Northern Governors Say Power Shift Unconstitutional as Ohanaeze Reacts

…Back FG on VAT

…Akeredolu says governors and emirs have the right to their opinion.

Governors in the North and traditional rulers have rejected the call by their Southern counterparts for power shift in 2023. The governors under the aegis of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, and the monarchs after a meeting in Kaduna, said the clamour for power rotation is unconstitutional.

Northern Governors’ Forum Chairman and Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, who read the resolutions, described the call for zoning as a contradiction.

He said: “The Forum observed that some Northern State governors had earlier expressed views for a power shift to three geo-political zones in the South, with a view to promoting unity and peace in the nation. Notwithstanding their comments, the Forum unanimously condemns the statement by the Southern Governors’ Forum that the Presidency must go to the South. The statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Republic of Nigeria (1999), as amended, that the elected President shall score majority votes; score at least, 25 per cent of the votes cast in two-third states of the federation. In the case of run-up, simple majority win the election.”

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, led monarchs to the meeting at the Council Chamber of the Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.

The meeting chided Southern governors for creating confusion over the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The call for rotation by the Southern governors and the objection by their Northern counterparts underscores the division over zoning of political offices ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Governors from the South at three meetings in Asaba, Lagos and Enugu called for the rotation of the Presidential seat to the South in 2023 after President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight-year tenure.

They also resolved that state and not the Federal government should collect VAT.

The Northern governors, who did not raise an eyebrow over the promulgation of anti-Open Grazing law by Southern states, urged the Federal Government to fast track action on the proposed livestock programme to replace cattle grazing.

In recent past, some governors in the North expressed public support for the rotation of power to the South in 2023, in the spirit of unity and peace.

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said the governors and the emirs have the right to their opinion.

“They have expressed and indeed exercised their rights under Freedom of Expression. No one can stop them from expressing themselves,” he said.

However, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has reacted with concern to the position adopted by the Northern Governors Forum in their meeting with traditional and religious leaders, on Monday, in Kaduna.

In a press statement issued and signed by the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, expressed consternation on a part of the resolution by the Northern States Governors’ Forum with Northern States Emirs and Chiefs held, on Monday, September 27, 2021, at the Council Chamber, Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna, which read that “the Forum unanimously condemn the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the Presidency must go to the South in 2023.

“The statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.”

Ohanaeze viewed the remarks by the leaders of the North as indicating a bleak future for Nigeria, adding that “it is most regrettable that the North are undisturbed that Nigeria is fast collapsing under its leadership.

“The Forum failed to recognize that at the moment, Nigeria is confronted with the most precarious omens full of uncertainty, doubts, insecurity and bloodshed.

“The Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, Governor Simon Lalong can attest that the people of Plateau State had never in history witnessed the number of deaths as has taken place under his watch as governor.”

Ohanaeze regretted that “The banditry in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Jigawa States is terrifying. Benue State has turned into a killing field.

“The States of Yobe and Borno are worst hit by the menace of Boko Haram; etc. Several schools in the North could not open because of kidnappers and millions of children are on the street as beggars.

“The Nigerian currency has lost its value. Unemployment has skyrocketed, and Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world…..and the Northern Governors, the Sultan and the Emirs instead of seeking solutions to Nigerian problems were busy strategising on how to retain power in 2023. This is most unconscionable, to say the least.

“Let it be made abundantly clear that if Presidency is a panacea to people’s problems, the North would have become the Netherlands of Africa.

“This is because the North had Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha,

Abdulsalam Abubakar, Musa Yaradua, Muhammadu Buhari, yet the problems of the North are on the increase,” Ohanaeze contended.

The spokesman expressed regrets and viewed that “It is most worrisome that the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, the spiritual leader of the Nigerian Muslims, one of the most respected Sultans in the recent history and the living conscience of the North, took part in such subversion.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is peace in the progressive societies because men of conscience are more in number.

“On the other hand, the crises in Nigeria is a product of greed, injustice, religion without sacrifice and impunity. The position of the Southern Governors is simply restating the obvious.”

Ogbonnia went down memory lane to the inception of power shift between the South and North, recalling that “a gentleman agreement was reached at the NUC Conference Centre, Abuja in 1998 between the North and the South.

“The Late Dr Chuba Okadigbo spoke for the entire South and Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, also of blessed memory, spoke for the North. It was agreed that after General Abdulsalam Abubakar as the Head of State, that the presidency should shift to the South. That accounted for the emergence of the presidential flag bearers of the mainstream political parties from the South West. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo respected the agreement and handed it over to the North in the person of Musa Yar’Adua.”

“Again, Goodluck Jonathan, a Southerner, respected the gentleman’s agreement and handed it over to the North in the person of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Therefore, the least that is expected from the North is a show of profound gratitude to the entire South for their large heart, equanimity and sportsmanship.

“Furthermore, it is in the interest of every Nigerian that there should be a paradigm shift to governance techniques. Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide unequivocally stands with the 17 Southern Governors and any black leg among them will incur the wrath of history,” pointing out that “Nigeria has two major groups of people.

“Those that cherish the corporate existence of Nigeria on one hand and those that do not value the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria on the other.

“The latter indulge in reckless nepotism, ethnocentrism, avarice, supremacist mentality, hollow expansionism and poor judgment of history. It is the law of nature that light illuminates and that in religion, both the Lord Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed stood for truth,” the Igbo apex group Publicity Secretary submitted.

He added that “Ohanaeze uses this singular opportunity to express disappointment over the unholy manoeuvres and alliances by the members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to zone the presidential seat for the 2023 general election to Northern Nigeria.

“The exponents of this agenda, in their jaundiced calculations, believe that it is a sure way of regaining power from the All Peoples Congress (APC). Experience would have taught them that to zone their presidential position to the North is an orchestrated requiem for the party; because more PDP Governors and grassroots will surely desert them,” he forewarned.

Ohanaeze reminded the PDP that the “South East has made unquantifiable sacrifices for PDP beginning from the time of Dr Alex. Ekwueme. If by way of politics without principles the Southerners in PDP place their personal narrow interests over the interest of their people, the verdict of history will surely be harsh on them.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Ambassador Professor George Obiozor reiterates that the bane of Nigeria is raw injustice especially targeted against the Igbo and until we begin to wean ourselves off the Igbophobia and rather harness individual and group resourcefulness, creativity, ingenuity and initiatives wherever they are found, Nigeria will remain on the downward spiral,” he submitted.

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