‘Zoning Is Unconstitutional,’ Northern Governors Oppose Power Shift To South


Governors of the 19 states in the North have opposed the call by their southern counterparts that the Presidency should be zoned to the South in 2023.

This formed part of the resolutions reached on Monday when the governors held an emergency meeting with traditional rulers in the region at the Government House in Kaduna State.

Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, read out the communique containing the resolutions on behalf of his colleagues.

According to the governors, zoning the office of the President as being agitated by southern governors is against the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Governors of the northern states meet with traditional rulers in the region in Kaduna State on September 27, 2021.


They stated that any president elected must meet the constitutional requirements which include scoring the majority votes, and polling at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in two-thirds of the 36 states of the Federation.

Governor Lalong noted that although some northern governors had endorsed power shift to the South, the regional governors collectively condemned such calls.

He also briefed reporters on the position of the governors regarding the lingering dispute between the Federal Government and states over the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The northern governors, Lalong said, are aware that the case is before the court, and it will amount to sub-judice to take a decision on the matter.

Some of the traditional leaders at the meeting held in Kaduna State on September 27, 2021.


He, however, explained that VAT should not be mistaken by state governments as a sales tax, saying allowing every state to enact its VAT law would result in multiple taxations, increases in prices of goods and services, as well as a collapse in inter-state trade.

On the security of the region, the northern governors commended the ongoing military onslaught against bandits and insurgents in parts of the North.

Despite the progress made, they decried the alleged high level of conspiracies perpetrated by some judicial officers in releasing and granting bail to arrested criminals.

Southern Governors Back VAT Collection By States, Zoning Of 2023 Presidency To South

Governors from the southern region and their representatives pose for a photograph at the end of the meeting in Enugu State on September 16, 2021.


Governors from the southern region of Nigeria have declared their support for the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by state governments, in place of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

They made the declaration on Thursday at a meeting of the governors held at the Government House in Enugu State.

Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, made the position of the governors known in a communique issued at the end of the meeting.

According to him, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.

The governors reaffirmed their commitment to fiscal federalism and stressed the need for the southern states to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution, through the ongoing constitutional amendment.

To achieve this, they advised the states to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly, as well as their representatives in the National Assembly.

Ahead of the general elections in 2023, the governors insisted that the next Nigerian leader must come from the South.

They commended the rate at which members were enacting the law prohibiting the open grazing of cattle in line with the uniform template and called on others yet to do so to follow suit.

Similarly, the governors lauded the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for its handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

At the meeting, they called for the total functioning of the agreed regional security outfits to ensure the security of lives and properties of the people of the region.

Read the communique issued at the end of the meeting below:


The Nigerian Southern Governors Forum at its meeting of today, Thursday, 16tm September 2021 held in the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:

Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti-Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the States that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.

Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits, which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.

Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at Asaba, Delta State and emphasised the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.

Following from paragraph 3 above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the States.

Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.

Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigerian line with politics of equity, justice, and fairness.

The Forum thanked the host Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November 2021.

Arakunrin Oluwarotimi O. Akeredolu, SAN

Governor, Ondo State and Chairman, Southern Governors’ Forum

Akeredolu Distances Self From 2023 Presidency

A file photo of Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu


Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has distanced himself from activities suggesting that he will contest the presidential election in 2023.

The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, in a statement on Wednesday said his principal had nothing to do with the pseudo campaigners.

“Undoubtedly, the development is no less a needless distraction,” Olatunde said in the statement. “Even though Mr Governor’s constitutional right, qualification, and competencies are not in doubt, this particular campaign does not represent in any manner, his immediate political disposition.

He stated this in reaction to campaign posters and fliers that surfaced recently on social media, asking the governor to contest the next presidential election.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records 11 COVID-19 Deaths, 582 New Cases

One of the posters had depicted a joint ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Governor Akeredolu and Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, who is also the Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.

“For emphasis, Governor Akeredolu who has just been re-elected wishes to be left to focus on deepening good governance in Ondo State,” Olatunde said.

“He, therefore, advises all involved to be guided just as he holds the firm view that only God can put men in position.”

Moghalu Declares Interest In 2023 Presidency, Unveils SWAG Agenda

A file photo of Professor Kingsley Moghalu.


