Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, a founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum and elder statesman, has said that no Southern candidate can win the 2023 Presidency without the support of the North.
The 96-year-old elder statesman made this known in an interview with our correspondent on Friday.
He also revealed that he would support the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s presidential bid in 2023.
Tinubu had on Wednesday visited the elder statesman at his Abuja residence.
Though Tinubu has yet to declare his intention to contest any office in 2023, there have been reports and veiled indications that he might be interested in the exalted seat.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had in October inaugurated the South-West Agenda 2023, a political movement mobilising support for Tinubu to contest the 2023 presidential election.
Tinubu, who celebrated his 69th birthday in March 2021 and command an arguably large following of political loyalists, has been reported to nurse presidential ambition in 2023, even as political debates get intense for a Southern President after the eight-year regime of the incumbent, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who is from Katsina State, North-West Nigeria.
Speaking with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, 96-year-old Yakasai said he had earmarked two politicians to support for Presidency in 2023.
He, however, said he has no intention to join politics but he has the constitutional right to back any candidate of his choice.
Asked whether he planned to join the ruling party after Tinubu’s visit, Yakassai said, “I don’t want to join any (political) party but I can support a candidate of my choice. I have said it way back in 1951 that I will not be a party member but I will support a candidate of my choice.”
On the APC leader’s visit, the elder statesman said, “He (Tinubu) just came to visit me but actually I have two of them (presidential aspirants) that I have earmarked right from the beginning and I made a vow that any one of them who came to ask for my support first is the person I would support. Tinubu is the first person.”
When asked whether Tinubu told him he would be contesting for President in 2021, Yakasai said, “He (Tinubu) did and he asked for my support.”
Yakasai, however, said he didn’t disclose to Tinubu, during the visit, that he would support his ambition.
He also said that interested aspirants must first scale the hurdles of primary elections in their various political parties “then we will begin to compare them.”
On the choice of running mate for any Southern presidential candidate in 2023, Yakasai said, “Anybody from the South would need a Northerner to complete the ticket and anybody from the North would need a Southerner to complete the ticket otherwise you can’t win. Nobody can win an election in Nigeria without combining the two – the North, and the South.”