…APC selling one land to two buyers Afenifere .Olawepo-Hashim Warns Against Balkanisation Of Nigeria
The issue of who gets the presidency in 2023 is already causing tension between the South East and South West, Independent report.
Some Nigerians have also alleged that it may be a calculated attempt by the northern establishment and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to use the idea of the 2023 presidency to cause crisis in the South, especially between the South West and the South East.
While the nation is yet to hold the 2019 presidential election which is billed for next month, the South West and the South East are already locked in political battle as to which zone would produce the president in 2023.
Secretary to Government of the Federation (SFG), Boss Mustapha, had stirred the hornet’s nest when he promised that the ruling APC would ensure that the South East produces the president in 2023 should they support the second term aspiration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, at a town hall meeting later, urged the people of the South West to vote for President Buhari now so that the region could get the presidency in 2023.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also corroborated Fashola’s claim when he said the success of President Buhari and the APC in the 2019 elections was the only way the South West could secure the presidency in 2023.
The issue is already causing a sharp division between the two regions as key leaders of the zones have traded words over whose zone would be the major beneficiary when the party zones it to the South.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Sunday, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South West, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Southern region should tread carefully on the issue as the Northern establishment was using the issue to cause confusion in the region.
He said: “I think the Southern region, especially our brothers in the East and West, should be careful with the way they are going about the 2023 presidency agitation.
“We should be careful so that it does not turn into another ethnic war between the Yorubas and Igbos.
“If you notice, the Northern establishments are just watching by the side without making any commentary on the issue yet the whole issue was started by a northerner, Boss Mustapha, who is also a chieftain of APC.”
In his remark, the presidential candidate of the People’s Trust, Gbenga Olawepo Hashim, expressed shock and dismay at the increasing ethnicisation of the February presidential race by high-ranking state officials.
Olawepo-Hashim warned that the trend was an unwitting attempt at Somalisation of Nigerian politics.
Speaking in Lagos while hosting a brainstorming session on finding national consensus over the state of the nation, Olawepo-Hashim slammed those in high offices who are dangling the 2023 presidential ticket as a political carrot, describing them as “agents of ethnic balkanisation and political retrogression”.
The presidential hopeful who alerted the nation to the emerging deterioration of standard and norms in high offices, said it was alarming that the vice president of the nation was allegedly leading the ethnicisation campaign.
He wondered why the high office of vice president should be dragged in the mud of tribal bigotry.
“That reprehensible statement promising 2023 presidency to the South West should never have emanated from the Office of the Vice-President.
“That office transcends tribal thinking. The presidency is and should be a rallying point for all Nigerians, irrespective of tribes or religion,” Olawepo-Hashim said.
He pointed out that tribal campaign hinged on 2023 as a promissory note confirmed the shallowness of political discourse as issue-based campaigns had been jettisoned by the two mainstream political parties.
“Nigerians have grown beyond this bigotry through inter-marriage, electoral endorsement, and business union.
“As early as First Republic, the Tiv people elected a Kanuri man as their representative to the northern House of Assembly.
“In 1993, the late Abiola beat Bashir Tofa in Kano. Today so disappointedly, some top leaders, instead of building on our achievements in the area of national unity, are busy pushing to split and reopen old animosity and rancour among our people,” he lamented.
Wondering why politics and campaign could not be about higher ideals of national unity and prosperity, the PT candidate affirmed that the presidency of Nigeria should be about merit, competence, and passion to deliver on good governance, not the drumming of ethnic card or the promotion of tribal advantage.
“The presidency must be about how further to unite the country, not how to divide it more. It must be about how to bring progress, not how to foster under-development. It is not about ethnicity or religion but on what you have to offer the people and the state,” he said.
Speaking on the issue, Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, said rather than blame the North over the crisis, the blame should go to the APC and some of its leaders such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Osinbajo, and Fashola.
He said: “I really don’t agree it is the northern establishment. It is people like Tinubu, Osinbajo, and Fashola and some Igbo politicians who are very strong on the position of 2023 presidency.
“It is an APC agenda. APC is behaving like Omo-Onile that is selling one land to two people, by telling one people the presidency belongs to them now while also telling another region it also belongs to them.
“It is an agenda to cause confusion which cannot work for us because restructuring Nigeria is more important than 2023. 2023 presidency cannot do anything for anybody under this structure.”
Also speaking, Monday Ubani, former Second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said while it could not be established that the Northern establishments were the ones behind the crisis, it was clear that southerners were the ones creating the confusion through their utterances.