The governors issued a statement following a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday.
As a matter of national interest, they requested the northern presidential hopefuls to step out.
State governor Abubakar Badaru has withdrawn from the contest “to contribute to this patriotic mission,” according to the announcement.
Northern Nigerian politicians and government officials gathered today to discuss the current situation and support the APC’s progressive leadership in the midst of our country’s issues,” reads the statement.
“During our discussions, we welcomed President Muhammadu Buhari’s invitation to governors and other stakeholders to contribute to the emergence of a strong presidential candidate for the APC.
“After careful deliberation, we wish to state our firm conviction that after eight years in office of President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections should be one of our teeming members from the southern states of Nigeria.
“It is a question of honour for the APC, an obligation that is not in any way affected by the decisions taken by another political party.
“We affirm that upholding this principle is in the interest of building a stronger, more united and more progressive country.
“We therefore wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC’s presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states.
“We appeal to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries.
“The APC has a duty to ensure that the 2023 elections offer a nation-building moment, reaffirming that a democratic pathway to power exists for all who value cooperation and build national platforms.
“This moment calls for the most sober and inclusive approach to selecting our party’s candidate, and we call on all APC leaders to fulfil their responsibility in this regard.”
Aminu Bello Masari, the governor of Katsina state; Abubakar Sani Bello, the governor of Niger; Abdullahi Sule, the governor of Nasarawa; Babagana Zulum, the governor of Borno; and Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna, all signed the declaration.
Gombe’s other governors include Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya and Zamfara’s Bello Matawalle, Plateau’s Simon Lalong and Kano’s Abdullahi Ganduje, as well as Kebbi’s Abubakar Atiku Bagudu as governor.