Abubakar Billy, first son of one of the founding fathers of Nigeria, Sir Tafawa Balewa, says the insistence by Southern Governors that power “must” shift to the South in 2023 is a “weakness” on the part of the politicians in the region.
According to him, the 2023 Presidency must be earned by the candidate with a national appeal, regardless of which part of the country he is from.
Billy made this known on Tuesday when he spoke on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme.
Billy’s father, Sir Tafawa Balewa, was Nigeria’s Prime Minister between August 1957 and January 1966 and one of the founders of First Republic’s party, the Northern People’s Congress.
As the 2023 general elections draw nearer, there have been intense political posturing, permutations and fireworks. The 17 Southern Governors had met twice in the year and demanded power shift to their region while the 19 Northern Governors also met on Monday opposing such move, saying it is unconstitutional and noting that the candidate with the highest votes will emerge as President in the next general elections.
Speaking on the television programme on Tuesday morning, Tafawa Balewa’s son said the Southern Governors “shouldn’t say must, it is not a must thing. This is a sign of weakness.”
According to him, the North had supported Southern Presidents like Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan in the past because the politicians were detribalised Nigerians who had what it takes to galvanise support across all states in the country.
He, however, said the next Nigerian President must be someone who understands the economy and is able to bring the nation out of his fiscal and monetary woes.
The activist said, “To me, this issue of rotation is pure politics. In Nigeria, we have lots of other issues that we should be concerned about than the Presidency.
“Like the Northern Governors have said, there is nowhere in the constitution that says there is a rotation. This rotation is a gentlemen’s agreement and I do agree with it; I totally agree with it but it is not given on a platter.
“We need to see people who are proactive, people who have the capacity, the capability to lead this country coming to my area to seek my votes (but) what is happening today is a sham – Northern Governors, Southern Governors would meet and say you must give Presidency to this zone and that.
“It is not done anywhere. That is laziness, these people should move out. The two Southern Presidents we have heard in this country were elected and served – Jonathan and Obasanjo – they were all massively voted from the North here. So, that goes to show you it does not matter which region you come from.
“The person is more paramount, show yourself, don’t just be a common clan or tribal leader, you have to show the Nigerianness in you that you are capable, you know what is happening in Maiduguri to Bayelsa, you know what is happening in Port Harcourt to Taraba.”
Continuing, Billy said every Nigerian is shortchanged and so therefore the nation needs a leader who can fix the many problems confronting the Nigerian state.
He stated, “In Nigeria, everyone is shortchanged, the South, the North, the East, the West, we are all shortchanged and the only way we can get out of the situation is not just picking a leader from a part of the country (but) choosing a leader who can fix our problem.
“I can’t imagine after 61 years of independence, we’ve had Unity Schools, we’ve had the NYSC, so many intervention schemes to bring our people together, yet we are still in our local and tribal courts which is wrong.
“I am a proponent of power rotation or power shift. In my state (Kaduna), since 1999, it has been one part of the state that has been ruling. We now say, ‘No’, it shouldn’t be so, it should go round but you don’t just dash; you have to have the people who have the capacity and capability to come out and showcase themselves, it is not done freely.
“In Southern Nigeria, there are competent people who are good and are ready to rule this country but they should come forward and sell themselves; you don’t just dash leadership just like that.
“We must make sure that in the next election, we put in a leader who is a modern man and also someone who can fix the economy. It doesn’t matter if he is a Yoruba man, Igbo man, Hausa man, Ibibio man, whoever rules this country, so long as he is competent.”