*Says parties must respect zoning
*Atiku ‘ll defeat Tinubu if… says the elder statesman
From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai has predicted that the 2019 presidential flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will defeat the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu if their parties present them as presidential candidates in the 2023 general elections.
Yakasai, (94) spoke at his Kano residence on Wednesday.
The First Republic politician and founding member of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), however, submitted that Tinubu remains a better choice for APC in 2023.
He warned the ruling party against zoning the presidency to the North, arguing that since President Muhammadu Buhari is in his second term which will terminate in 2023, “it is only fair for the APC to shop for a presidential candidate from the South.”
He recalled that at the expiration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure in 2007, “despite pressures from his brothers in the South, he presented the late former President, Umar Musa Yar’Adua from the North because he is from the South,” stressing, “that was fair enough.”
Yakasai admired the presidential ambition being bandied around Tinubu, expressing optimism that the former Govenor of Lagos State and National Leader of the APC would perform better than President Buhari.
Yakasai, who is also a member, Board of Trustees (BoT), Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), however, expressed regrets that President Buhari’s administration has disappointed Nigerians because of “poor planning.”
He gave Tibunu’s stewardship in Lagos as Governor a pass mark, arguing that with the kind of leadership Tinubu is demonstrating in Lagos, he would surely make a better President if given the opportunity by his party and Nigerians in 2023.
According to him, “if you are talking of making a better president, to be honest with you, I think if Tinubu can get the APC ticket and is elected, he will perform better than Buhari. This, I have no doubt in my mind.
“Go to Lagos and see what Tinubu did. I haven’t been to Lagos for a very long time until last year when I was invited to be Special Guest of Honour at an occasion, and then, I had been hearing of Lekki, so, when I went for the occasion. I took my time on the day of my arrival, to go and have a look at Lekki.
“I went in front of Ekko Hotel and I saw the area, the reclamation, buildings and general development that took place looking beautiful.
“The roads that I knew used to be very rough, were all good when I went this time around. So, I was impressed by the number of development projects that were executed by Tinubu.
“I think, in my opinion, Tinubu can make a better president than Buhari. What makes a better political leader in a government is plan. If you have a plan, you can do it; without a plan, you cannot perform.
“I saw the place earmarked for ports and the mega railway junction and many other things. These are plans that when you have and you get opportunity, you implement them.
“That is the reason why I said Tinubu is likely to be a better president than Buhari, because he has done it before.
“Buhari had got the opportunity when he was Military Head of States, combining two powers to himself-executive and legislative.
“He was the one signing decrees and yet, for two years, apart from his War Against Indiscipline (WAI), I cannot remember what else he did.
“What makes a political leader is plan. If you have a plan, you can do it, if you don’t have a plan, you cannot do it.”
The former Political Adviser to Second Republic President, Shehu Shagari, however, predicted that Atiku may defeat Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election.
According to Yakasai, Atiku and Tinubu will make better presidents, but Atiku stands a better chance to win Tinubu because of the numerical strength in the North.
He also cited Atiku’s nation-wide political, social and business networks, arguing that, “if Atiku is contesting, majority of the votes from the North will go for him.”
Speaking further on the issue of zoning the presidency, he said: “I happened to be a founding member of NPN. And the idea of zoning or rotation was introduced in the Nigerian political vocabulary by the NPN, to the extent that the party incited provisions as its constitution for zoning and rotation. But it was done on the basis of certain public and party offices that would be zoned between north and south.
“Now, most political parties have indicated acceptance to zoning and rotation by making declarations, others by implications.
“The APC sponsored Muhammadu Buhari and he is now in his second term. In my opinion, the APC is duty bond to sponsor the next presidential candidate from the south.
“This is because Buhari is doing two consecutive terms. Just like Obasanjo did, when he did two consecutive terms from the south, when his people from his own region (south) wanted to contest the presidency, he conscripted Umaru Yar’Adua from the north, and he said he was doing it to allow the north produce the president after the south had produced the president (him) for two consecutive terms of eight years.
“So, in my opinion, it is incumbent on the the APC to sponsor the next presidential candidate from the south.
“For the PDP and other political parties, it is a matter of wish – if they so wish, they can sponsor their candidates from the south or north, because they have not done two terms at this point in time.
“The principle of zoning and rotation is very important in Nigerian politics, particularly as long as we are operating presidential system of government.
“This is particularly because the concentration of power lies with the federal government and the presidency.
“It would be inappropriate to attempt to run the presidency by a single region for more than eight years.”