– Federal Character Rule Supports Rotational PresidencyTHISDAYLIVE – THISDAY Newspapers
Ring true By Yemi Adebowale Phone 08054699539
Ordinarily, it should be simple and straight forward. But some people, largely for personal gains, will not let it be. Nigeria is heterogeneous. This is a fact. So, the office of the President of Nigeria should rotate between the North and the South to promote unity and a sense of belonging. Muhammadu Buhari will complete eight years as President in 2023. In the spirit of Federal Character and fair play, that office should be occupied by a southerner for another eight years. Rotation is constitutional because it is backed by the Federal Character law entrenched in the 1999 Constitution. I will elaborate later. It is also a resolution influenced by the peculiarities of this country. Anybody genuinely interested in the unity and progress of this country should not be opposed to rotational Presidency and power shift. All those that have sworn to protect our Constitution must support rotational Presidency.
The resolution of the Northern governors at the end of their meeting in Kaduna last Monday saying zoning or power rotation is not in the Nigerian Constitution, is evidently childish. Is the federal character law backing power rotation not obvious in the Nigerian Constitution? The good thing about the resolution of the Northern governors is that they did not demand to produce the President of Nigeria in 2023. These governors and those persistently saying Presidential power rotation is unconstitutional are just being clever by half. They should stop being petty and think more about our Constitution and the unity of this lovely country. I’m surprised that the Southern governors are not making a case for the sustenance of zoning and power shift on constitutional basis. I can’t remember any of them arguing along this line.
As a result, it is pertinent to break down Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, which makes spread in the distribution of offices at the federal level compulsory. The office of the President is inclusive. This part of our constitution supports a spread in the composition of government in such a way that a particular state, ethnic group or tribe should not have dominance. It supports sharing of power.
Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution states: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
The key words here as it relates to rotational Presidency or power shift at the Presidency level are: “The composition of the Government of the Federation” shall “reflect the federal character of Nigeria.” The Executive is part of the Government of the Federation. The President heads this Executive arm. So, people from a section of Nigeria cannot perpetually occupy the office of the President. This will be a breach of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution. Is this not straight forward? It requires little mental effort. So, those saying power shift and rotation are unconstitutional should have a rethink. They need to go back and study our constitution dispassionately. This Section 14 (3) sets out to promote cohesion at the national level. It aims to carry everybody along in governance to ensure unity, equality and justice in the distribution of power and offices.
This 1999 Constitution prescribes a nationwide spread and balance in such a way that a particular tribe or ethnic group is not seen as dominating the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies. The office of the President is inclusive because it is part of the Government of the Federation. Rotational Presidency is manifestly not contrary to this country’s Constitution. The northern governors, while arguing against rotational Presidency, only referred to how a person can constitutionally be elected President, to back their warped submission.
Let’s even put the constitution aside, many other things being done today on the political field in Nigeria are not all in the 1999 Constitution. They are being done to promote unity. Everything can’t be written in the Constitution.
Some argue that rotational Presidency is undemocratic. This is not true. Nominating candidates on the basis of rotation does not make it undemocratic. It is political consensus; nominating candidates on the basis of this is democratic. Democracy is majority rule. It is government of the people for the people by the people. All these come to play during elections.
Again, some persistently punch holes in rotational Presidency, saying it would deprive the country of quality President. These set of people talk about merit as if it is limited to a part of the country. There is no part of this country that can’t supply quality human resources for the office of the President of Nigeria. In my own little Ikorodu town in Lagos, we can safely supply dozens of world-class materials for the office of the President. This country is blessed. Unfortunately, these high quality men are hindered from getting to positions of authority by devious people who dominate Nigeria’s political landscape at all levels.
On the flip side, the argument that the North should ignore the clamour for power shift to the South because it has the vote to determine outcomes of Presidential elections is not solid. North has the vote to determine who becomes President, so says, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum. Some people are queuing behind him. Baba-Ahmed is not a good student of history. From history, it is clear that the North is not a monolithic region. The South is equally not monolith. There is no way a Presidential candidate of Northern origin will win all the 19 northern states will.
With the way Nigeria is structured, and the 1999 Constitution being the guiding rule, neither the voters in the North, nor the ones in the South, can single-handedly determine who becomes President of this country. Buhari’s handshake with the South-west gave him victory in 2015 and 2019, thanks to Bola Tinubu.
Those opposed to rotational Presidency should also read the beautiful story of Switzerland, a developed country that practices rotational Presidency. The position of President of the Swiss Confederation rotates among the seven Councilors (representing the 26 Swiss cantons) on a yearly basis. This has sustained the unity of the diverse people of Switzerland. The different ethnic groups, speaking different languages, and following different religions in Switzerland are happy.
