Former Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, has criticised the Southern and Middle Belt Forum for saying that all political parties should zone their presidential tickets to the South in the 2023 presidential election.
Sani argued that there was no political wisdom in the declaration made by the regional groups because the constitution is clear on the provisions for a candidate to emerge as president in election in the country.
Such provisions or requirements, the ACF chieftain inferred, are that a presidential candidate could emerge victorious only “if he meets the two requirements of majority votes and spread in at least 24 states.”
The Southern and Middle Belt Forum, which comprises Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere; the South-East socio-political group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and the Middle Belt Forum, had urged all parties to zone their presidential tickets to the South ahead of the 2023 presidential election, adding that the South and the Middle Belt would not vote for a northern presidential candidate in 2023.
The demand was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting of the leadership of the groups in Abuja.
The communiqué was signed by elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo (leader of Afenifere), Prof. George Obiozor (President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo) and Dr Pogu Bitrus (National President, Middle Belt Forum).
But the Northern political elites and groups were to fire the first salvo, declaring on Saturday that northerners also possessed equal rights like their southern counterparts to vie for the nation’s exalted seat in the 2023 presidential election.
Also, the former ACF’s scribe in a statement made available to newsmen in Kaduna on Monday, noted that the regional group goofed as they were expected to know that democracy is a contest of ideas and not a bullfight.
Sani called on the trio of Afenifere, Ohanaeze and Middle Belt Forum to join a political party which a game plan in the 2023 polls by fielding a presidential candidate from the South instead of threat and intimidation.
According to Sani, those who framed the constitution had in mind the need for the two regions to come together and produce the president, adding that no votes of any region or zone alone can produce the president.
He said, “When I read reports that Afenifere, Ohanaeze and Middle Forum reject presidential candidates from the North, I wondered about the political wisdom. I wonder because the constitution provides that a presidential candidate can emerge victorious only if he meets the two requirements of majority votes and spread in at least 24 states.
“The three platforms of Afenifere, Ohanaeze and Middle Belt Forum are too intelligent not to know that the whole South plus North-Central geopolitical zones where the Middle Belt Forum can boast of some presence do not meet the requirement of spread in 24 states. That is to say, the 17 southern states plus six states of the North-Central zone add up to 23 and not 24 states.
“Those who framed the constitution and provided that no president can emerge without securing majority votes and meet the requirement of spread in securing at least 25% votes in each of at least two thirds of the 36 states, which is 24 states, had in mind the need for the two regions to come together and produce the president. This is because no votes of any region or zone alone can produce the president.
“We therefore expect the Afenifere, Ohanaeze and the Middle Belt Forum -all of which profess to be jaunty face of democratic values- to develop democratic and political spirit which thrives on persuasions rather than heating up the polity through promotion of the cleavages of the nation along regional, ethnic and religious lines.
“Democracy is a contest of ideas and not a bullfight. To that end, one expects the trio of Afenifere, Ohanaeze and Middle Belt Forum to join a political party which winning game plan for 2023 elections include fielding of presidential candidate from the South instead of outright threat and intimidation.”