Leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has said the North was not interested in ceding power to any of the geo-political zones in the southern part of the country in the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC).
The elder statesman made the claim yesterday, at the forum of the Greater Nigeria Conference, (GNC), organised by leaders and friends of the South-East geo-political zone.
The venue was the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Chieftains of the APC who have formally signified interest in the party presidential ticket include Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Ibikunle Amosun, former governors of Lagos and Ogun State, serving governors of Ekiti and Ebonyi States, Kayode Fayemi and David Umahi and Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo.
The list also includes former governors of Rivers and Enugu State, Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Chris Ngige. There is a strong indication that former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan could dump the Peoples Democratic Party for the APC and contest for the latter presidential ticket.
Doing a critique of aspirants from the entire South, the Elder statesman declared that the North led by President Muhammadu Buhari was deliberately promoting confusion among the party chieftains from the South.
While lending his voice in support of the President of South-East extraction in 2023, Chief Adebanjo admonished politicians from the region, across political divides to close ranks ahead of the next general elections.
“The North doesn’t want to leave power, while the South is slugging it out, they put their candidate up. We can still be together if we have a government that will give autonomy to regions”, he stated.
In his contribution, former Federal Commissioner for Information and Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark, spoke in a similar vein, as he said the South-East be allowed to produce President for the country in 2023.
He said: “The people of the South East deserve to have a sense of belonging in this Country. So, the clamour for a president for the South’s geo-political zone is supported by me. Today, with no other tangible reason for still wanting to hold on to power, some people are talking about merit and competence. To these people my response is simple, we must all woo, and win, each other because every part of this country has a beautiful bride and every part has a handsome groom.
“It will not cost money or anything to make Nigeria better. All that is required is for us to demonstrate reciprocal respect, love and understanding to one another. Let us do what is right; let us accommodate one another, and be fair to one another. Let all other Nigerians support a South-Eastern Candidate for President, come 2023. I repeat, very soon,
“I will be 95 years old. I have spent more than 70 years of this period in Nigerian affairs. I have seen it all. For the peace and sanity of the country, I appeal to all, in the name of the Almighty God, to make this concession to the Igbos, to present a President for Nigeria. And like every other part of the country, they have the men and women, who are competent, patriotic, loyal, intelligent, industrious, healthy and active, whom Nigerians will be proud of, to occupy the position. Let us give them a chance.”
In his welcome address, Senator Chris Anyanwu who spoke on behalf of leaders of the GNC told the gathering that the focus of the organisers was to call attention to the threat to the unity of the country which he claimed was being promoted with the exclusion of a section of the country from the exalted office of Presidency.