The Northern Elders Forum has declared that the North must retain the presidency if Buhari’s failing health prevents him from seeking re-election in 2019.
Spokesman of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi maintained that should Buhari fail to seek re-election in 2019, the Acting President cannot replace President Muhammadu Buhari, stressing that the region must be allowed to field a presidential candidate through the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.
However, the NEF said in accordance with the constitution, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo should be allowed to complete the current tenure but will not be allowed to contest in 2019 if there is any eventuality.
“The constitutional provision says that in the event that the president dies in office or becomes incapacitated for one reason or the other and cannot perform the duties of his office, he will be succeeded by the Vice president.
“But no one is in a position to know at what point he is going to recover fully and come back to office, or whether the unexpected could happen. The northern elders insist that Osinbajo cannot replace Buhari in 2019.
“If the worst case scenario happens, and Buhari is not back on the seat, the constitution is very clear that the vice president takes over.
“And what we then expect is that he will take that tenure to its logical end and from there, the politics of power sharing will take precedence over anything else.
“When the unexpected happens, in 2019 we will be back to our position that the north should be treated equitably and fairly. And we expect that another northern candidate will emerge as a presidential candidate on the platform of APC,” Abdullahi said.
Lamenting that the north is still marginalized in spite of the fact that Buhari is president, Abdullahi said: “To be fair and truly honest, I will say that yes, our expectations have been far above what we saw on ground. Meaning that what we were expecting from this government in terms of equity and justice to the north has not materialized up till now.”
Citing the 2016 and 2017 budgets as examples, the NEF alleged that the North was allocated about 30% of the capital and recurrent expenditures for both years, in spite of the fact that the north is more populated than the South. Abdullahi also pointed out that even in terms of landmass, the North constitutes 75 per cent of the landmass of Nigeria.
The Northern Elders Forum also alleged that some of the projects which should improve the living standard in the North have been abandoned even by the Buhari-led administration.
“Take, for example, the Mambila Power Project, the dredging of River Niger, the Ajaokuta Steel and so on. Of course, you can also blame past northern leaders who were in power when these projects were just brushed,” Abdullai said.
Moreover, the Northern Elders Forum claimed President Buhari gave key ministries in his administration to southerners “who don’t feel shy of looking after themselves first before the North, even if it’s on second thoughts.”