GOVERNORS from the southern part of Nigeria have said that the country’s next president should emerge from their region in 2023.
In a communique issued at the end of a meeting of Southern Governors Forum in Lagos on Monday, the chief executives of states in the region said the presidency should be rotated between the North and the South.
“The Forum re-afffirmed its commitment to the unity of Nigeria on the pillars of equity, fairness, justice, progress and peaceful co-existence between and among its people.”
Political parties in Nigeria have rotated their presidential candidates between the North and the South since 1999. The two regions have had their turns in Aso Rock, with two southern and two northern presidents occupying the coveted seat of power in the last 22 years of return to democracy.
There has, however, been a growing apprehension that the northern part of Nigeria may retain presidential powers beyond 2023 due to its demographic strength. The southern governors said, for the sake of equity, presidential powers should return to their region when Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner, left power in 2023.
The governors also said that security institutions should duly consult with the governors whenever they needed to undertake operations in their states, noting that funds deducted from the Federation Account for the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund needed to be distributed among the states and the Federal Government in order to combat security challenges.
The governors, however, said security operatives had been relentless in restoring safety in their region.
The meeting was a follow-up to a resolution reached in May at Asaba, Delta State, over the state of the nation.
Governors present at the meeting included: Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Others were Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom) and Diri Duoye (Bayelsa).
Governors of Edo, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi and Abia states who were absent at the meeting sent their respective representatives except for Cross River state Ben Ayade.
They also commiserated with the families of the security operatives that lost their lives in the line of duty. Southern Nigeria has seen escalated crises in recent times that led to the death of civilians and security operatives.
The ICIR had reported that between October 2020 and April 2021, no fewer than 21 police stations were attacked by hoodlums in South-East Nigeria.
Clashes between the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN) and security operatives have also led to several deaths and attacks.
In the South-West, the state of security has also been worsened by the recurring violent conflicts between herders and farmers.
Earlier in February, more than 28 persons had been killed following a reprisal attack on some communities in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State.
Some of the communities that suffered from the violent attacks included: Igan-Alade, Lashilo, Oja Odan, Ijoun, Ateru, Moro, Ologun, Iyana Meta, Igbooro, Egbeda and Kuse, among others.
Following the attacks, residents in the communities fled to the Republic of Benin to seek refuge against the attacks on their lives and property.
In the initial meeting of the governors in May, they had resolved to ban open grazing in all the southern states in the country. However, on Monday, they set a timeline of Wednesday, September 1, 2021, for the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in all the states in the region.
The communique also read that the southern governors had re-emphasised the need for state police.