There are indications that Nigeria’s two leading political parties APC and PDP may dump power rotation in the 2023 general elections. Both parties have thrown their presidential slots open to politicians from all the regions in the country, a move that has reinforced the notion that both parties are steeped in caprice.
Many Nigerians are shocked at this development given that there has been an unspoken, even if unwritten understanding that power should be rotated between the South and North to ease tensions.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been in power for seven years and barring any developments, he will be in power for eight years. During his tenure, it is believed that he has favoured the North in what seems like a primitive rehearsal of nepotistic predilections.
Given that Nigeria seems to be at a crossroads with all the arising ethnic tensions and distrusts in the polity, zoning, which will see power rotate to the South, is the best option for the country.
There are fears in the South that the North has monopolized power to the marginalization of the South. In the spirit of equity and fair play, power rotation in Nigeria is not only desirable but necessary to assuage general feelings of alienation across the South.
Before this period, it was believed that the South-East deserved to produce the next president of the country, a move which will give the region a sense of belonging and perhaps, stop all the agitations for a separate country.
The decision by the two leading political parties to do away with zoning will further fan the embers of agitation in the South-East and promote further blood-letting and criminal activities.
Nigeria must work out an arrangement that would ensure peace and assuage bruised feelings across the country. Advanced democracies in the world have evolved through a workable and practical political arrangement that is convenient for all their regions. In Nigeria, the quota system was worked out as a mechanism to achieve balance in schools’ admission and recruitment into various security outfits in the country, The Trumpet gathered.
The greatest beneficiary of the quota system is the North. Although the quota system has continued to stifle merit and excellence, it is somewhat enshrined in Nigeria’s Constitution.
Despite the entrenchment of the quota system in Nigeria, there are still abysmal gaps in education excellence and growth in terms of career development.
The political class should not deliberately cause an implosion in the country through acts of omission and commission. The unwritten arrangement and understanding of power rotation should be respected. Following MKO Abiola’s death, Nigerians agreed that the South-West deserved to be assuaged.
Therefore, power was zoned to the region which saw the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as President in 1999.
It is fair to say that Obasanjo’s emergence saved Nigeria from tipping over the abyss of imminent civil unrest that could have snowballed into a war. The desirability of power rotation in a heterogeneous federation like Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized. It will amount to the highest level of insensitivity if a Northerner emerges as a presidential flag bearer of any of the leading political parties in 2023.
In the current dispensation, Nigeria needs a president from the South, especially the South-East. Any person of good intentions would agree that since the end of the civil war, the South-East has not been properly integrated into the Nigerian polity given its size and contributions to the growth of the country. That sort of bias against the region has fuelled agitations for a separate country called Biafra.
It will be in the interest of the whole country that the two political parties, APC and PDP adopt power rotation that will see them zone their presidential slots to the South-East. It will be foolhardy for the Nigerian political class to pretend that power rotation is not necessary now.
To continue to exclude or deny any ethnic group the opportunity to hold power at the centre is to advance the narrative that One Nigeria is a mirage. Nobody in Nigeria is more Nigerian than the next person. The political class must steer the country away from the precarious precipice on which it delicately hangs. To pretend that all is well while some sections of the country are summarily imploding is to demonstrate an insensitive behaviour which is at cross-purposes with democratic culture.