Mamman Daura, who is reputed to be one of the influencers behind President Muhammadu Buhari, has unwittingly stirred controversy by his prescription that in choosing Nigeria’s next president, competence should be considered over rotational presidency.
“This turn-by-turn, it was done once, it was done twice, and it was done thrice… It is better for this country to be one…it should be for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere,” he in an interview on the BBC Hausa Service in an interview on Tuesday
According to him, this will ensure unity in the country.
In saying this, Daura, who is Buhari’s nephew, has drawn the ire of many- individuals and groups- who feel he was stoking the embers of fire in a multi-ethnic nation known for recurring crises often divided along those lines.
Reacting to Daura’s suggestions, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, said Nigeria should continue with the practice of rotational presidency under which the presidency swing between the north and south.
Buhari’s second term will end in 2023, and based on the rotational presidency, the office should revert to the south when he leaves. But Joe Odumakin, Afenifere’s spokesman, believes that the north would still want to return the post. According to him, the south should however be firm and insist on having power return to it in 2023.
Odumakin said he expected the South to forge a common front when the time comes to ensure that the presidency returned to the region in 2023.
Afenifere has been at the forefront of the demand for restructuring in Nigeria, and Chief Supo Shonibare, a stalwart of the group, says that the rotational presidency must subsist until the country is restructured.
Also speaking on the issue, Chief Chekwas Okorie, an elder statesman, contended that competence alone not enough to determine who becomes president of the country. Arguing that there are competent candidates all around the country, Chekwas, a one-time presidential candidate, said that it is the duty of political parties to present such competent candidates and let the electorate decide who wins.
The system of rotating the presidency between the north and the south has been in practice since Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999. It has no constitutional backing but was based simply on a “gentleman’s agreement”.
But while it is still more than two years to the next elections, there have been clandestine and sometimes open moves by some groups to garner support for some candidates for the presidency. This is believed to be the reason behind the crisis that rocked the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which led to the dissolution of the party’s National Working Committee last month by its National Executive Committee.
Similarly, Dr. Wunmi Bewaji, who supports the rotational presidency, believes Daura by his statement was courting trouble for the country. According to him, political office rotation remains central to Nigeria’s democracy. He warned that Daura by his statement might be heating up the polity
On its party, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) notes that rotational presidency is not a constitutional issue, but was adopted for convenience.
In the group’s response to Daura’s statement, Emmanuel Yawe, its secretary, noted that “the Nigerian constitution does not make provision for the rotational presidency; it is done at the convenience of political parties and not a constitutional practice. There is nowhere in the Nigerian constitution where there is provision for rotation.”
He observed that if political parties on their own decide to abandon the system, they have the right to do so.
Also, All Progressives Congress (APC), the party upon which President Buhari became a benefactor of the rotational presidency, rejected Daura`s position.
The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said that the party would do its zoning at the appropriate time. “That is Mamman Daura’s opinion.
“Everybody has their own opinion and right to say ‘this is how I want the system to go’.
“Everybody can come up with his view. “We have different people who have come up with different opinions on this matter.
“But it is not a big deal. “At the appropriate time, the party will sit and do its zoning formula, just like any other party. “So, it is not a problem,” the APC said.
In the same vein, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi, said Daura’s opinion or call is not binding on the party.
“It is his personal opinion and it is not binding on the PDP as a party.
“The PDP is an organized party that appreciates zoning.
“So, at the appropriate time, we shall come up with our zoning formula which will define where the national chairman will come from and where our presidential candidate will come from,” he said.
Similarly, Nnia Nwodo, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the pan-Igbo sociocultural organization, has rejected the suggestion by Mamman Daura that the decision on who becomes Nigeria’s next president should be based on competence, and not on the principle of rotation.
Reacting to the report, Nwodo, through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Emeka Attamah, rejected Daura’s comments, pointing out that it was unfair of him to seek an end to “rotation” after Buhari, who represents the northern region, has enjoyed two terms in quick succession.
“The truth is that Mamman Daura is not being a fair judge. Then, he didn’t believe rotation should end. Now that he has tasted power through Buhari, rotation can end and the most qualified/competent can be voted in, dis-countenancing that the South East has never tasted what he is drooling in?” Nwodo asked.
Nwodo reminded Daura that the law of equity demands that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
“By the way, who determines the most qualified/competent candidate? Is it as competent as the last one they gave the nation?
“It is indisputably the turn of the South, specifically the South East,” he added.