The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, said on Friday the 1999 Constitution does not recognise the zoning of the country’s presidency.
The governor, who stated this at the First Annual GYB Seminar for Nigeria’s Political and Crime Correspondents held in Transcorp Hotel, Abuja, urged Nigerians to place merit above zoning.
He, however, called for equity if the presidency must be zoned in 2023.
Bello’s statement came just a few days after the Southern Governors’ Forum had demanded that the region should be given the chance to produce the country’s next President in two years’ time.
Surprisingly, several politicians in the northern part of the country including the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai; and former Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima; had declared their support for power shift to southern Nigeria.
Bello said: “On zoning presidency to a particular zone in 2023, we must apply equity in the process. Democracy is all about free will. Let no political party limit the choice to a particular zone.
“Zoning is not recognised in the 1999 Constitution, it’s absolutely, unconstitutional.
“Let’s not take it from 1999, let’s go back to 1960. From the independence, all the leaders we had, you will discover that all other geo-political zones as it exists today at one time had a position of leadership.
“In the 2023 presidential election, let the best candidate emerge who will unify and solve the problems of this country we are facing today, who will build on the legacies of Mr. President. It’s high time the youth take over the affairs of this country.
“I have always led from the front based on equity, fairness and justice. To be a leader, I will say let us be sincere.
“Younger generations are taking charge across the world. It is high time we look for a credible candidate based on merit and not by zoning.
“As the clarion call goes forth for 2023, one can easily discern by events such as this that the organised media in Nigeria is already working hard to crack the complex equation of who the next Nigerian President should be.
“All I can say is that in factoring your 2023 equations, please allow yourselves to be guided by national interest to input the following factors: youthfulness, courage, security, diversity, clear records in successfully managing diversity which is where most post-independence leaders of Nigeria have failed.”