Exclusive Interview: Why Southeast Deserves 2023 Presidency and the Role Tinubu Should Play, Jide Ojo Reveals

Exclusive Interview: Why Southeast Deserves 2023 Presidency and the Role Tinubu Should Play, Jide Ojo Reveals

Editor's Note: For over 31 years, Jide Ojo, a veteran political analyst and columnist with reputable newspapers, has been offering incisive and insightful commentaries on the developments in the Nigerian socio-political space.

In this interview with Legi.ng's political editor, Nurudeen Lawal, Ojo shared his views regarding the agitations on power shift ahead of the 2023 elections.

He also explained why the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra should be held as scheduled despite the security threats in the state.

2023: Why Southeast Deserves Presidency and the Role Tinubu Should Play, Political Analyst Jide Ojo Reveals
Jide Ojo, a veteran political analyst and columnist with reputable newspapers, says the southeast deserves the presidency in 2023. Photo credit: Jide Ojo
Source: Facebook

There have been agitations that the 2023 presidency should be zoned to the south. Do you support the power shift? If yes, which of the zones in the south should produce the next president?

I have not hidden my own support for power shift or power rotation as it were. I think that is how we can attain some level of equity, justice and fairness because if we go by only the numerical strength, there will be dominance (of one region over the other).

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And that’s why Section 14 sub-section 1, 3, 4 of the constitution talks about Federal Character Principle. So, if you look at this Fourth Republic which started in 1999, we have been alternating power between north and south. So you have president Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007 and then power shifted to the north and then you have President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Then the power came to the south again, this time south-south and it went to Goodluck Jonathan. And it went up north again, to the northwest.

So, that’s how an equilibrium has been maintained between northern Nigeria and southern Nigeria. And I think for a federal system like ours, with multi-religious and multi-ethnic groups numbering over 300, it is important for us to avoid the domination of one tribe or ethnic group over the other. So I'm in support of power rotation.

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If the two major parties agree to zone their tickets to the south, which of the zones in the south, southwest or southeast, should be picked?

For me, again, I believe in equity, justice and fairness. I believe the power should not only be zoned to the south but southeast. Even though I am a Yoruba by ethnic grouping, I believe that we have had eight years of Obasanjo presidency in the southwest. We have also had another eight years of vice presidency of Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

So, the southwest can no longer cry of marginalisation the way they were doing between 1993 when the presidential election was annulled and now. So, the southwest has been adequately compensated with the presidency of Obasanjo and then the vice presidency of Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

And I believe, in the spirit of equity, justice and fairness, that power should shift to the southeast. So that it can douse the separatist agitation in the southeast and don’t forget, people will say southeast does not have the numbers, they are in opposition majorly and all of that. Whatever argument you want to put forward, it’s not about whether you are in the mainstream or opposition. When the political elites supported the southwest to produce the presidency in 1999, it was not on the basis of whether they have the numbers or they are in opposition or mainstream.

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Historically, the southwest has always been in opposition to the centre up until that time and that was part of the argument that was put forward that they don’t want Yorubas to become the president of Nigeria. So, the political elites of Nigeria in 1998/1999 decided to zone the presidency to the southwest, deliberately so. We had three political parties, the Alliance for Democracy, the All Progressives Party and the Peoples Democratic Party. And you will recall that the AD and the APP went into a working alliance and decided to field Chief Olu Falae, former minister of finance, former secretary to the federation, while the PDP elected Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former head of state, at their convention. So, head or tail, among the candidates, it was a Yoruba person that became the president in 1999.

The same kind of political arrangement can be made for the Igbos. Once the PDP and the APC decide to zone their presidential tickets to the southeast, it will bring out the best in that (ethnic) group and we will see that all the separatist agitations of MASSOB and IPOB will just fizzle out.

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Because that sense of belonging is what is lacking, that sense of belonging that is lacking is why they are crying of marginalisation and discrimination. But at least if they are able to produce the president of Nigeria and mindful of the fact that even if the president emerges from the southeast, he is not going to be a sole administrator. He is still going to govern with ministers, federal lawmakers as well as other arms of government. So, I endorse the Igbo presidency in 2023.

That is not to say Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is being promoted by SWAGA, the South-West Agenda for Bola Ahmed Tinubu 2023, is not eminently qualified. But I think in the spirit of equity, justice and fairness, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu should just kind of play the role of a statesman and ensure that at least we are able to get somebody with integrity who is from southeast Nigeria so that that the feeling of marginalisation can be doused.

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Considering the state of insecurity in Anambra, the AGF (Abubakar Malami, SAN) recently said the federal government may consider imposing a state of emergency, do you think this should be done? Or Should election hold in Anambra state in November?

I strongly believe that non-state actors should not be allowed to determine the date and time of our elections. So I believe very strongly that the Anambra governorship election should hold as scheduled on November 6, 2021.

Situations, where you kowtow to threats of non-state actors like IPOB or other separatist agitators, will not augur well for Nigeria. And not only that, you remember that INEC has also held stakeholders meeting with all the registered political parties and they all agreed and endorsed the date, that INEC should go ahead with that election. And the security agencies have also assured INEC of the safety and security of personnel and election materials. So I want to believe that the election should be held as scheduled.

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What Abubakar Malami (SAN) said was just very unfortunate because I don’t think the situation in Anambra has worsened to the level that you will be making a subtle threat about the declaration of a state of emergency. And you can see that when Willie Obiano, the governor of Anambra state, came the following day to meet with the president, the president said he knew nothing about that and that Malami may be acting on his own.

So, it then means he was just being overzealous unnecessarily because there is greater insecurity in any other northern state, even southeast states like Imo and Ebonyi are recording greater violence than Anambra. So, why should Anambra be treated as if there is a total breakdown of law and order, which is not the true situation? And you could see that in the last one week, there have been no reported killings and threats to peace as we used to have. More so, as at the time Malami was making that unfortunate statement, the Nigerian military had already deployed/started Operation "Golden dawn", particularly in Anambra.

Source: Legit.ng

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