• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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2023 and clamour for rotational presidency

2023 and clamour for rotational presidency

As the 2023 general election is fast approaching; the clamour for a rotational presidency is gaining momentum across the political divide.

Though the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have been preparing to hold their conventions before the end of the year where both parties will reveal where its presidential candidate will come from, both parties have kept mute on which zone its candidate will emerge from.

Already, there has been a rotation of the presidency between the South and the North since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999. Though not constitutionally backed by any law, the political elite say the arrangement remains the best for the country’s socio-cultural and religious diversity. They argued further that zoning is not a right, but a privilege unless enshrined in the constitution of the party.

As expected, some stakeholders have kicked against zoning on the ground that whoever rules the country should be competent and not because such an individual is from a particular ethnic group, while others are of the strong view that zoning is a political instrument for fostering oneness in a diverse nation like Nigeria. This school of thought pointed out that in a plural country like Nigeria; there is nothing wrong with power rotation.

In order not to heat up the political space, some Northern governors have called for a rotational presidency so that other regions will have a sense of belonging.

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One of such governors is Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, who said amidst the increasing demand that the South should be given the presidential slot. He explained that as a beneficiary of rotation in the emerging governor of Nasarawa, the best person from the zone should emerge as the nation’s president.

His words: “I believe in the rotational presidency in Nigeria, I strongly believe in that. This is my view; it is not the view of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors.”

On his part, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has said no northerner should contest for the presidency in 2023. He expressed his personal opinion on what has become a divisive subject, dismissing insinuations that he was interested in the race.

El-Rufai said: “In Nigerian politics, there is a system of rotation, in which everyone agrees that if the north rules for eight years, the south will rule for eight years.

“That is why I came out and said that after President Buhari has been in office for eight years, no northerner should run for office. Let the Southerners also have eight years. If you look at how I am, I don’t take anyone to work with me for the zone he came from.

“The eligibility I look at is if who is entrusted to the public will hold it properly. It has been said that I have loved the presidency since I was a minister in the FCT. This is nonsense. I do not want the Nigerian presidency. God gives power, whether you like it or not, if he wants it, He will give it to you, but I have never sought the presidency of Nigeria, no one can say I have ever sought it.”

But conversely, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has dismissed calls for a rotational presidency on the ground that it has outlived its usefulness. Bello said that what should be the determining factor in the selection of the next President in 2023 election should be competence and not where the person comes from. He also said that he would revive and actualise the1993 hope that was dashed.

Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to brief him on the security situation in Kogi State at the Presidential Villa sometime ago, Bello said that he will soon respond to the plethora of calls by Nigerians of different walks of life for him to contest the 2023 presidential election. He said he may heed the clamour from Nigerians, stressing that competence and capacity should be the criteria for electing the next president and not his ethnicity or region.

According to him, “For once, let’s get Nigeria fixed. We have practised a seemingly rotational presidency since 1999 to date, let us evaluate our successes or achievements from this seeming rotational presidency between then and now.

“Why don’t we simply go for the best after all, we copy this democracy from America and some of the developed world, how many of these countries are practising rotational presidency? You see, we are where we are today not because we are practising rotational presidency. If you want to go by that rotational presidency, then do perfect zoning. Go by perfect rotation.”

Speaking further, Bello said, “And if you go by rotation and whichever way you come from, I don’t think you should exclude where I come from. That’s number one.

“Number two, let us get a credible, sincere, patriotic, Nigerian to fix it. If you are flying an aircraft, you don’t ask who is the pilot? If you take the operation in a hospital, you wouldn’t ask which doctor is this, is he from your zone, your tribe, your religion, all you want is the best pilot to fly you safely to your destination. All you want is the best doctor to handle you and deliver you safely from the operation.

“I think Nigeria is at that point now of seeking the best from anywhere in this country, irrespective of where he comes from. Thereafter, you balance the remaining position to reflect equity, fairness and justice. That is my position.”

The clamour for a rotational presidency was at the backdrop that out of three zones that make up the Southern region, only the South-East has not produced the president. South-South produced former President Goodluck Jonathan, who ruled for five years; while South-West produced Olusegun Obasanjo from Ogun State, who ruled for eight years. But the South-East comprising Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states are fiercely agitating for zoning of the presidential power in 2023.

The big question now begging for answer is: Will both parties, in the interest of national cohesion, zone the presidential slot come 2023 to the South-East?

Uche Secondus, the national chairman of the PDP, has maintained that the party has not yet decided on zoning, stressing that the party’s ticket was open to all Nigerians.

He said: “We must study our last outing before looking ahead. We can’t be talking of zoning when we have not appraised how we fared in the last election.

“By the time the appraisal committee finishes, we will take decisions and the decision is not for the National Working Committee (NWC), but for the entirety of our party. And I believe that whoever is interested in 2023, maybe including the former President, the chances are there because the PDP is a party of all.”

Is this a waiting game for the PDP to re-strategise and put its house in order before deciding on its next line of action? Time will surely tell.