Ahead of the 2023 presidential election scheduled for February next year, the governorship candidate on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Delta State, Olorogun Barr. Kenneth Gbagi, FNIM, has shed more light on the reason why he is championing the course for southern Nigeria, to produce the next president of the country.
According to Gbagi, who was conferred the Officer of the Order of the Niger, (OON) recently by president Muhammadu Buhari, his insistence on the presidential candidate of SDP, Prince Adewole Adebayo, is anchored on the Southern Nigeria leaders, particularly the governors, headed by the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, which comprised of both PDP and APC governors, who met in Asaba, Enugu and Lagos, respectively, where they insisted that the next president of Nigeria, come 2023, must emerge from Southern Nigeria.
He made the clarification on Saturday October 15th 2022, during the Arewa Joint Committee interactive session with presidential candidates in Kaduna state.
Gbagi, the largest private investor in Delta State, said he would not support the north to north arrangement in which the PDP, chose to select a Northern presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, even when there was a gentleman agreement that power should oscillate between Southern and Northern parts of Nigeria.
The renowned Criminologist however, said that Adebayo, has a pedigree going for him such as his detribalized nature, non-religious extremism, performance in leadership and in the business clout which made him foster a coalition of political parties across nation divides that formed the SDP, a platform MKO Abiola, won the freest and fairest election in the country.
He said he was not moved by emotions or religious sentiments and does not need political office to make a success; hence he is bold to speak the truth despite who is offended.
Gbagi, former minister of State for education, stated that when the Southern Governors met and adopted the position of producing a southern as the next president, they were not particular that such a President must emerge from either the SDP, PDP or from the APC; must be a Christian or a Muslim, stressing that the southern governors took the decision in the interest of Nigeria.
He therefore urged all Southern Governors and their northern counterparts to abide by the decision they took and support Adebayo who is from the Southern part of Nigeria so that they can be men of their words.
His words: “I have this to say to the Arewa and northern Nigeria. I am from Delta State and I was privileged to be a minister in Nigeria.
“It will interest you to note that I brought about the 13 Universities that were created in my time as a minister of education. Looking at that very seriously, it was clear to me at a time that northern Nigeria needed nine universities to meet up with the shortfall of universities that were in Nigeria.
“At that time, the southern part of Nigeria needed only four universities. We ran the country very closely with the interest of growth and development of the country without looking at our locality and where we have come from.
“What I have to say here today, is that in my considered opinion, I believe that Nigeria, should be examined where we start. When the Endsars came some less than a year and a half ago, they did not recognize north, south, west or east, it was a catastrophy.
“We had an agreement. We are planning to fail and to fall. All of us in that side of the divide, we have seen it all. We should allow our children to see what we have seen. If we have to agree, it is only two political parties in the country today, that should run election for 2023.
“I was a founding father of the PDP. It will interest you to know that I cut my teeth in the 1999 election when in 1998, we brought PDP to be. We agreed at a time. One of the issues that have destroyed our common relationship and brotherhood of living together, is serious deceit.
“If we were all to agree as a country that what we need is, integrity and character, Nigeria would have moved on and all these issues we have, we not happen. We agreed on one term north and one term south.
“We all have families whether been north or been south. The dishonesty in this relationship, is that north is finishing now, it is the turn of the South. It will not matter whether Adewole is a member of my party or Obi is a member of another party. These are the only two presidential candidates that are from the south.
“If you are to be honest to yourself, how are you going to stop the issue of Boko Haram, insecurity, education and health? We just have to go back to the drawing board where we lived together as a people.
“That agreement which of course is sacrosanct, is one north, one south irrespective of the party, north is finishing now. South will have to do its turn. It will come back to north and in that way, the best material among will emerge”.
Gbagi, who picked holes in the remarks of Atiku that the Northerners do not need any Yoruba or Igbo candidate as president of the country, said it was unacceptable for the north to have it back-to-back.
The PDP presidential candidate said: “What the average Northerner needs is somebody who’s from the north and also understands that part of the country and has been able to build bridges across the country.
“This is what the Northerner needs, it doesn’t need a Yoruba or Igbo candidate, I stand before you as a Pan-Nigerian of northern origin.”
But Gbagi, a nationalist, in hma swift reaction said: “We will not agree that we finished from the north, we go back to the north and the north again. What you are telling me indirectly is that my grandchildren will never be president in Nigeria. A country that is owned and ruled by all of us, the resources is shared commonly by all of us, we must agree the way we want to go.
“Haven reached that arrangement that one north, one south, I think the party that matches that arrangement is the Social Democratic Party which all of us here whether our fathers, mothers, brothers and uncles were all SDP members.
“SDP is the only party in Nigeria, that held a freest and fairest election and won by Abiola. We are asking Nigerians to give us the opportunity as SDP members to produce the next president”, he noted.