A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, says President Muhammadu Buhari's successor should come from the southern region of the country.

Lawal especially expressed objection to certain political factions in the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) opposed to the likely candidacy of the party's national leader, Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu, a former Lagos governor, has been nursing a coy ambition to contest in the 2023 presidential election when Buhari finishes his second term.

However, there are influential people in the party, mostly from the north, who are not comfortable with his likely run.

The recent sacking of the Adams Oshiomhole-led national working committee of the party is considered by experts as being a key strategy to cripple Tinubu's run ahead of the election.

Lawal said in an interview with Punch, published on Sunday, August 2, 2020, that Tinubu deserves a chance to run.

He said, "Except we want to bring the wrath of God on our heads, because of his role in building the party, equity and a sense of justice demand that he be given a chance in a free and fair system and let his luck prevail.

"Nobody with a clear conscience in the APC will deny Tinubu the opportunity to contest the Presidency.

"Nobody within the party has the moral right to even put a stumbling block on his path.

"The party must create an environment that is free and fair for anybody who wants to contest, including Bola Tinubu."

Tinubu's ambition to succeed Buhari (left) as Nigeria's president in 2023 is an open secret [Presidency]
Tinubu's ambition to succeed Buhari (left) as Nigeria's president in 2023 is an open secret [Presidency]

Lawal called on Buhari, who sacked him as SGF over corruption allegations, to support a rotation of the presidency back to the southern region.

He noted that the north has had a lot of leadership stints at the top of government without much to show for it.

"A just and equitable way of doing things is to agree, as gentlemen, that since the north has had its president for the second tenure, the opportunity should be given to the south to produce the next president," he said.

The discussion about rotating the presidency between both regions, an unwritten agreement called zoning, has gained national prominence over the past few days after President Buhari's nephew, Mamman Daura, said it's not beneficial to the country.

"It is better for this country to be one. It should be for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere," he said.

Daura's comment was not favourably received by southern politicians who alleged that it's a ploy to ensure Buhari's successor is another northerner.

President Buhari distanced himself from the comment days later, noting that Daura can make such a comment in his personal capacity without it being a reflection of his own opinion on the subject.