By Laleye Dipo
Former Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, has stated that most Nigerians misunderstood the recent views of Alhaji Mammam Daura, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, on the 2023 presidency of the country.
Aliyu said what he felt Daura was trying to say was that whichever part of Nigeria that will produce the next president, the competence of the person should be the yardstick not the area of the country such a person comes from.
The former governor, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, who gave the clarification in Minna, Niger State, at the weekend while fielding questions from journalists at his residence, noted that Nigeria needs competent people to move its ship forward after experimenting with zoning for over 20 years.
Aliyu said Daura should not be crucified “because it is obvious that after over 20 years, the zoning arrangements have failed to produce the desired result.
“I think what he (Daura) is saying is that after over 20 years, zoning has rarely produced the best for the country, and in the process, are we not just producing a northern president, a southern president or a possible South-east president,” adding that “whatever system you have, you have an objective to achieve. After over 20 years of zoning arrangements, have we rarely produced the best for the country?
“We had zoning from 1999 till date because we wanted unity, and we wanted every part of the country to have sense of belonging. We want Nigeria as one, so the zoning makes it obvious that everybody will be able to participate, but has it given us what we wanted?
“For me I think Daura is simply saying we have had zoning three times, why don’t we look at something else; shouldn’t we move to another stage and see what happens, because if you say it is my turn, it doesn’t really make you to look for that thing.”
Aliyu advised that Daura’s comment on zoning should not elicit unnecessary bickering because “it’s like flying a kite,” pointing out that “whether you zone it or not, election is about the number of votes you are able to gather, so let the people determine what happens in 2023. The society should determine what they want and how to get it.”
The former governor also defended Daura’s comment by drawing an analogy from the United States of America, saying: “In the US today, two contagious states have produced both the president and the vice president because they have reached that level to say we don’t need that zoning, let the best come from anywhere,” admitting that it could not be achieved in Nigeria in one day.
He nonetheless said Nigerians should exercise a lot of caution while seeking to get a competent president because “it is not the process itself that will throw up a competent president but the honesty of the people.”
Daura, an elder statesman, had in a recent interview aired by BBC Hausa Service dismissed the issue of zoning and rotation of the nation’s presidency.
He had argued that competence, not geography, should determine the next president of Nigeria in 2023, stressing that: “This turn-by-turn was done once, twice, and three times. It is better for this country to be one it should be for the most competent person and not for someone who comes from somewhere.”
Many ethnic groups in the country, including the Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo, have kicked against the statement, saying it was a subtle way of saying the North wants to continue with the presidency in 2023.