• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Rotational presidency as an imperative for 2023 presidential election

Aristocracy, mobocracy, gerontocracy, plutocracy, democracy, monarchy, and others are the many different types of government in our today’s world. However, among the lot, democracy or representative government is deemed and believed to be the best type of government.

And democracy originated in Athens, Greece, many centuries ago. But what is democracy? The definition given by one-time American president, Abraham Lincoln, has gained currency and public acceptance over the years. He defined democracy in this way: Democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people. Now, some countries of the world, which have not yet embraced democracy completely, are democratising so as not to become parish states.

Nigeria, which became a sovereign state in 1960, had alternated between military government and democracy until 1999, when the fourth republic came into existence. But there is no disputing the fact that the successive military regimes we had in Nigeria put the clock back in our dear country, causing Nigeria to get stuck in the morass of economic quagmire and technological backwardness.

Although the leaders of the successive military governments we had in Nigeria in the past said their military regimes were corrective governments, they contributed in no small measure in the weakening of our bonds of unity, entrenching corruption in Nigeria, the strangulation of our economy, bastardization of our educational system, and the violation of our fundamental human rights.

As to how the successive past military governments caused our economic, political, and technological woes, a few examples will suffice. Not only did Ibrahim Babangida allegedly entrenched corruption in Nigeria, he also caused the abridgement of our political evolution and growth through the cancellation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. And Sani Abacha, who possessed sanguinary proclivities and kleptomania, stole Nigeria blind and decimated the populations of the NADECO group and human rights activists by murdering their members.

Thankfully, the death of Sani Abacha, which gladdened the hearts of countless Nigerians, heralded the birth of this current political dispensation. Abacha’s successor, Abdusalaam Abubakar, conducted a general election. The return of democratic governance in 1999 after Nigeria had survived the political trouble caused by the cancellation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election marked the dawn of the fourth republic.

One characteristic feature of the fourth republic is that the principle of rotational presidency, though not captured in our constitution, has been operative in Nigeria since 1999. Then, the major political parties in Nigeria fielded presidential candidates, who hail from the southwest of Nigeria. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who became the executive president of Nigeria in 1999, was helped to power by northern political interests and other influential kingmakers.

Read also: 2023 election: Nigeria’s digital infrastructure faces biggest test

At that time, not a few Nigerians were amenable to a Yoruba man’s accession to the pinnacle of political power in Nigeria. Their lending support to Obasanjo’s political candidature was a placatory move to assuage the hurt feelings of the Yoruba people and right the wrongs in our political polity.

The coalescing of forces that helped Obasanjo to become our civilian president in 1999 heralded the dawn of the unwritten principle of power rotation in Nigeria. Rotation of power at the apex political level between the north and south has guaranteed the existence of political stability in Nigeria.

To say that the unwritten principle of rotational presidency is a child of necessity and moral imperative is to state an obvious and indisputable fact.

Nigeria could have dismembered were the Yoruba people not placated and compensated for the unlawful and unjust cancellation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. So Obasanjo, a Yoruba man, led Nigeria for eight years on the political platform of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP). During his reign, he made giant strides in the area of telecommunication. However, his botched third term gambit, which was designed to elongate his stay in office, became a blot on his escutcheon.

Obasanjo handed over political power to Umaru Musa Yar’adua, a northern Muslim, who died in power. The power vacuum created by his death could have caused another heavy political upheaval in Nigeria but for the doctrine of necessity proposed by Professor Dora Akunyili, which paved the way for the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathsn, as the successor of Musa Yar’adua in office. Jonathan hails from the Niger-Delta region, the goose that lays the golden eggs for us.

Jonathan completed the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor and ruled for one term. But his unpreparedness for Nigeria’s leadership challenges caused his lacklustre and uninspiring performance as the national leader of Nigeria. His trademark tardiness, indecisiveness, and lack of political will to change Nigeria’s status quo ante marked and marred his leadership.

President Buhari, whose desire and hunger to become the president of Nigeria was insatiable, rode on the coattail of Jonathan’s maladministration to win the 2014 presidential slugfest. The merger of ANPP, ACN, and other political parties to form a political coalition called APC, on the platform on which he contested the presidential election helped his political cause, too. Soon, Buhari will complete his second and last term in office.

Now, owing to the violent happenings in Nigeria in the recent past, common sense dictates that the presidential seat be ceded to the southeast geopolitical zone, the homeland of the Igbo ethnic group. Nigeria, as currently constituted, sits on the three legs of the tripod namely, the Igbo, the Yoruba, and the Hausa/Fulani. The Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani people(s) had produced the president of Nigeria in this current political dispensation. Obasanjo, a Yoruba man; Musa Yar’adua, a northern Muslim of Hausa/Fulani stock; and Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani man, had taken turns to preside over the affairs of Nigeria in this new political dispensation.

Since the inception of the fourth republic, the political pendulum of rotational presidency has been swinging between the north and the south. But the southeast has not produced the president of Nigeria. In the interest of peace and unity, egalitarianism, and political equity, the presidential seat should be ceded to the southeast. But why should the Igbo people be supported in their quest to produce Nigeria’s next president?

The answer is not far-fetched. Since the end of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, the defeated Igbo people have been marginalised in our scheme of things, treated with utter contempt, viewed with suspicion, and regarded as second class citizens in Nigeria. The maltreatment of the Igbo people is one of the causes of the resurgence of pro-Biafra sentiments and rhetoric in our country. In the recent past, the southeast quaked with IPOB’s violent agitation for the creation of the independent country for the Igbo people. Until now, the entire southeast is shut down every Monday as a gesture of solidarity with the detained IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, by the Igbo people.

But if Nigerians other than the Igbo people should lend support to the Igbo people’s jostling to produce the president of Nigeria, it will cement our national unity, make for the political stability of Nigeria, and put an end to the IPOB’s endless agitation for the creation of the state of Biafra.

Each country in our today’s world reserve the right to evolve a variant of democratic culture, which is suitable for her, and which will guarantee her unity, political stability, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.