger because we were the strongest in the South. We produced the highest number of governors at the point of merger among all the parties that were involved in the merger.
“The CPC and the ACN were the major players. The APGA did not participate, but Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo participated as an individual because the APGA as a party did not participate and he was the governor under the umbrella of APGA and he represented the East so to say. We from AC have always been fighting for the restructuring.
“It was Mr John Oyegun as party chairman that set up a powerful committee under the Chairmanship of Governor Nasir El-Rufai and the Minister of Internal Affairs, then Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, was a member of that committee. The committee did a very exhaustive and scientific analysis. They tested opinions in all the zones and an exhaustive report was written on restructuring. They accepted the state police, resource control, and control of local government under the federating states, and cancellation of 774 local governments that were put in the constitution. The report went before our National Working Committee (NWC), fully debated and agreed to. It was brought to us at the National Caucus with the president in attendance. We debated it and adjusted it. The following day, it was taken to the National Executive Council (NEC), which is the final body and it was adopted. I must say it went through all the organs of the party.
“What is now left is to send it to the National Assembly to debate and ensure that the provisions are agreed to. To my shock, I believe some people sat on that report. I am surprised that some people could then sit on the policy already agreed to by all organs of the party. That was the state in which we are; I don’t want to talk too much on the efforts those of us in the Southwest have made and are still making to ensure that we agree on the issue.”
On insecurity, Osoba said majority of Yoruba people are in support of the novel security outfit, Amotekun, which, in his view, was crucial to security system in the Southwest.
He said: “Amotekun is to operate an intelligent gathering wing of our security. Policing should be localised; we used to have both native authority and local government police in the colonial days. They are the ones who know the terrain well. For example, Evans was picking people and hiding them in FESTAC. Police never knew that because of its headquarters in Abuja. If we have had a localised police system, there is no way a man like Evans would have carried out terrible operations within Lagos.
“Those who are critical of Amotekun and saying that it has not been successful are stupid because it is a new outfit and it would take time before the system could work efficiently. I have no regret in supporting our governors that created Amotekun. We are not fighting anyone and I was shocked hearing some people saying how can Southwest have Amotekun? How does putting CCTV in my area for security purposes affects you in your zone or area?”.
Source: The Nation