The airwaves have been flooded with calls for a transfer of power from North to South, even though zoning and rotation are not expressly provided for in the 1999 Constitution handed down to us by the military under General Abdulsaalam Abubakar rtd. It is an internal arrangement of political parties aimed at balancing power and stemming the crisis that may arise if a particular people continues to cling to power. Since the uninterrupted return to democracy in 1999, this mechanism has benefited from a certain stability in the Center and in most States. As we have practiced the North-South rotation, the dynamic shifts to the six geopolitical zones, with North and South having three zones each.
Rotation along the zones appears to be under threat as the 2023 general election approaches. The South is where the battle will take place and victory will be in the North.
The silence of the Nigerian Constitution as well as the Electoral Act as amended is the catalyst for the implosion to come in the South as some political gladiators in the South West and by extension the South South are already throwing their hats at the ring. The South East, which is the only area in the South to have landed the top job, generally in the spirit of fairness and fair play, faces imminent self-destruction with the ideals of the socio-cultural organization Apex Igbo , Ohaneze Ndigbo being weighed on a moral scale. The group believes that the Igbo people are also found in states other than the southeast, making it difficult to deny their friends and relatives in Rivers, Delta, Benue, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom the right to run for the presidency. in 2023. It gradually becomes an individual race as more and more people express an interest in running. Those who insist on the zonal arrangement have also forgotten that the North with two opportunities – late Musa Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari failed to transit from one zone to another. Both are from the same state and area. It is even more interesting that they are both from the same tribe-Fulani.
President Umaru Yar’adua’s unfortunate ill health threw out the much-discussed doctrine of necessity which made Goodluck Jonathan his deputy as interim president and subsequently president, when Yar’Adua eventually died. He had barely spent two years in power and a constitutional crisis erupted. This was not shocking to many as word of his poor health was widespread even before he was sworn in as president. I remember the funny but unfortunate incident during one of the Presidential campaigns when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo called the sick PDP candidate to ask if he was dead or alive. In his usual humorous manner, Obasanjo asked Yaradua who was hospitalized after collapsing at a presidential rally if he could confirm or refute the rumor that he was dead.
Yes, Yar’Adua was not dead at that time but he was sick, and very sick. It was common knowledge in and around Katsina State, where he served as governor for eight years, that he could not have fully discharged his role as CEO due to his diet. It wasn’t his age although some ailments were triggered by old age. It is a natural phenomenon.
The unfortunate crisis created by President Obasanjo who many believed knew of Yar’Adua’s health vis-à-vis eventually changed the zoning scheme, with South-South replacing North-West for a period of six months. year. This new order paved the way for a South that ruled for fourteen years. Obasanjo from the South West and Jonathan from the South South spent eight and six years respectively while Late Yar’Adua spent two years and Buhari from the same North West will spend eight years, totaling ten years for the North West.
There are different pressure groups that have cited different reasons why power should either be transferred to the South or kept in the North. Arguments are just according to the perspective from which it is viewed and whose interest it aims to serve. For the people of Nigeria, what matters is balance in structure, security and a stable economy. Beyond the clamor for a change of power, there is a sincere and camouflaged desire for a change of leadership in real terms and as evidenced by other nations that have conquered religion and ethnicity. An Obama wouldn’t have been if it was in Nigeria!
The reason why the agitation for a change in the location of power arose from the precarious situation where appointments are unbalanced in the federal public service as well as the deliberate marginalization of a group of people. But then, should good leadership be sacrificed on the altar of zoning and rotation?
The winner-takes-all nature of the Nigerian political system creates an even more difficult situation as only those who appear to have been prominent in the corridors of power are appropriate to compete for these positions, albeit tested and untrustworthy.
The current state of the nation calls for a true national conference to chart the way forward. But the noise from different political camps has consumed any reasonable voice of truth.
Banditry, Boko Haram, kidnappings and ritual killings, among others, are issues that must be addressed or else these monsters will devour the nation in no time.
When a similar scenario played out in the Niger Delta region, it was President Umaru Yar’Adua who instituted the amnesty program that brought lasting peace to the region. Unfortunately, his good intentions were cut short by death, barely two years after his election.
It is rather worrying that as the nation grapples with a similar albeit heightened challenge, the temptation to deliver a sick nation to the South from the North does not resist.
The major problems facing northern Nigeria are unfortunately the creation of northern banditry, Boko Haram and kidnappings. If the tide is not stemmed under a northern president, with most service chiefs and security chiefs from the same region, is it likely that a southerner, especially a Christian, would be empowered to clean up the augean stable?
Can the nation survive another four or eight years of a relatively elderly president with manageable health rumors?
Without being pretentious, I am being bold in saying that the secret plot to line up people over sixty to succeed Buhari could be a re-enactment of the challenges we faced under Buhari’s presidency. To be categorical, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has no moral reason to seek to succeed Buhari given his age, mental and physical condition.
I smell a rat. Northerners who have joined the campaign are doing so for selfish purposes. They want power to be retained in the North the same way Jonathan continued after Yar’Adua, giving the South an advantage over the North.
Also, the wild card in the political game is the call for President Jonathan to stand for re-election for just four years. This will guarantee the North another eight consecutive years from 2027!
Either way, it’s opportunistic.
The South must reject any Greek gift offered by the North.
Written by Chief Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe, socio-political commentator, analyst and columnist based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State