Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, has faulted the recent comment by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State over rotational presidency, saying the governor was in school when the agreement was reached.
The governor had stirred the hornet’s nest during a maiden edition of the ‘Governor Yahaya Bello seminar for political and crime correspondents’ in Abuja on Friday, by describing rotational presidency as unconstitutional.
But Ohanaeze, in statement by its spokesman Alex Ogbonnia said, Mr Ogbonnia said there was actually an agreement for rotational presidency in Nigeria between the North and the South.
“Governor Bello was still a student, studying accountancy at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria when an agreement was reached between the North and the South with respect to Rotational Presidency.
“The meeting was held at the National University Commission (NUC) Conference Centre, Abuja, in 1998. Dr Chuba Okadigbo spoke on behalf of the South while Alh Abubakar Rimi spoke for the North.
“The likes of Dr Alex Ekwueme, Chief Solomon Lar, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo were at the meeting. The Nigerian statesmen examined the merits and demerits of zoning and rotation of power between the composite zones in Nigeria.
“At the end, it was resolved that the presidency be conceded to the South, and that it would rotate between the South and the North in the interest of equity, unity and corporate existence of Nigeria.
“The foregoing was the basis for the emergence of presidential candidates of the mainstream political parties from the Southwest in 1999.
“Since then, the patriotic and peace-loving Nigerians have adhered to the rotation principle, such that at the end of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s second tenure, President Musa Yar’Adua was elected; Goodluck Jonathan and then President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The above expose informs the resolution by the Southern governors that the South should produce the next president of Nigeria after President Buhari.”
The group said the governor has demonstrated a remarkable obsession with ambition shortly after providence paved way for him to be sworn in as the governor of Kogi State in 2015 at the age of 40.
“There is no doubt that Bello has a date with destiny going by a smooth political ascendancy that life has presented to him. However, I have my fears that he is embarking on a political adventure that lacks both conscience and principle.
“The immortal words of Uthman Dan Fodio that ‘conscience is an open wound and only the truth can heal it’ should serve as a moral compass to Nigerian leaders,” he said.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by George Obiozor, therefore advised the governor that “it will serve his interest better if he supports the resolution by his southern colleagues; since age is still in his favour”.
According to the statement, “Bello is beckoned to the ethical functional relationship between the morality of an agreement and the legality of the constitution.
“For purpose of clarity, morality is the universal foundation of Laws. On the other hand, law should be seen to stand in defence of morality,” the statement added.