A former presidential candidate, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, has announced his intention to vie for the top seat in the land in the forthcoming general elections.

Moghalu, declared his interest to join the 2023 presidential race in a statement on Tuesday, about a year and nine months to the scheduled date of the poll.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had fixed February 18, 2023, to conduct the elections.

READ ALSO: How We Repelled Attacks On Two Stations In Imo – Police

While he contested the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Moghalu said he would announce the political party he would join within the next few months.

He also unveiled his SWAG Agenda for a 21st century Nigeria and sought the support of those who were tired of the present situation in the country.

Moghalu, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), promised that if elected, he would run a government with a dream team of highly competent Nigerians from all parts of the country.

Read the full statement below:


What is the value of a Nigerian life?

We live daily today under the shadow of terrorists. Our economy is collapsing. Many families cannot afford the price of food. Millions of young men and women have no jobs and have no hope.

Our university students know more about ASUU strikes and long school closures than any skills they need to be competitive in the world of the 21st century.

Only the rich and powerful can access quality healthcare in our country or abroad as medical tourists, because our health system, like most other systems, is broken.

I lost my father, Isaac Moghalu, in December 1998 because he had a stroke, but the doctors were on strike, and therefore we could not get him adequate healthcare on time.

Soon after we found a private clinic and moved him there, he went into a coma and passed on shortly afterward. I was heartbroken. Today, 23 years later, not much has changed. Like many, I have suffered the effects of bad governance in our country.

With life in it increasingly nasty, brutish, and short, the very idea of Nigeria is now almost meaningless to many Nigerians. Cries for self-determination fill the air in response to fundamental injustice.

Meanwhile, politics in Nigeria does not bring change, and its benefits go to only one group – the political elite. Their message is loud and clear: we the people —you and I – DO NOT matter.

The bodies of Nigerians are buried in cold corners of foreign cemeteries, strewn across the Sahara desert, and float in the Mediterranean Sea, as a consequence of a non-existent leadership. Our country can no longer speak confidently in the gathering of nations.

Life as ordained by our Creator, that we may experience His Goodness in this land of the living, has eluded us as a people.

Only the emergence of visionary, competent and inclusive national leadership, on the one hand, and a fundamental restructuring of Nigeria based on a new people’s constitution, on the other, can arrest Nigeria’s ongoing disorderly and violent degeneration into a completely failed state. We were not born to be miserable and to die miserably. Enough is Enough!

It is now more than ever necessary that we elect in 2023 a leader who is truly committed and has the capacity to initiate the constitutional restructuring of Nigeria. A leader who is competent to secure our lives and property, successfully manage our diversity, save our economy, and restore our international respect.

For the sake of the youth of our country — including my four children — whose future is being drowned in reckless foreign borrowing, and for the sake of all Nigerians suffering and seeking a clear alternative to the status quo, I intend — with all humility — to present myself — again — as a candidate for the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2023 general elections.

If elected, I will run a government with a dream team of highly competent Nigerians from all parts of our country. Along with strengthened, independent institutions, we will deliver results on a four-point agenda in four years (4 by 4):

— Security for all Nigerians and Nigeria’s territory;

— War against poverty: skills, jobs for our youth, and an innovation economy;

— Accelerated education and healthcare reform;

— Good governance: inclusive, transparent, effective, and accountable.

This is my SWAG Agenda for a 21st century Nigeria. I seek the support of all compatriots — of everyone who is tired of our present national situation. We also need the energy and support of our youth, the middle class, entrepreneurs, and our compatriots in the diaspora.

These important segments of our population have in the past been reluctant to engage actively in our electoral process, ostensibly because of the flaws in that process.

The National Assembly must now pass into law, without further delay, necessary electoral reforms that will make democracy yield real dividends for Nigerians. Our votes must count, and be counted transparently. The amendments should include a provision for Diaspora Nigerians to be able to register and vote in all elections in Nigeria from abroad.

I am only one face of a movement. A movement of silent and suffering Nigerians fed up with the insecurity, poverty, and a seemingly hopeless future for our country. A movement that has decided that Enough is Enough.

That movement, soon to be present in our numbers in every voting ward in Nigeria, will announce within the next few months the political party we will join en masse and seek its platform for the presidential, legislative, and gubernatorial roles in governance.

We can do this. We can change Nigeria.

