The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has urged voters in the South-West to support President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 elections. One of his main arguments is that voting for Buhari will ensure that the presidency will return to the region at the completion of Buhari’s tenure in 2023.
Backstory: The former governor was speaking on Thursday at a town hall meeting in Ibadan, the Oyo capital organized by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and the National Orientation Agency.
“Do you know that power is rotating to the South-West after the completion of Buhari’s tenure if you vote for him in 2019?” Fashola said in Yoruba. “A vote for Buhari in 2019, means a return of power to the South West in 2023. I am sure you will vote wisely.”
Why this matters: First, this is about the politics of 2019. The two biggest parties are both fielding candidates from the North. If Atiku Abubakar of the PDP wins, he will be constitutionally entitled to a second term at the expiration of his tenure. Fashola is trying to appeal to the sentiments in his audience who may harbor fears that if they vote for Atiku and he wins reelection in 2023, the North would have held the position for 12 straight years. Whereas if Buhari wins next year, power can return to the South afterwards. Atiku has however said that he will stay in office for only one term if elected president.
The second reason why Fashola’s comments matter is because there is belief that the next Southerner to be elected president should be Igbo. Of Nigeria’s three largest tribes, only the Igbos are yet to produce a president since 1999. In fact the last democratic president from the South East was Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president. Fashola’s comments effectively means that the Igbos may have to wait for a long while before getting an opportunity. Those sentiments form parts of the reason why Atiku’s choice of Peter Obi as his running mate resonated in the South East.