Elder Statesman and former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, said, weekend, that it was uncalled-for and hypocritical for Northern politicians to argue that there was no rotation of power between North and South, as President Muhammadu Buhari presently serving his second term in office, rode to power in 2015 based on the arrangement.
Clark, also the leader of the South-South geo-political zone and chair, Board of Trustees, BOT, Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, also tried to shoot down the presidential ambition of All Progressives Congress, APC, leader from the South-West zone, Senator Bola Tinubu, saying, it was the turn of the South-East zone to produce the next president in 2023.
Reacting to the recent comments of former National Security Adviser, Mamman Daura, on some national issues, he said the agreement to rotate presidency between North and South was reached at the 2014 National Conference attended by over 490 delegates representing various aspects of the Nigerian public, including professional bodies, trade unions, market women, the physically challenged and the youths. And the essence was to give a sense of belonging to all.
His words: “It is, therefore, unnecessary and insincere of the same Northern politicians to say that they no longer believe in the rotation of the presidency between the North and the South because this was the reason, at that time, they accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of breaching the rotation agreement.”
He contended that Northern politicians said: “That the presidency should rotate between the North and the South and insisted that the North should produce the president to complete the two tenures of eight years of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.”
“It was this grievance, during the 2011 presidential elections that resulted to the crisis where many Southerners, who were in the North, including National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members, were killed, particularly in Bauchi State, where 10 were brutally murdered, including my nephew Mr. Elliot Adowie.
“In 2015, it was this same issue of rotation that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power as there was great opposition from the northerners, who insisted that President Jonathan should not contest the 2015 General Elections, because it was the turn of the North. Today, President Buhari is doing his second term.
“So you can, therefore, imagine Mamman Daura and a few others like my good friend, Professor Ango Abdullahi of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), who are now advocating for a competent President, and that rotation should be dropped.
“A Nigeria where citizens are equal and are qualified for any appointment in the governance of the country, is the only answer to a unity; a Nigeria where no region will continue to dominate the others is the panacea for peace. When Lord Lugard amalgamated the northern and the southern parts of this country in 1914, he did not say that one region should lord it over the others. One other reason and advantage of rotation is that it goes a long way to ensure the stability and security of the country, there will be that feeling of oneness and conviviality among Nigerians that all are equal citizens of this country.
“Even if participatory democracy is built on trust and competence, every region in this country, has people with such credentials,” he noted.
According to him: “The Conference lasted for about four months and all decisions taken were unanimous. The late Justice Idris Kutigi, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, was the Chairman of the Conference and his Deputy was Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, former Foreign Affairs Minister. Mrs. Valerie Azinge, (SAN), was the Secretary and one of her assistants at the Conference is the present Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu. Six Hundred recommendations were made by the Conference, and submitted to Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the then President and Commander in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria, who set up the National Conference.
“The first set of recommendations was purely meant for Mr. President and his executive to implement, which he did not do until he left Office.
“The second set was for the President to submit to the National Assembly for implementation, while the third recommendation was purely a draft Constitution for Nigeria, which is meant to be considered, amended and approved by the National Assembly, and then finally to be submitted for a National referendum. This could have given us a well restructured Nigeria, with full devolution of power from the center to the other federating units.
“Nigeria is made up of over 250 ethnic nationalities and many regional bodies. That was why the Conference recommended that even at the State or regional levels, the governorship should rotate among the three Senatorial Zones of the State. A situation whereby one ethnic group, because it thinks it is lager, will use its size and population to dominate smaller ethnic groups in a state is unacceptable.”