Together, let us walk this road to a Nigeria that, within 30 years of successive administrations, will have achieved the kind of economic and technological advancement attained by countries such as Israel, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates within similar timeframes.

It is possible. We only need to participate actively in the democratic process and vote right when the time comes.

We the Nigerian people matter. We the Nigerian people deserve better. Let’s do this. Because we can and we must.


Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, Ph.D. OON FCIB

Ifekaego Nnewi

June 1, 2021

2023 Presidency Should Be Zoned To Southern Nigeria, Says Governor Masari

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on March 18, 2021.


Ahead of the 2023 general elections in the country, Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, says Southern Nigeria should produce the next President.

President Muhammadu Buhari who contested under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) swept to power in 2015 after defeating ex-President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Buhari was also re-elected in 2019 after beating PDP’s Atiku Abubakar and will complete his constitutionally mandated tenure in 2023.

But Masari who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today which aired on Thursday said a non-northerner should succeed President Buhari in 2023.

“If you ask me as a person Aminu, I think we should move the presidency to the southern part of the country,” he said when asked which zone should have the 2023 presidency.

READ ALSO: Banditry: ‘What Does Sheikh Gumi Know?’ Governor Masari Challenges Cleric’s Intervention

Although he did not specify which particular geographical region of the south should produce the next Presidency, he, however, added, “South is South.”

The governor is confident that the ruling APC will fare well after President Buhari’s tenure despite the challenges the country currently faces.

To Masari, the APC came at a time when the economy was in a comatose situation, hence the introduction of social programmes link the TraderMoni, AnchorBorrower, School feeding among several others.

He stated that no political party has brought social interventions for the betterment of the masses in Nigeria’s history like the APC.

When asked if the APC was the nation’s saviour, the governor replied saying: “Of course, by all means. Let everybody come with a balance sheet of what they got yesterday and what we get today and compare notes.”

Speaking on banditry activities in the northwestern region, Governor Masari kicked against the idea of granting blanket amnesty to the bandits.

He insisted that the bandits needed moral and spiritual support to realise the evil perpetrated by killing people.

Rivers Govt Denies Responsibility As Wike’s Presidential Posters Flood Abuja

Governor Wike’s alleged Presidential Posters


Parts of Abuja have been flooded with campaign posters of Governor Nyesom Wike for the 2023 Presidency.

But on Monday the Rivers State Government denied responsibility for the act.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Wike has not informed anyone that he is interested in the Presidency of this country,” the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said in a statement.

READ ALSO: [2023 Presidency] I Am Focused On Kogi Development, Says Yahaya Bello

Mr Nsirim said the publication is the handiwork of mischief makers who are threatened by the governor’s rising political profile and are determined to distract his visionary leadership and heat up the polity.

The statement added that Wike is currently preoccupied with his mission to make Rivers State a better place while urging the public to discountenance the misinformation.


Read Full Statement Below:


The attention of Governor Nyesom Wike has been drawn to campaign posters bearing his name which flooded some major streets of Abuja today.

For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Wike has not informed anyone that he is interested in the Presidency of this country.

This is certainly the handiwork of mischief makers who are threatened by the Governor’s rising political profile.

We are amused that political detractors will stop at nothing to see how they can distract Governor Wike’s visionary leadership.

For the umpteenth time, we wish to restate that Governor Wike is presently preoccupied with his mission to make Rivers State a better place and Destination of Choice.

All the puerile antics of political jobbers aimed at heating up the polity will surely fail.

Members of the public are therefore advised to discountenance the misinformation that is currently circulating in Abuja.

Paulinus Nsirim
Commissioner for Information and Communications
January 25, 2021

2023 Presidency: I Am Focused On Kogi Development, Says Yahaya Bello

Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello addressed the press on November 17, 2020.
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello addressed the press on November 17, 2020.


Governor Yahaya Bello has reacted to calls for him to contest in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election noting that he is focused on delivering his mandate of developing Kogi State.

The governor said his administration’s ability to curb insecurity in Kogi State and massive youth empowerment has been attracting support leading to the calls for him to join the 2023 presidential race, a call he does not want to be distracted with.

