By Babajide Okeowo
The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC might be heading for an internal crisis if feelers emanating from the party is anything to go by.
The issue at the center of the discord threatening the fabric of the party is centered on which region of the country will produce the next president of the country.
Two powerful ministers in the administration including Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi; his Works and Housing counterpart, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) are unanimous in their call for the presidency to move to the South.
Their position was further strengthened when a former Governor of Ogun State and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Olusegun Osoba, yesterday joined the fray in the raging debate in the party over whether or not the presidency should return to the South after the two-term tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari who is from the north in 2023.
Osoba, while fielding questions on The Morning Show, the flagship breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS CHANNEL, disclosed that there was a gentleman’s agreement during the 2013 merger talks that the presidency would rotate between the North and the South.
Recall that The Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) all came together to form the APC.
Now, ahead of the 2023 final tenure of President Buhari, there has been a swirling controversy in the ruling party over whether or not the APC should concede its presidential ticket to any of the three zones in the South; South-West, South-South, and South-East, or throw it open.
Osoba provided more insight into the pre-merger discussions on the issue yesterday when he disclosed that they agreed that the North should produce the president while the chairmanship position of the APC goes to the South.
“My honest opinion is this: I was the chairman of the constitutional drafting committee of the APC merger. We of ACN, we were the dominant group from the South, and the South-west is the home and the root of progressive politicking.
Part of the understanding in the case of rotation is a conventional understanding that the presidency will move between the North and the South. That was the reason why we now allowed the chairman (of the party to come from the South). I don’t want to use the word zoning because we definitely did not put zoning. We know it may go in conflict with the Nigerian constitution, which says anyone who is a Nigerian, who has read up to school certificate, can contest and at the age of 35, I think can contest for the presidency of the country.
But there was a clear gentlemanly understanding that the northern part of the country will produce the president when we did the merger in 2013 and the chairman of the party will then come from the South” he clarified.
Osoba stated that the understanding informed why the chairmanship of APC has remained in the South; moving from Chief Bisi Akande in the South-west to John Oyegun from South-south and also Adams Oshiomhole from South-south.
“Of course, at the end of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, the gentlemanly agreement is that the presidency will come to the South,” he added.
However, this ‘gentleman’s agreement’ is now being threatened by the position that former Zamfara State Governor, Senator Sani Yerima, and Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, representing Kano Central, have assumed.
Shekarau said rotational presidency is alien to the party as it is not in the APC constitution while Yerima has come out to rubbish any talk of a pre-merger agreement to rotate the presidency between the North and the South in the APC.
It is left to be seen if this issue will be resolved soon or will be the final straw that will break the camel’s back.