2023 Elections: The Presidency, Zoning and the Urgency to Heal Nigeria

By James Jibril

As the 2023 elections approach, Nigerians are anxiously waiting for the emergence of new leadership with the capacity to address the protracted crises and insecurity that the nation is presently confronted with.

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had during the inauguration of the Constitution Review Committee of the House of Representatives stated that the presidential elections will be held on February 18, 2023.

Nigerians who feel dissatisfied with the performance of the present administration of President Mohammadu Buhari are already plotting how to vote in the 2023 general election and effect a change in the polity as they believe the Buhari led administration has failed Nigerians.

One critical issue that is also generating interest among Nigerians is the party’s zoning arrangement, though not written or constitutional, has become generally popular among Nigerians. While some are saying it should come from the south, others are saying it must be from the northern region.

Earlier in the year, the Southern Governors had resolved that the Presidency should be rotated to the South based on the principle of federal character. This position was expressly rejected by the Northern Governors saying the rotational presidency is unconstitutional.

The Trumpet findings revealed that many political actors and citizens support the unwritten and unconstitutional zoning arrangement in the country, noting that the dichotomy between the North and South, Christians and Muslims needs to be respected. Accordingly, they believe that such an arrangement promotes peaceful coexistence, creating a sense of belonging and equity between North and South as well as Christians and Muslims.

This argument in favour of zoning has further made things messier in the Southern part of the country as there is no consensus on the region that should produce the president if the presidency is magnanimously zoned to the Southern part of the country.

A public affairs analyst, Asikason Jonathan in his opinion said, “2023 presents the opportunity to end the Biafran war and presents a battleground on which IPOB and other secessionist groups in Southeast will be permanently defeated”. Jonathan believes that it is morally wrong for the Southwest and South-south to compete with the Southeast as long as the 2023 presidential election is concerned.

However, the body language of the political players especially in the ruling APC does not seem favourable to the Southeast. In the Southern part of the country, APC seems more formidable in the Southwest, followed by the South-south and recently Southeast with the defection of the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi to the party. More so, there is a wide indication that the national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu; current Vice President,

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Governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi and the Minister of Transportation, and former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi are all interested in the top job. Will the APC jettison these leaders for anyone in the Southeast?

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan believes that zoning is inconsequential. He said, “our major problem is the suspicion between the different ethnic groups. Otherwise, why will someone bother where the president comes from? Let the president come from anywhere but what we need is leadership that will give sense to the people and provides everything within the constraint of resources that the people need. But when we suspect each other, that is when people crawl back to their ethnic enclave”.

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP Lawal Usman has advised the party to pick its presidential candidate from the north. “For the strategic interest of the party and the nation, the PDP must zone its presidential ticket to the North in 2023,” Usman noted.

With the alarming insecurity across the nation, the rate of inflation, and the high cost of living, the oncoming 2023 elections are something every Nigerian looks forward to with much eagerness, believing that a new government will ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians will be born. Will the next president satisfy the yearnings of Nigerians? Time shall tell!

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