Former Senate president, Anyim Pius Anyim, has said no ethnic group can handpick the presidential candidate of any political party or ask an aspirant to step down for a preferred individual.
Speaking on Arise TV yesterday, Anyim, who recently declared his ambition to contest for the presidency in 2023 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said though southern Nigeria should be the region to produce the president, he was concerned about making himself acceptable to all zones in the country.
“I want to say we may come from the South East but we are from Nigeria and whoever must be the president of Nigeria must not be whoever the South East hand picks. I am very concerned about making myself acceptable to South East, North East, South West, South South, North West and North Central zone because I am seeking to be the president of Nigeria.
“One thing I can say straight away is that at the primary level, everyone will emerge from his own party and I do not see how any ethnic group will come and decide for the parties who to be their candidate or how they would ask somebody to step down for someone they have preferred to be their candidate. I don’t know how that would work and I don’t want to get into that. I want to say that my commitment is to preside over Nigeria and I must be acceptable by every part of the country.”
On the issue of Igbo presidency, Anyim said the country’s constitution mandates that every aspect of governance must reflect federal character and since the presidency has been in the North, it was the turn of the South.
“The issue of equity, fairness and justice is certainly a fundamental one. In 1999, when the two presidential candidates emerged from the South West, eventually, Olusegun Obasanjo became the president and he was president of Nigeria and not president of South West. In fact, most of his votes came from outside the South West and that is the reason why it is very critical that every person aspiring should realise that equity, fairness and justice is a fundamental issue.
“Nigeria’s constitution mandates that every aspect of governance must reflect federal character. So, what we are saying is that the presidency has been in the North and it is now the turn of the South and that makes sense. In the constitution of the PDP, which is my party, zoning of elective offices is very clear and it is between the North and the South. I have heard people say there are other zones like the North East and North Central that haven’t produced president but that is not the issue. The zoning principle in the PDP constitution is that rotation is between the north and the south. When it gets to the South, they can micro zone it. It is only fair that every section of the country must have a sense of belonging. The rules have been established and not following it will be a burden on the conscience of the nation.”
Anyim said blame for the recurring incidents of budget padding should not be heaped on the National Assembly but on occupants of the presidential villa.
“Whatever is happening in the National Assembly is a function of the character in the (Presidential) Villa. During my time in the Senate, we didn’t have any budget issues as such and the way budgets are implemented are not the same.
When Obasanjo was president, the National Assembly had peculiar challenges of its own. When Goodluck was president, the National Assembly had the best of times. The summary of my position is that whatever you see happening in the National Assembly is a function of the character in the villa,” Anyim said.