The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and other interest groups have slammed the 17 southern governors for demanding power shift to the South in 2023.
This follows the meeting of the southern governors in Lagos on Monday where they reinforced the resolutions reached at their meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital on May 11.
The governors insisted that power must shift to the South in 2023, and agreed to enact anti-open grazing laws by September 1.
The North Elders Forum, in a swift reaction, through its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said that the North will not be intimidated into yielding an office that ought to be settled democratically.
According to the NEF, it sees the decision of the Southern governors as an expression of a sentiment that could be best discussed within a political process.
The Forum said:
We are running a democratic government and decisions over where the next president comes from will be made by voters exercising their rights to choose which candidate best serves their interest.
Similarly, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), in a statement by Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, its spokesperson, accused the Southern governors of ganging up against the North.
Describing the proposed anti-open grazing law as retrogressive, the group said it threatens the legitimate presence of pastoral communities in the South.
Their (Southern governors) support for treasonable felony, by the subtle endorsement of the activities of such criminal separatist forces, led by the likes of Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu, by warning the nation’s security agencies against operating in the region without obtaining permission from the governor of the particular state is a matter that must be given the seriousness it deserves.
It is ironic for such leaders of a society that delights in unleashing mayhem against fellow citizens of other regions at the slightest of pretexts, to expect the other sections of the country to trust them or any of their proteges with presidential powers.
The Southern governors’ resolutions in that regard have further exposed a deliberate attempt to impose a contentious system of a rotational presidency that turns all democratic norms and accepted indices of our national demography on their heads; a rotation system that is clearly aimed at achieving dubious political goals; and one clearly designed to weaken the North.
The Southern governors’ threat to impose and enforce this undemocratic leadership selection process on the North, irrespective of its advantage of numerical superiority and inherent political sophistry, is part of a calculated design to continuously weaken our region politically and pauperise it economically.
This conspiracy is actively perpetrated with the connivance of some northerners and accommodated by the personal ambition of a few of those that present themselves as northern political leaders.
Inevitably, the immediate trigger to the Lagos pronouncements was the collaborative assurances by the former Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima and the Kaduna State Governor Nasir Elrufai given just two days earlier.
CNG insisted that the North would not be stampeded into making major decisions around power shift, adding that only a candidate who is competent and can unite and secure Nigeria should be President in 2023, irrespective of where he or she comes from.
We warn the Southern governors and their northern collaborators that any attempt to ride on the back of such gratuitous insults to democratic fair play and crass political opportunism, to hoist incompetent leadership on the nation in the name of rotation would not be accepted and shall be vehemently resisted.