A democratic government is by definition, essentially a government of the people, which is expected to show much greater sensitivity and responsibility to the people than any other form of government. However, the last two decades in Nigeria’s political calendar must go down as our season of failed promises and recycling of incompetent political leaders as Presidents, governors among other political portfolios and appointments. In a way, the political recycling of leaders was inaugurated since the nation gained her independence in 1960. Ever since then, the procession of the same bandwagon of politicians has been recycled with reckless abandon even as they constantly betray the nation with poor leadership. Hence, the kinds of body language exhibited by the present government to what is happening as regards insecurity and the display of ineptitude by political leaders has helped to drift the ship of state to a dangerous position causing eminent Nigerians and statesmen to tinker on the way forward.
In fact, the tensed nature of the polity has evoked the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, the other day, to re-echo the clamour for power shift to the South as he called for zoning and rotational presidency among the six geo-political zones at Abuja during the 100th anniversary of Balewa Old Boys Association (BOBA). The former leader known for his fervent belief in ‘one Nigeria’ said that no ethnic group is better outside the nation than inside as one united Nigeria. Therefore, he proposed that, the antidote for marginalisation in Nigeria’s politics and the need for peace, tranquility and development to reign in the country is to embrace rotational president with two vice presidents. That one of them should come from the zone producing the President while the other should be elected into power during the presidential election. Also, he maintained that governorship position of the 36 states of the federation should also be rotated among the three Senatorial districts.
Indeed, there can be no objection to any political structure that will allow peace, justice and equity to reign in the land. If for anything, it would encourage greater political performance and Nigerians would have more confidence in the system. However, General Gowon is not a lone voice in the wilderness, there have been calls for rotational president among well meaning Nigerians. Some of the proponents of this call have argued in the same line of thought with His Excellency, the former Head of state that rotational president will bring about peace and development in the country. The Borno state governor, Babagana Zulum recently at the golden jubilee lecture and the public presentation of a book titled: Strategic Turnaround said, “Power rotation is a covenant between us, hence, the need to shift the power to South”. He further asserted that, “…good governance is the heart and soul of security and development. Bad governance will spread insecurity and destroy the possibility of development as trust is broken between the elected and the electorate…”.
The common denominator in the demand for rotational president is a perception that in spite of democracy, certain structural problems continue to plague Nigeria. Some of these problems are historical dating back to the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates among others. Currently, challenges like insecurity, banditry and kidnapping occurred as a result of poor leadership in the previous and current administrations. It is surprising that in 60 plus years of nationhood, Nigerians are as disillusioned as ever that the political leadership has not managed the country’s vast resources and wealth meaningfully to meet the expectations of the people. In all these period, Nigerians have been constantly greeted with poor leadership spiced with ethnic and religious favouratism. From the present on-goings, Nigeria is at best seen to be romantising the colonial system of government where a master/slave relationship was the norm. This has continued to cause a huge doubt and suspicion among various ethnic and religious groups in the country. The overriding impact from the above is that Nigeria under the spell of religious and ethnic politics does not, and cannot guarantee fairness and justice for all Nigerians. For this reason, poor leadership remains one of the sore points at the centre of the Nigerian question.
In fact, with the current level at which nepotism and insecurity has gone, many fear that Nigeria is heading towards a failed state. Surprisingly, there are those who think the nation is doing well despite the ugly shape of the economy, senseless killings, kidnapping and banditry across the country among others. Perhaps, they are beneficiaries of the unjust and unfair system. Aside insecurity, since the advent of the present administration, Nigerians have seen several threats to the unity of the country. Nigerians have witnessed the existence and rise in influence of an association of cattle rearers’ known as Miyetti Allah who speak with audacious audacity on issues that heat up the polity.
Yet, it seems a tall order for the ruling government to summon the courage to caution the association from making inflammatory comments. It is surprisingly jaw dropping that in a country that proclaims its secularity with jealousy and pride among the comity of nations, yet the government past and present shut its eyes as the Northern part of the country unilaterally imposed Sharia laws. At the moment, some states in the South West and South East have taken the excuse of insecurity challenges in the country to establish regional security outfit to protect its people. As it were, the country’s division along geographical and ethnic lines seems to encourage the agitation for regional autonomy in the absence of good governance from the centre.
In this kind of setting, there is need for circumspection by all men who value and love the country to remain united. Therefore, for the nation to walk out of the democratic structure trap that makes electing political office holders such a high-voltage political issue requires a gentleman approach that all stakeholders should come together in a national dialogue and agree to restructure the country. This would ensure that the interests of all sections of the country are guaranteed to enthrone equity, justice and fairness as well as the economic emancipation of the Nigerian people.