READ ALSO: Those Who Doubt FG’s Resolve To Protect Nigerians Are Mischievous – Garba Shehu

Bello said this on Monday through his Chief Press Secretary, Nnogwu Sani Mohammed at the ongoing security and economic summit of the Northcentral Governors Forum in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

“Nigerians across all divide are calling on the Governor to run for the presidency in 2023 but His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello is totally focused and committed to delivering the mandate given to him by the people of Kogi State to run for the second term.

“By January 27, 2021, he will be one year in office, that is for the second term, so he has a lot to do and he has a lot of time to spend with the people of Kogi State to deliver the dividends of democracy to them,” Mohammed said.

He, therefore, called for support to deliver his second term mandate of rebuilding Kogi State.

Bello said the issue of the 2023 presidency should not be put on the front burner and heat the polity and assured that he is focused on his mandate of improved security, economy, and youth employment.

2023 Presidency: ‘It Is Too Early,’ Jonathan Reacts To Rumoured Ambition

Former President Goodluck Jonathan addressing reporters in Abuja on December 4, 2020.


Former President Goodluck Jonathan seems to be undecided yet about returning to office in 2023 when President Muhammadu Buhari completes his second term.

Speculations that the former president may take over power from President Buhari, who succeeded him in 2015, may not end soon as Dr Jonathan could not give a definite position on his rumoured ambition.

He had a brief session with reporters on Friday after attending an event organised by the Commonwealth Community Choir in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

When asked if he would be joining the presidential race in the 2023 general elections, Dr Jonathan said, “It is too early to talk about that.”

He also spoke about the issue of insecurity in the country and called for support for the Federal Government and the security agencies to overcome the challenges.

The former president noted that Nigeria was not the only country affected by insecurity, adding that he had his challenges to deal with while in office.

He also spoke about the political crisis in Mali, saying the situation has been brought under control following the intervention of ECOWAS.


Dr Jonathan contested the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but lost and conceded defeat to President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

It was the first time an incumbent president would lose re-election and conceded defeat in the history of Nigeria.

This earned him accolades within and outside the country, leading to his emergence as ECOWAS special envoy.

He first assumed the office of the President of Nigeria between 2010 to 2011, succeeding former President Musa Yar’Adua’s who died May 5, 2010.

Upon completing the term, Dr Jonathan ran for President on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2011 and won, extending his stay in office by another four years.

He had served as the Bayelsa State Governor between 2005 and 2007, and later Vice President from 2007 to 2010.

2023 Presidency: My Future Is In God’s Hands – Umahi

I Wish Buhari To Recontest Presidency, Says PDP’s Umahi
File photo of Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi


Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has reacted to his rumoured 2023 presidential ambition saying his future is in the hands of God.

The governor who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday said contrary to speculations that he was nursing the ambition of succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, he planned to quit politics by then.

“My future is in the hands of God. I have told God I want to leave politics in 2023 and because my life is owned by him, I need his permission on anything that is called future this,” Umahi said.

“This is my own decision but God’s decision takes precedence over my own decision,” the governor explained.

When asked for the difference in political ideology between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the governor believes it is too early to determine that.

READ ALSO: APC Defection: My Friend, Umahi Wants To Be President – Wike

The governor who described himself as a brand new baby in the party said he needs to learn how to walk and run before determining the political-ideological differences between the two parties.

“I have not studied the manifesto of the APC. I am just a brand new child, I should be pampered very well I this APC.

“I will have to learn how to walk, run before I can answer the question about the ideologies of the APC,” he added.

Umahi’s remarks come three days after Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, slammed him for leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Wike who spoke in Port Harcourt on November 17 said Governor Umahi left the PDP because he wants to be the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023 and not injustice meted on the South East by the opposition party, as claimed.

Governor Wike stated that committed members of the PDP were not surprised that the Ebonyi governor formally defected to the APC on Tuesday, which he had been fraternising with for a while.

2023 Presidency: Candidacy Cannot Emerge On Tribal Basis, Says Uzodinma

Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, briefing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on September 1, 2020.


Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, believes the emergence of the candidates for the presidential election in 2023 should not be on a tribal basis.

He stated this on Tuesday while briefing State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

“We are practicing partisan democracy, not tribal democracy. So, the emergence of presidential candidates will come on a party-by-party basis, not tribe-by-tribe basis,” the governor said.

