By Muyiwa Olayinka
I have often argued against this principle of power rotation. It is archaic, old fashion and it’s about time we dispense it off. It breeds mediocrity and inhibits meritocracy.
This power rotation was fostered on us in a mischievous way by the late General Abacha’s constitutional conference. It was created not for altruistic reasons but for his (Abacha’s) selfish agenda to self-perpetuate himself in office. His plan was to transmute from a military dictator to a civilian dictator.
Unfortunately he died in office before he could execute his sinister plan. His successor, General Abdulsalami was in an hurry to transit power to civilian rule hurriedly put the leftover of this strange document together that finally culminated to Nigeria’s 1999 constitution. This is the birth of power rotation in Nigeria.
This strange document of 1999 constitution evolved from this conference. It granted enormous powers to the arms of the Executives: namely the President and the Governors. They have so many powers they are more or less semi gods or Emperors. This power rotation has been in force since the current fourth republic. It is a “gentleman agreement” that is not expressly stated in the constitution but has been effectively used. It means that power must rotate from north and south.
This is the singular reason why late President Musa Yar’adua from the north succeeded Obasanjo from the south after eight years in office. Unfortunately the death of Yar’adua put a temporary wedge to this arrangement. The sudden death of the occupant of the office of the President was not taken into consideration, this is why the north resisted the then former Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to succeed his boss when he was indisposed. The doctrine of necessity by the National Assembly paved way for him to become the Acting President before he became the President after the death of Yar’adua.
In a nutshell Jonathan became Mr President by a mistake or a default. The mistake had to be corrected after the completion of the remaining years of Yar’adua’s first term and another four years that was reluctantly, grudgingly tolerated or forcibly forced down the throat of the north. This issue of power rotation contributed largely to the loss of Goodluck Jonathan in the Presidential election of 2015. Even the northern politicians in his party PDP silently worked against him at the polls.
This power rotation has again thrown up President Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from the north as the two leading candidates in the next year’s election.
It has put the aspirations of other brilliant Nigerians that are not from the south into jeopardy. Some of these aspirants in the 2019 Presidential elections are:
- Mr Kingsley Moghalu, a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank and a brilliant Swiss based financial expert
- Donald Duke a cerebral former Governor of Cross River state, who turned the fortunes of one of the disadvantaged south south states in Nigeria
- Dr Oby Ezekwesili, former Managing Director of World Bank and a tested administrator
- Omoyele Sowore, a human right activist, former student union leader and a founder of an online portal Sahara Reporters based in New York, USA
- Mr Martin Onovo, a consultant and a Fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers in oil and gas sector spanning more than 25 years both locally and abroad.
Some of these aspirants are young, urbane, and virile, and are exposed to international best practices. Unfortunately they have been sidelined by the region they came from; hence, do not have the financial muscle and national spread to realize their ambitions.
The status quo and powers to be seem to favor both Buhari and Atiku that are in their seventies, and are basically below average going by their past records in public offices and their antecedents. Buhari is a career civil servant that had been in retirement as a former Nigerian army. Atiku a former custom officer resigned from public office and became a billionaire in private business in a rentier system that favors the few privileged.
A quick look at the credentials of the running mates of Buhari and Atiku reveal that they are more qualified than their principals.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a cerebral lawyer, is the current Vice President and the running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a former Attorney General of Lagos that revamped positively the dispensation of justice in Lagos state. He’s also a former lecturer of many years in one of the Ivy League Universities in Nigeria. He proved his mettle with the way he handled governance when his boss was indisposed.
Mr. Peter Obi is the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Obi is a seasoned administrator, a business man and an investor in many blue chip companies in Nigeria. He was a former governor of Anambra state, one of the most difficult states in Nigeria. He became a governor in a divine way because he was rigged out of the governorship election. He ran the state in a very prudent manner and brought it to a level of profitability. Anambra is currently one of the states in Nigeria that met the millennium development goals in areas of poverty alleviation and transparency in governance under Obi’s watch.
Nigerians in all walks of lives should come together and resist this power rotation that prevents leading lights of Nigerians from aspiring to the office of the President. It is doing a lot of damage than good to our political lives.