The clarification of Governor Nasir el-Rufai on rotational Presidency is soothing. Northern Governor’s Forum never opposed the presidency going to the South in 2023, so says el-Rufai. He adds that the Northern governors are only against the language used in the resolution of the Southern governors on the issue of power shift. This is good music to my ears.
True lovers of this country must jealously protect our rotational Presidency. It is our pride; the strength of our country, booster of our unity and the tonic sustaining our democracy. Power rotation is well-intentioned and aimed at giving every Nigerian a sense of belonging. Any northerner that truly loves this country should not be talking about running for the office of the President in 2023. Arise all compatriots; let’s build a united, peaceful and just country with power rotation.
The Ruins of Shinkafi Town
Virtually everywhere in Zamfara State is flowing with blood. But the case of Shinkafi town is most pathetic. This once beautiful town is now a ghost of itself, no thanks to Fulani militias. In the last two weeks, 400 people had either been killed or abducted by the bandits, and the killings are still on, so says the Sarkin Shanu of Shinkafi, Dr. Suleiman Shuaibu. The entire Shinkafi LG, with 150 villages has less than 50 soldiers and policemen. This is why Fulani militias enjoy a free rein here. The vigilante group set up by Hausa farmers called Yan Zakai lacks the capacity to contain them.
Shuaibu laments on BBC Hausa last week, “In Shinkafi Local Government, we are in a helpless situation. The soldiers moved here to protect Shinkafi and its environs were withdrawn after three days. These bandits are still killing our people. Even the day before yesterday, they came into Shinkafi; a man who went to the farm to get millet was shot and killed; they also shot his son who is still receiving treatment in hospital.
“They attacked some villages – Shanawa, Katuru, Kursasa, Ganjeru, Bula, Batoli and killed people. They also attacked Kamarawa in Isa Local Government near us. They killed and kidnapped almost 400 people.”
The disconnection of telecommunications facilities aimed at tackling the menace of Fulani militias has compounded the woes of the people of Shinkafi. They can no longer call for help when attacked. “We go to Sokoto to make telephone calls. We take transport from here in Shinkafi through bad roads and travel to Sokoto to make telephone calls just to let the world know what is happening; to speak to those we believe can save us and for the world to hear,” declares Shuaibu.
Abductions and killings have continued in Zamfara State in spite of the disconnection of telecommunications facilities. On September 3, on the day the communications blackout came into effect, four persons were killed while about 50 others were abducted when terrorists attacked Ruwan Doruwa district in Maru LG.
The terrorists also killed four in Bugundu town after attacking a police station. On September 11, terrorists killed 12 soldiers in Mutumji, Maru LG. They also killed seven civilians in Shinkafi and Zurmi local governments on September 16, burning the home of the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Nasiru Magarya, at Magarya community.
Who will save the North-west from these killers? A tough question!
NAF Should Stop Bombing Civilians
The mistakes are embarrassing. They appear unending too. I can’t understand why the military, while searching for Boko Haram fighters, keeps dropping bombs on innocent civilians. The killing of about 400 IDPs in Rann few years back is still fresh in our memory. Suddenly, mishits are coming back. Early this week, scores of innocent fishermen were killed in Kwatar Daban Masara, a border town in Monguno LG of Borno State, when the military dropped bombs on them in error.
They were after members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) that controls this area. ISWAP recently lifted a ban on fishing here, allowing fishermen to move in and fish in the freshwater lake for a fee. This is happening in a Nigerian territory. This talk by the military that those killed in Kwatar Daban Masara were terrorists masquerading as fishermen is balderdash.
The mishit in Kwatar Daban Masara is coming barely two weeks after 10 villagers were killed in error in a similar airstrike during a pursuit of Boko Haram members in neighbouring Yobe State. The Nigerian military has to show greater sense of professionalism. In this modern era, consistent mishit by the Air Force is unacceptable.
It is equally perturbing that Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters are still pummeling our troops, a confirmation that the so-called surrendering of terrorists is a ruse. Dozens of soldiers, who were on their way to Maiduguri, were last week ambushed by the terrorists between Marte and Dikwa in Borno State. The rebels fired rocket launchers at military trucks, killing several soldiers.
“What happened to the military along Marte-Dikwa axis is disturbing. It confirms that Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters are very much on ground in this town,” remarked a source yesterday. Marte, about 180km north from Maiduguri is still unsafe, due to the activities of the terrorists. Most of its people are displaced and taking refuge in Monguno, and some parts of Maiduguri.