AHEAD of 2023 elections, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has expressed strong support for the emergence of a President of Southern extraction.
Ngige said this was in line with the rotation and zoning convention guiding the composition of government at various levels in Nigeria.
The minister stated that there was an understanding among the political class that the Presidency would go to the South after the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ngige, who is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), argued that zoning and rotation of power created stability, unity, equity and progress of the country.
According to him, rotation engendered confidence and patriotism and ensured that no one ethnic group or section of the country, dominated the other.
The former Anambra State Governor described those saying no such convention existed as not saying the truth.
He particularly berated the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for hibernating and waiting for APC to choose a Southern presidential candidate, so they can pick theirs from the North in clear breach of the rotation convention and even against the rotation principle enshrined in the PDP constitution.
“Their top apparatchik thinks they are smart. They want to play a fast one. They are waiting for APC to say South. Their calculation is that when that happens, they will go North. Number one, that will be an act of bad faith because it will mean that they have taken the people in the South-South and South-East that have all along supported PDP 90 per cent in all the elections, for a ride.
“The PDP will be shocked the way the South-East, the South-South and other minorities, in fact, Nigerians as a whole will revolt.
“So, if they are waiting for our great party the APC to choose a Southern candidate so they can quickly turn and present a Northern candidate at a point the dominant mood in the country is for power to shift to the South, then, they are deceiving themselves. Nigerians will shock them.”
Answering questions from journalists at his country home in Alor, Idemili South LGA of Anambra State, Ngige insisted that an unwritten agreement exists among politicians and political parties that rotation of offices should take place and in the case of PDP, written down in its constitution.
According to him, though the issue of the rotation of the prime offices in the land is not expressly written in the constitution of APC, it is by implications contained in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
“We formed the APC and I am still alive. I was then a Senator. We started the discussion even before I went to Senate in 2011. We started the discussion for the formation of APC between ACN and CPC. After the election, ANPP joined us. Then, I now brought APGA with Okorocha. Today, some people falsify issues to say that Okorocha brought APC to the South-East. It is not true. I and Ogbonnaya Onu were the fathers of APC in the South-East. I specifically brought in Okorocha, Annie Okonkwo and Osita Izunaso. They are the three leading people we brought into the formation committee.
“After formation, we set up a 32-man Interim Management Committee, serving like working committee members. We were drawn from ACN as senior partners with six governors, ANPP had three governors, CPC one governor, APGA one governor and then, DPP with one Senator and some House of Representatives members.
“I was the secretary at our first convention and I took all the minutes. We had an agreement that our flag-bearer would come from the North and after North, it would go down to the South. So, those who are talking today were not there when this agreement was made. But was it written down and signed by politicians from both sides? No. But we had minutes of the meeting. They are there. It was agreed that there would be a movement between North and South.
“As we were doing the convention and filling in offices, we narrowed down our candidates to about two or three. But, among the candidates, General Buhari was topping. All of us from the ACN caucus had agreed that he was our candidate. CPC had agreed that he would be their candidate. ANPP was split into two. So, when we went to the presidential convention, he emerged with a wide margin. That is the truth of the matter.
“So, we expect that our national chairman this time around will come from the North and our Presidential candidate will come from the South and it is left for the Southerners to decide the zone it will go among South-East, South-South and South-West but for equity and moral ground, the South-East being the only yet to produce the President since 1999 should be given the chance