Fredrick Nwabufo, columnist and journalist, has asked political parties to zone their presidential tickets based on the “geography of competence and character”, rather than ethnicity and religion.
Nwabufo spoke on Wednesday during a television programme titled, “Village Square Africa” on News Central TV.
Ahead of the 2023 elections, there have been calls for the next president of the country to come from the southern part of the country – with particular reference to the South-east.
Speaking on the issue of zoning, the columnist, who is popularly known as Mr OneNigeria, said the competence and character of the next president should be the focus of Nigerians instead of emphasis on the region, ethnic group and religion of the next president.
Nwabufo said Nigeria needs a “Nigerian president” who will represent all Nigerians, and not a president who will represent one section of the country.
The columnist said despite the zoning of presidential tickets since 1999, the problems bedeviling the country remain the same.
“It is an interesting time; I believe we will have an election in 2023 where an incumbent president will not be running, and it makes it much more interesting because it is an open ticket,” Nwabufo said.
“Any party or anybody can take it because the power of incumbency is limited in this case.
“We have clamours for political parties to cede the presidential ticket to the south, and of course, it has been a back and forth. There are arguments for and against that.
“Personally, I believe what we should be talking about now is competence. Political parties should zone their presidential tickets to the geography of competence.
“If I should rephrase that, political parties should zone their presidential tickets to the axis of competence, capacity and character.
“This is the problem we have had over the years. We emphasise ethnicity and religion. Some of the presidential hopefuls that have shown interest have been toeing that path.
“We have a problem of putting emphasis on what should be secondary and not on primary matters of competence, character, ability, antecedents and proven track record – which should ordinarily be the issues that should guide the 2023 elections.
“But unfortunately we are seeing religion and ethnicity being the topmost issues in this season. The questions are — what has zoning done for us over the years? How has zoning changed Nigeria?
”The problem is when you cede a presidential ticket to a particular zone on the basis of ‘it is our turn’, the person who is coming to contest is coming to represent his region and not Nigerians.
“We should be talking about a Nigerian president not an Igbo president. That is why I totally repudiate the phrase ‘Igbo presidency’. It is wrong to say Igbo presidency. These are some of the things we need to correct.
“We need a Nigerian president, not a president of the south-east, the south-west or the north; the president that will represent all Nigerians; that will be for all Nigerians.
“We have been through this path before. When you start ceding or start amplifying ethnic agenda and issues, the person who emerges will want to favour his own side of the country because he believes that he is at the presidency to represent his region.”