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The Deji of Akure, His Royal Majesty, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, yesterday, called for the ending of geographical zoning in the determination of who should lead Nigeria as President and Commander-in-Chief.

HRM Aladelusi made the call while receiving in his palace Professor Kingsley Moghalu, aspirant of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) in the 2019 presidential election, who was at the palace to pay a courtesy visit on the Deji.

In an internal arrangement within then-ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the presidency was to rotate between the northern and southern parts of the country, presumably every eight years.

However the extra-constitutional arrangement, which presumed a one-party dominance of the presidency, collapsed in 2011 when then-President Goodluck Jonathan contested and won the presidential election after succeeding President Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in office three years into his tenure.

Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, running as an opposition candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), subsequently defeated President Jonathan in the 2015 election. Some loyalists of President Buhari have predicated his bid for re-election in 2019 on the notion that he should serve another term of four years to make the eight years ostensibly for the north, beginning May 2015.

In his unreserved call for merit as the overarching qualifying criterion for deciding who should lead the country, the Deji said: “If President Buhari’s son is qualified, he should be able to run for the office”, he contextualized this in the example of the United States, where George W. Bush became president eight years after his father, George H. W. Bush, left office as President.

In responding, Moghalu said the advanced countries of the world elect their leaders mainly on the merits of their policies and qualifications. He said choosing leaders on the basis of their capacity, competence and character, as opposed to their ethnicity, is critical for any country to make progress, and that this principle applies to Nigeria.

“Zoning has failed. After 19 years of zoning, the country is divided, the economy remains weak and more Nigerians are trapped below the poverty line,” he said.

Moghalu said he is running for President in 2019, based on his education, leadership experience gained over 17 years in the United Nations (during which period he rose from the entry level to the highest career rank, helping to rebuild broken nations, including Croatia, Cambodia and Rwanda), knowledge of economic management as a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and his vision to lead Nigeria into the 21st Century with great ideas and resolve.

He further echoed the Deji’s view of “zoning” by asserting that the framework is not in the Nigerian constitution.

“I am running for president, not as an Igbo candidate, not as a Yoruba candidate, and not as a candidate of the north. I am running as a well-qualified Nigerian”, he said.

The erudite professor, who until recently taught International Business and Public Policy at the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA, said his vision for Nigeria was based on a tripod: first, to heal our country and build the nation; second, to wage a decisive war against poverty and unemployment; and, third, to restore Nigeria’s standing in the world.

Moghalu paid the courtesy visit ahead of holding a town hall meeting later in the day with his teeming supporters and admirers in Ondo State.

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