As Power Shift Debate Heightens Scheming In Parties – LEADERSHIP NEWS
The debate over power shift ahead of the 2023 presidential election has remained topical. And as the contest draws nearer, discussion over the issue will get more intense.
Although the matter seems to have taken a backseat on national discuss as the intrigues over the Anambra election and the scheming over the direct primaries debate rage, the two major parties, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continue to hold their cards close to the chest over the zoning saga.
While political actors from the North and South regions have started declaring their ambitions either directly or through proxies, opinion leaders from the two zones are still locked in the power rotation debate debate.
Across party lines, the supporters of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (PDP); former Senate president, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki (PDP); Sokoto State governor Aminu Tambuwal (PDP); Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (PDP); former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu (APC); Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi (APC) have been campaigning even though their principals have formally declared for the seat.
On the other hand, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim (PDP); immediate-past president of the Nigerian Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Sam Ohuabunwa (PDP); former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Kingsley Moghalu (ADC) have publicly declared their ambitions to run for the top office.
Yet, the Southern and Middlebelt Elders Forum, which include the Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum, Ohaneze and Middlebelt forum, and Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the Northern Elders Forum and Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) are yet to reach a compromise on the power rotation debate.
The 36 state governors have not been left out of the debate, as their ranks were split along regional lines on the matter. While southern governors insist that power “must” shift to their region, their northern counterparts, backed by their traditional rulers, have expressed reservations over the demand of the southern governors.
It would seem like there is a stalemate of sorts, pundits aver, even as debate with political parties rage.
For some pundits however, the debate bothers on justice even though there is justification for any line of argument advanced by both sides.
Already, the likes of PDP chieftain and media mogul, High Chief Raymond Dopkesi, have argued for his party to zone power to the North as that remains the surest way for it to reclaim power in 2023.
However proponents of power rotation, on the other hand, argue on the basis of justice and fair distribution of political power.
They also argue that the contention over the issue arises because of the low level of development and a lack of institutions that can eradicate nepotism and other anti-social behaviours in the society.
While it is argued that the process of eradicating nepotism might be gradual, those who campaign for power shift in 2023, like former presidential aide, Dr Umar Ardo, said “In any situation where some sections of the country are permanently shut out of power will not augur well for such a country.
“No matter how one sees it, except in the estimation of people who are not true patriots, the agitation for power shift from the North to the South is not, fairly speaking, rationally speaking, asking for too much.
“It is only reasonable, not only to argue and posit that since power has been domiciled in the North for eight years, that is from 2015 to 2023, that one should take it for granted that it should rotate to the South as a way of showing enduring peace in a country that, from various indications, seems to need just the slightest reason to explode.”
He recalled that “Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took eight years with Atiku Abubakar. Umaru Yar’Adua took his turn with Goodluck Jonathan; Yar’Adua died without completing his tenure and Jonathan completed it and had another term but was thrown out when he went for another term which would have seen him break a record of being sworn in a third time.
“The North was piqued, and wanted power back to the North. So, northern leaders must not think that the presidency should not rotate to the South in 2023. Doing so will be unfair.”
He continued, “We want unity in this country, we want one Nigeria. So, we do not need to begin to beat the drum of war before we know what is decent and proper to do. I have heard from all quarters that the ruling APC is likely to zone the presidency to the South.
“That is the fair thing to do. From what we are hearing also, the other party (PDP) is equally looking at the South. But that is yet to be confirmed. The body language of our people is that fair is fair. Once the president completes his eight-year tenure, power should shift back to the South.”
Nevertheless, other pundits opine that the disposition of Northern governors and other political heavyweights that qualified Nigerians, from any part of the country, should be allowed to contest the presidential election, cannot be wished away.
Reacting however, Ardo said “No matter how good or bad such a position may be considered, it is only a matter that will forever engage the attention of pundits in the turf of politics.
“No matter how anyone may look at it, there is no argument that being more persuasive than the need to be your brother’s keeper and so accommodate him by way of accepting that what is good for the goose is good also for the geese.”
Advancing his argument, he noted that even the Abacha junta, which many people will swear goes down as the worst, fashioned a constitutional arrangement for rotational presidency that would be acceptable to the majority of Nigerians.
“He was mindful of the need to avoid concentration of power in the hands of a few, or a sectional group, and the need to allay the fears in certain quarters that the position of the number one citizen of Nigeria is reserved for a particular area of the country. Regrettably, the modality for the implementation was not concluded before the demise of General Abacha.”
“If General Abdulsalami who took over the mantle of leadership carried on with this issue, adopted the 1979 constitution and included the rotational presidency instead of leaving the idea with the parties, rotation would have been part and parcel of the Nigerian constitution. Because zoning is not constitutional, that is, not being in the constitution, it has remained “a conventional wisdom in the Nigerian politics.” This is why, since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999, the political parties have maintained rotation because of its convenience,” he said.
As the 2023 polls pans into view, indications are that the debate over power rotation will intensify as the contending forces hope to get the upper hand in the political battle. In any case, all eyes are on the political parties where the final decision on the matter will be taken.
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