AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna 

  • ‘We abhor the language of South governors’

  • ‘Politics is about negotiation, horse trading’

Governors in the North are not opposed to power shift to the South in 2023 and did not imply that at their meeting on Monday, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has clarified.

According to him, the communiqué of the meeting was misconstrued.

The meeting which was attended by foremost traditional rulers in the North, including Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Saad Abubakar, was widely reported to have described the call for power shift as “unconstitutional” and “contradictory”.

But EL-Rufai has now said what the North’s governors were unhappy about is the language used by South’s governors at their meetings in Asaba, Lagos and Enugu where they said “power must shift to the South”.

El-Rufai, speaking to some broadcast stations service, on Tuesday night, said Northern governors were alarmed that their southern counterparts used “must” in their agitation for power shift.

He said the word “must” is at variance with democracy, which is characterised by negotiations and horse-trading by parties.

The governor recalled that “some other Northern governors had earlier called for power shift in 2023 in their individual capacities to foster national unity and togetherness.”

He added that as one of the governors in support of power shift, he was “called names by our people for making that call.”

El-Rufai argued that the Southern governors could have reached out to their counterparts in the North on the issue, instead of playing to the gallery.

He accused the media of misrepresenting the resolution of the Northern governors on power shift.

“The North has supported southern presidential aspirants in the past. We ‘supported Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s aspiration in 1999 and his re-election in 2003,” he recalled.

According to El-Rufai, power shift is enshrined in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) constitutions.

He said the PDP flouted its power rotation provision in 2011 by allowing former President Goodluck Jonathan to contest.

Governors Babagana Zulum (Borno), Bello Masari (Katsina) and Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) have at different fora openly canvassed power rotation to the South in 2023 to facilitate cohesion and cement the unity of the country.

Speaking after the North’s Governors’ meeting’s communiqué was made public, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) canvassed negotiation by governors of the North and the South.

“What is left is for the Northern governors to engage with their Southern colleagues on the way forward,” NEF spokesman Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed said.