By Paul Michael
South-South foremost leader and former National Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark has said the northern part of the country has held the presidency for over 45 years since Nigeria’s independence.
Clark said this in a statement on Tuesday even as he stressed the need to maintain and respect zoning for national cohesion and sustenance of Nigeria’s unity. He added that zoning of political offices, particularly the presidency of the country, is the best antidote to the breakup of Nigeria, and “the panacea for peace and unity of the country.”
The elder statesman also noted that the Southern part of the country has only held the office of the president for barely 17years since the country’s independence in 1960. He urged the north and the major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to respect the dichotomy between the north and south by zoning the 2023 presidency to the south after the 8years of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The statement reads in part, “To which sub-region the presidency should be further zoned to in the south, is a different matter entirely. At the appropriate time, we will decide as to which area, section or region of the three regions of South-East, South-South and South-West, should have it.
“It must be understood that the north has had the Presidency for about 45 years of our nation’s history as an independent country, including both civilian and military regimes as follows:
1. 5 years and 3 months of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
2. 9 years of Gen. Yakubu Gowon
3. 6 months of Gen. Murtala Mohammed
4. 1 year and 8 months as Military Head of State of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari
5. 4 years and 3 months of Alhaji Shehu Shagari
6. 8 years of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida
7. 4 and half years of Gen. Sanni Abacha
8. 1 year of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar
9. 8 years of President Muhammadu Buhari that will end in May, 2023.
“South-West had Chief Ernest Shonekan for a short period of 3 months as Interim President, and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for 8 years. If the 3 and half years of his (Chief Obasanjo’s) Military Head of State are added, then the South-West have held the nation’s number one office for about 12 years.
“South-South had Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as President for five years (May 2010 to May 2015). South-East had Gen. Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi for 6 months in a military regime (January 1966-July 1966).”
Chief Clark also prevailed on former Vice President of Nigeria and 2015 Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, 8th Assembly Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal as well as other northerners with presidential ambition to jettison their interests and support the south for the 2023 presidency, stressing that such selfless decision will save the nation from needless chaos and disintegration.
While noting that no one group or section of the country should dominate the government of Nigeria at the expense of other parts of the country, Chief Clark stated that zoning has been an age-long practise in the nation’s policy even before Independence.
“Firstly, I wish to use this medium to advise my most respected Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftains in the persons of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, and other PDP aspirants from the north, that in the interest of maintaining the unity of this country to which they have contributed so much, to re-consider their desire of wanting to contest the Presidential election in 2023, because both by the PDP Constitution and by convention, it is now the turn of Southern Nigeria to produce the President of Nigeria, in 2023, after President Muhammadu Buhari’s 8 years. To do otherwise is to invite chaos, which will lead to the disintegration of our dear country.
“Zoning has been practised in the nation’s policy even before Independence, when Tafawa Balewa, in 1954, was the Prime Minister, Nnamdi Azikiwe was the Governor-General. Zoning of political offices, particularly the Presidency of the country, is the best antidote to the breakup of Nigeria, and the panacea for peace and unity of the country.
“One of the reasons why the north opposed Chief Anthony Enahoro’s motion for independence in 1953, was that they felt they were not equal to the South in education; that they were not in a position to produce proportional candidates who will run an independent government with the south because, at that time, they had only about 4 graduates.
“They subsequently walked out of the Parliament, went back to the north, and swore never to return to Lagos again. That was what led to the Constitutional Conferences held both at the Lancaster House in London and at Ibadan, Nigeria, purposely to keep Nigeria one. The impression was that no one group or section of the country should dominate the government of Nigeria at the expense of other parts of the country,” Clark stated.