By Chukwudi Nweje and Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Ohanaeze Ndigbo has said the declaration by the former Lagos State governor would create confusion and add to the problems of the country.
The apex Igbo organisation said the interest of the country should take priority and advised that the South East take their turn at the presidency.
But Afenifere and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) said the APC leader has the constitutional rights to contest.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alex Ogbonnia said as an elder statesman, Tinubu should allow equity and fairness to reign by ensuring that the South East take their turn.
He said though the former Lagos governor has a right to contest, as an statesman should sacrifice his ambition for equity and justice.
The acting national leader of Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, argued Tinubu, like any other aspirant, has the constitutional right to contest for the presidency but noted that it would depend on whether the powers that be would support his ambition.
On whether he was still supporting a president of South East extraction even with Tinubu’s declaration, he declined to comment.
Publicity Secretary of MBF, Dr Dogo Isuwa, said the confusion trailing Tinubu’s declaration was because the APC has not zoned the ticket to a particular region.
He faulted claims that the South East is the only region of the country that has not produced the president since inception of the current democratic dispensation, and pointed out that the North East, the South East and the North Central have also not had a shot at the presidency since 1999.
“Tinubu’s indication that he wants to contest the 2023 presidential election doesn’t stop anybody from the South East from contesting the 2023 presidential election. Whether it is in the All Progressives Congress (APC) or in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), people from different parts of the country have the right to present themselves for the presidency.
“The reality in Nigeria is that three regions of the country, the North East, the South East and the North Central have not produced the president since 1999. The president has only been in the North West, the South west and the South South.”
He noted that the APC should have zoned the presidential ticket to a particular region to avoid all the arguments generated by Tinubu’s declaration.
“The logical thing would have been fort he APC to zone the presidential ticket to a particular zone, say the South East, why not? This is not an issue of gentleman’s agreement, there is nothing like gentleman’s agreement in politics. If it is a political agreement, they should be honest and sincere to it and follow it the way they have agreed and allow the South East to produce the president.”
President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Yerima Shettima and former Secretary-General of Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony A. Z. Sani agreed that Tinubu is qualified to contest just like any other Nigerian but expressed concerns over his age and religion.
While Shettima argued that Tinubu’s generation should support the younger generation to lead Nigeria in 2023, Sani expressed worry over his ability to scale through on religious ground, especially from the southern part of the country.
“He’s entitled to contest like any other Nigerian and nobody can stop him for doing that. But, whether if he could force the horse to the river and force it to drink water is what would be decided by Nigerians when the time matures.
“It suffices to say that some of these people refused to yield to advice. Their generation still believes they can manipulate their way because they have money and believe that Nigerians can easily be sold out and that was why it is easy to get some people parading themselves as their supporters, lying to them. No problem. A date has been fixed and we will meet at the poll,” Shettima said.
In his view, Sani said though he was not close to Tinubu, he respected his politics considering how he appointed people from other states during his reign as governor of Lagos state.
“The strategy paid off when such people became governors in their states. To me, that was a good strategy which he now uses to negotiate with other power blocks from a position of strength. Aside from President Buhari, a few politicians enjoy such political advantage.
“I do not like politics of identity such as of region, ethnicity and religion because such tend to supplant politics of real issues of real concern to real people of Nigeria and promote cleavages of the nation. But because it seems we must live with it for some time to come, I wonder if a president of Nigeria who is a Muslim from the South can appease the religious sentiment of the South that is predominantly Christian. If we must factor in religious balancing into the politics, then a president from the South is expected to be a Christian. Besides that, I believe Tinubu is eminently qualified to bid for the highest position in the land,” he posited.