Governors of Northern states under the All Progressives Congress on Saturday night declared support for the next president to come from the South.
This was just as some aspirants from North and South withdrew from the race.
They are former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru; Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi; former governor of Zamfara State, Ahmad Sani.
The northern governors made the declaration in a statement signed by 11 of them.
They are: Aminu Bello Masari Governor of Katsina State
2. Abubakar Sani Bello Governor of Niger State
3. Abdullahi A. Sule Governor of Nasarawa State
4. Prof. B.G. Umara Zulum Governor of Borno State
5. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai Governor of Kaduna State
6. Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya Governor of Gombe State
7. Bello M. Matawalle Governor of Zamfara State
8. Simon Bako Lalong Governor of Plateau State
9. Senator Aliyu Wamakko Former Governor of Sokoto State
10. Dr. A.U. Ganduje Governor of Kano State
11. Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu Governor of Kebbi State
Their declaration reads: "APC governors and political leaders from the northern states of Nigeria today met to review the political situation and to further support our Party in providing progressive leadership amidst our national challenges.
During our discussions, we welcomed President Muhammadu Buhari’s invitation to governors and other stakeholders to contribute to the emergence of a strong presidential candidate for the APC.
After careful deliberation, we wish to state our firm conviction that after eight years in office of President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections should be one of our teeming members from the southern states of Nigeria. It is a question of honour for the APC, an obligation that is not in anyway affected by the decisions taken by another political party. We affirm that upholding this principle is in the interest of building a stronger, more united and more progressive country.
We therefore wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC’s presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states.
We appeal to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries.
We are delighted by the decision of our esteemed colleague, His Excellency, Governor Abubakar Badaru to contribute to this patriotic quest by withdrawing his presidential aspiration.
The APC has a duty to ensure that the 2023 elections offer a nation-building moment, reaffirming that a democratic pathway to power exists for all who value cooperation and build national platforms. This moment calls for the most sober and inclusive approach to selecting our party’s candidate, and we call on all APC leaders to fulfil their responsibility in this regard."
In a swift response, Southern governors welcomed the move and urged all Northern aspirants to step down immediately.
The statement by Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who is also the chairman, Southern Governors ‘ Forum, reads: "We received with utmost joy the news of the resolution of the 11 Governors from the Northern Region thus:
" We therefore wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammad Buhari that the search for his successor as the APC Presidential Candidate be limited to our compatriots from the Southern states. We appeal to all aspirants from the Northern state to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries. We are delighted by the decision of our esteem colleague His Excellency Gov Abubakar Badru to contribute to this patriotic quest by withdrawing his presidential aspiration."
We did not expect anything short of this heart-warming decision from our colleagues, great patriots and reliable partners in the collaborative efforts geared towards the attainment of nationhood for our dear country. This is indeed another landmark achievement in our quest for understanding, rapprochement and continual engagements for mutual beneficence.
We acknowledge this courageous stance for equity and moral rectitude. We applaud the zeal and determination of our brothers to engage realistically and honestly. We salute this uncommon resolve to confront issues militating against the march towards nationhood and ultimate greatness. By this gesture, we are convinced of the seriousness of our colleagues to join other patriots in ensuring that the ascendant march towards stability, progress and prosperity is not truncated by indiscretion.
We congratulate our brother Governor, Abubakar Badaru, for his exemplary conduct. Posterity will remember him for good. We thank the leadership of the Northern Governors’ Forum for the patriotic zest displayed at this crucial moment. We look forward to conducting a hitch free Convention which will culminate in the election of a suitable candidate who will hoist the flag of the party with a sense of mission."
Ahead of his meeting with the party’s 23 presidential at the State House, Abuja on Saturday night, President Muhammadu Buhari had urged them to build consensus among themselves irrespective of their qualifications.