He made the comments against the backdrop of clamours by the people of the South-East that the 2023 presidency should be zones to the region.

READ ALSO: Kalu Visits IBB, Abdulsalami, Faults Zoning Of 2023 Presidency

Some of them claimed that the region has been marginalised over the years in terms of development, adding that it has yet to produce a civilian leader since late Nnamdi Azikiwe who was President between 1963 and 1966.


Lending his voice to the discussion on zoning the next presidency to the South East, Governor Uzodinma believes that would only be determined by the leadership of various political parties.

According to him, the right thing to do is not to cause tension with the calls for zoning of the office of the president but to allow the internal mechanisms of the political groups make the best decision.

“If there are some other internal factors that will form part of the considerations for parties taking decisions, of course, that will be entirely the job of the leadership of those political parties and I think that is the right thing to do,” the governor said.

His position is in agreement with the opinion of a former governor of Abia State and Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzo Kalu, who visited former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, and former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, in Niger State.

Senator Kalu was criticised for describing the office of the president as an open basket for intending contestants and saying the idea of zoning was never constitutional.

Kalu Visits IBB, Abdulsalami, Faults Zoning Of 2023 Presidency

Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu, visits former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), at his residence in Minna, the Niger State capital on August 31, 2020.


The Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Kalu, has faulted the zoning of the presidency ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He described the office as an open basket for intending contestants, stressing that the idea of zoning was never constitutional nor contained in the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Senator Kalu made the remarks on Monday in Minna, the Niger State capital where he met with former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), and former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), at their residences.

“Zoning is a party issue, every party has the right to say where they want a position to come from but in APC, there is no issue of zoning. Anybody can contest for the presidency,” he told reporters.

The former governor of Abia State added, “It has not been zoned to any region and zoning is not in the constitution of APC and as long as it is not a constitutional matter of APC, the Presidency is an open basket which anybody can fight for.”

Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu, at the residence of former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), in Minna, the Niger State capital on August 31, 2020.


On the issue of insecurity in the country, Senator Kalu believes there is sabotage in the system which must be urgently addressed by the authorities.

He, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his efforts on security and gave an assurance that the Senate would continue to push for efficiency among the security organs in the country.

The lawmaker said, “Security is a big challenge to everybody and the Senate is going to address this issue.

“Insecurity has defied any solution. I see a lot of sabotage in this issue of insecurity and I can assure you that the Senate will address the issue of sabotage.”

“The President must be very angry about what is going on; he is a known army general, top-class General and Commander in Chief. He is not happy at all and I am sure he is working to address it,” Senator Kalu stated.

He explained that his visit to the elder statesmen whom he described as his bosses was to rejoice with the former military president who turned 79 recently and to welcome the former head of state back from his medical trip.

While no journalist was allowed into General Babangida’s residence, reporters were allowed to take some footages at General Abdulsalami’s house before they were asked to leave.

2023 Presidency: Tinubu Has All It Takes To Lead This Country – Lagos APC


The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos has said that if the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, declares to run for the 2023 presidential election, it will not be out of place owing to his political record.

Disclosing this at a briefing in Lagos on Monday, the party’s state secretary, Lanre Ogunyemi, said Tinubu has all it takes to lead the country and has every fundamental right as a Nigerian to become the next president.

READ ALSO: Bayelsa Election: Supreme Court To Hear APC’s Request On Wednesday

“Tinubu has all it takes to lead this country and he has every fundamental right as a Nigerian to aspire; it is now left for Nigerians to accept or not, it is now left for the party to decide who flags their ship as a presidential candidate come 2023.

“Whether he has briefed us or expressed any body language, whether people are against it or not, we are sure he has everything to lead this nation,” he stated.

He added that the APC national leader has contributed to modern Nigeria and is regarded as the Moses of this generation.

“This is a man who has contributed tremendously to what we call modern Nigeria; he is a man whom we see as the Moses of our time that has a lot of resourcefulness.

“Whichever way it goes, let us decide if it goes to the South; let us decide whether it goes to the Southwest or Southeast and what we look at is merit; who can take us to the place that Nigeria ought to be.

“If we find that in Bola Tinubu, why not, he doesn’t have to brief us, let’s keep watching the body language and see what will manifest in 2023.

“We are standing absolutely on his mandate,” he maintained.