In a statement made available to journalists on Thursday, PANDEF’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ken Robinson, said such thinking was misplaced.
“We consider declarations, by some individuals and groups, now, suddenly opposing the extant practice of rotational zoning of political offices, particularly that of the presidency, as unpatriotic and self-serving.
“Given the multi-faceted heterogeneity of our country, Nigerians should be critically concerned, not only about the credibility and competence of those aspiring to occupy the highest office, but also, where they come.
“We must conscientiously ensure that zoning, especially for the office of president and governors, is very well maintained. Besides, PANDEF firmly affirms that no zone of the country is in want of men and women of noble character, acumen, competence, and integrity, to lead Nigeria at this crucial time.
“To say suddenly in 2021 that the presidency should be open to all zones in 2023 amounts to moving the goalpost in the 87th of a 90-minute game, implying that somebody from Daura, Katsina State can again become president of Nigeria in 2023 within the present mood of the country.
“PANDEF says a big NO! to such an attempt to worsen the current bare threads of national cohesion, unity and all-around prosperity,” the statement said.
The apex South-South socio-cultural group urged northerners who are hungry for the presidency to wait till 2031 to whet their political appetite.
“Political stakeholders need to demonstrate pristine, honourable, and patriotic etiquette of civility to whittle down the thick tensions, arising from the all-around dissensions and alleviate the pain, suffering and unpleasant conditions that the vast majority of citizens are facing.
“Reckless political machinations, to arrogate power to one part of the Country will only worsen the ensuing debilitating state of affairs. Those saying that zoning is unconstitutional are, truth be told, barefaced mischief-makers. They behave as if the Federal Republic of Nigeria is an ‘animal kingdom.’ Perhaps, that’s what some want the country to become.
“The Federal Character Principle, sadly, now being brazenly infringed by the Buhari administration, was introduced to address the problems of disproportionate, and ethnicity-based domination of the country, by ensuring that the composition of every government, all over the Federation, reflects all its different parts,” the group averred.
PANDEF, in the strong-worded piece, cited Section 134 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which provides that a seeker of the presidency should have a spread of acceptance across the zones by scoring at least a quarter of votes cast at the election in “each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
This, the group cited, was enshrined in the constitution “to check sectional preponderancy, and guarantee balanced spread, above all, a secure sense of inclusiveness, in the political governance of the country.”
PANDEF added that that was the reason political parties “have long adopted the counterbalance of presidential and vice-presidential candidates between the North and South.”