President Muhammadu Buhari’s influential nephew, Malam Mamman Daura, said yesterday that there is no need for zoning the presidential ticket to any part of the country.
He said Nigeria’s political space should be left open for the best candidate to emerge as president.
Regarded as the most powerful personality in Buhari’s administration, Daura in a teaser for an exclusive interview with the Hausa Service of the BBC, said the most qualified person from any part of the country should succeed his uncle.
Buhari’s second term will elapse by 2023; and nocturnal moves have begun in different parts of the country as to which part should produce the next president.
There were allegations that some elements from the North were perfecting plans to retain the presidency.
Our correspondents report that since the country returned to civil rule in 1999, power had been rotating between the North and the southern part of the country.
The quest by blocs in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to take over the control of the party ahead of 2023 had created serious uproar in the polity until President Buhari intervened.
Relative calm was achieved when the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party dissolved the National Working Committee (NWC) in June, 2020, paving way for the constitution of a national caretaker committee chaired by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.
President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that he was satisfied with the way the Mai Mala-led committee was bringing party members together.
Daura’s position on power shift
Daura said since Nigerians had tried the rotational presidency about thrice already, it would be better to go for the most qualified candidate in 2023, irrespective of whether he comes from the North or South.
“Rotation has been done once, twice and three times; it is important that this nation should be united as one, the most qualified, competent should be elected and not someone who comes from a particular zone,” he said.
There were allegations that Daura is the leader of the purported “cabal” that plays key role in decision making at the villa.
When asked about how he advises the President Buhari, he said, “Yes, I usually visit and offer advice. If he (Buhari) asks me, I offer advice but I don’t just go and tell him what to do; you don’t do that with the government.”
However, mixed reactions yesterday trail his position on the 2023 presidency.
We must stand firm on zoning – Afenifere
Spokesman for Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba sociocultural group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, in a chat with our correspondent said the South was not unmindful of the fact that the North would want to have a shot again in the presidency after Buhari.
According to him, the South envisages many candidates to indicate interest in the presidency in 2023 but the country must stand firm and respect the zoning agreement.
“They (Northern candidates) would come out definitely but it is now left for the country to say whether they want to accept the move or they should insist on the common understanding that power should rotate between north and south.
“I heard him (Mamman Daura) talking about competence or whatever. In 2023, he would understand if there is anything called competence. We are watching how things unfold,” he said.
Odumakin said he expected the South to forge a common front when the time comes to ensure that the presidency returned to the region in 2023.
Chief Supo Shonibare, another chieftain of Afenifere said rotational presidency could not be discarded without restructuring.
Gentleman agreement cannot be jettisoned – Niger Delta group
Also speaking, the Chairman of Niger Delta Right Advocate, Darlington Nwauju, said that the call for the cancellation of rotational presidency was myopic and of no relevance.
He said that rotational presidency and zoning formula were part of an unwritten agreement between the South and the North, saying that the gentleman agreement should be sustained.
He said that rotational presidency was akin to federal character principle and quota system, saying they were sine qua non for peaceful co-existence.
He recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo benefited from the agreement and wondered why such agreement should not be sustained.
“Rotational presidency had provided an opportunity for weaker region to have a shot at the presidency. When we are talking about rotational presidency, south and east should be given top priority. Those calling for its cancellation are myopic and of no consequence to me,” he said.
A chieftain of the APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe in a chat with Daily Trust said given the diverse nature of Nigeria, rotational presidency should be maintained.
He said going by the huge population of Nigeria and its size, there was the need to maintain the balance of power by allowing it “go south” in the 2023 presidential election.
Also, an advocate of rotational presidency, Dr. Wunmi Bewaji, said the statement by Daura was an invitation to anarchy, stressing that zoning was central to Nigeria’s democracy.
He said the statement by the president’s nephew at this time could heat up the polity unnecessarily, adding, “it is a most unfortunate statement, very disappointing.”
Rotational presidency party affair
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said yesterday the issue of rotational presidency is not a constitutional matter but only adopted by political parties for their own convenience.
The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, responding to Daura’s statement, said: “the Nigerian constitution does not make provision for rotational presidency; it is done at the convenience of political parties and not a constitutional practice. There is nowhere in the Nigerian constitution where there is provision for rotation.”
Yawe further said if political parties on their own decided to jettison rotational presidency, they have the right to do so.
Also, a Kano based political analyst, Dr Abbati Bako, said the rotational presidency in democratic practice was an out dated system.
“Democracy is a game of the majority and minority’s voice should be listened to for the fact that minority’s voice is one of the 57 key elements of democratic system.
“In both advanced and less advanced democracies, the issue of rotational presidency is contrary to the norms and rules of democratic principles; hence the issue of electing someone based on regional, religious or ethnic sentiments is not democracy. We can call that ‘democrazy,’” He said.
Peter Patrick, a former head of the department of Political Science, Kaduna State University (KASU said that those who felt rotation was still useful for the country should push for constitutional amendment for it to be incorporated.
“What Mamman Daura said is not against the constitution of the country. However, because of our peculiarity, rotation helps to calm nerves, especially the nerves of those that have been marginalised.
“Politicians capitalise on many things to drive sentiments to their advantage in Nigeria. There is the issue of religion, tribe and region. So, in order to have a balance, it would be proper if different groups are given opportunity to lead the country. This is because in every religion, tribe or region, there must be somebody who is competent to lead Nigeria.
“However, as a political scientist, I would not support something that is not constitutional. Therefore, those that strongly believe in rotation should use the National Assembly to amend the constitution of Nigeria and that of the APC. Perhaps, the presidency should be rotated among the six geo-political zones. This is because even when you leave it between North and South, there is still going to be issues. For example, in the North Hausa/Fulani, being the majority; would always emerge from the North. Therefore, the six zones should also be recognised by the constitution,” he said.
Patrick, however, advised political parties, especially the leading ones to always consider the unity and development of the country in whatever decision they take.
Competence not enough – Okorie
An elder statesman, Chief Chekwas Okorie said competence alone will not make a person good president.
Okorie, a former presidential candidate who spoke with Daily Trust in a telephone chat, yesterday, said a competent president who does not care about the issues of national unity, equity and justice among others would not heal the wounds of any country.
“Whichever way it is; whether it is by rotation or not, there is always the need for a competent person to come in as president of Nigeria.
“But the issue of who is competent or who is not competent, or who is more competent than the other is something that is left for the electorate to decide. Before the electorate can decide, the parties also promote their own candidates.
“So, it is also left for the parties to bring up such candidates that will attract the interest of the majority of the electorate in terms of elections. And no party will want to go to elections and lose.
“APC is in power now and by the grace of God, it will complete its 8 years. PDP was in power for 16 years. So APC will do everything constitutionally possible not to lose power just after 8 years and a lot of factors will come to play.
“The issue of national unity, the issue of equity, the issue of justice, the issue of sense of belonging; all of these issues will combine with the issue of competence to be able to be in power. APC is looking at that, PDP is also looking at that.
“So this is a democratic contest and it is in the best interest of the parties to consider these issues that are already raised while considering competence,” he said.