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How northern APC governors preserved Nigeria’s unity

The February 25 Presidential election has come and gone, with the victory for our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose candidate, Asiwaju Bola…

The February 25 Presidential election has come and gone, with the victory for our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was returned as the winner of the keenly contested presidential election.

While we bask in the euphoria of this hard-fought victory and celebrate an imminent transition from one APC led federal government to another, it is my view that the stakeholders who rose above ethnic and regional proclivities and stood for the interest of a United Nigeria; those whose patriotic actions, whose unusual cosmopolitan disposition became the saving grace for our wobbling unity are the true champions of our democracy as a nation and our unity as a complex country of diverse backgrounds.

There is no doubt that pressure mounted on the APC to field a northern candidate. Those who pushed for a northern candidacy had argued that with Atiku emerging as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the presidential election, the APC needed a northern candidate to match him vote for vote in the northern region of the country. This argument was aggressively advanced without recourse to the fact that for the past seven years plus, the affairs of this country have been helmed by a president of northern extraction.

It could be effectively argued that the northern candidacy agenda was devoid of the bond of patriotism as it tended towards upsetting the tinge of national cohesion the country currently enjoys. It was capable of uprooting the wobbling foundations of our unity and sparking dangerous regional rivalry with our hard-earned democracy and cherished unity at the receiving end.

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We are grateful to the northern APC governors who stood their ground, who refused to jettison the unwritten zoning agreement between the North and South in the leadership of this country. Their courage and conviction to push through even when it was rumoured at a point that Mr President had anointed a northerner for the APC Presidential ticket, and despite having colleagues who were also aspirants in the presidential race, is a commendable act of selflessness and patriotism, which deeply reflects the integrity of the northern governors, and the depth of our democratic maturity as a people. Posterity will remember their contributions fondly, they will pat themselves on the back and be proud of all those who stood firm in ensuring that power moved to the South.

It is also noteworthy to add that the insistence of these northern APC governors that power must return to the south became a magic wand for the victory of the candidate of our party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the presidential election. It is my considered view that if we had fielded a northerner as the candidate of the party, our party wouldn’t have garnered the massive support of the overwhelming majority of Nigerians who would have shown sympathy to any southern candidate in the race. Suffice to say that while the patriotic act of the northern APC governors strengthened our unity as a nation, it was also a potent political strategy that earned our party a deserved victory in the just concluded presidential polls.

Special recognition must be given to all others aside the APC northern governors who also played key roles in ensuring that power returned to the south. The Vice-President elect, H.E Senator Kashim Shettima is one of those who stood for, spoke for and fervently canvassed support for a power-shift to the South. History will forever remain kind to him and other compatriots whose principled stance on power shift to the south has further renewed the inspiration for a one indissoluble Nigeria.

Chief Stephen Lawani, OFR, is a former deputy governor of Benue state

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