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Power shift after Buhari’s tenure fraudulent, says Mohammed


• Why North Must Cede Power To The South In 2023, By Tijjani

Elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Muhammad, has again faulted those pushing for the return of the exalted seat of the Presidency to the southern part of the country after the second term tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Abuja, Muhammad described the idea behind the power shift agitation as fraudulent. But a former presidential aspirant of the opposition Labour Party (LP), Isa Tijjani, warned against violation of the rotation of power principle between the northern and southern parts of the country.

Tijjani, in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, said it behooves on him to turn a blind eye on those pushing for the retention of power in the North after the end of his tenure in 2023. Mohammed, who was the Second Republic minority leader in the House of Representatives, argued that it is untrue that the power shift principle has engendered unity and the spirit of nationalism among Nigerians since 1999.

He stated: “From the time I was a member of parliament, I never believed in this whole issue of power shift. I have never believed in zoning or rotation and I still don’t believe in it whatever the consequence to whichever part of the country. I don’t believe in it. I believe it is a lie, it is undemocratic and I believe it is against the rule of law and democracy.

“Democracy cannot be shortchanged on this mad opportunistic idea of some notables individuals wanting to be president, simply because by using that, they can now have the power and abuse it, which has been the trend in Nigeria from independence to date. Nothing has happened to make me believe in zoning or rotation.” Reminded that the idea was aimed at giving all sections of the country a sense of belonging, he retorted: “Has it done so from 1999 to date? You don’t look for history by playing gimmicks. Look at the records, has power shift brought any peace, any sense of responsibility, any sense of nationalism? It hasn’t! “So, when you try some useless experiment and it fails, you should be honest to admit that this has been tried and it has failed. Since 1999 to date, is the country any more united? Are the elites any more responsible?

The answers to all these questions, you know. “The idea of zoning or power shift is a fraudulent idea. I don’t believe in it and even if we try it, it is going to fail.” The Kano-born politician believed that Nigerians should be allowed to vote for a candidate of their choice based on merit and competence, irrespective of the political party and ethnic affiliations.

Mohammed also threw his weight behind the decision by the government to raise the Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5 per cent, saying it is in the best interest of the country.“But I have a feeling that Nigerians have been so spoilt by politicians that somehow, they believe some of them are above the law and should not pay taxes as at when due. So, as far as I am concerned, the increase in the VAT is modest enough and I believe the people can absorb it.  “I sincerely hope the money that would accrue to the treasury would be prudently used so that people do not have to be too much persuaded to pay their taxes as at when due. The honest truth is that you cannot run a government without those taxes, as even the money we get from oil is essentially taxation.” Tijjani, a former national vice president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said it would serve the interest of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) if Buhari speaks up on his preferred successor from the southern part of the country as soon as possible. This, he noted, would not only enhance the chances of the APC retaining power in 2023 but also enhance unity and cohesion among Nigerians.

Tijjani, who aspired for the presidency in the 2011 presidential poll, in the letter, said: “Recently, things have been happening in your party, which could be regarded as nasty, but you kept sealed lips on it. In my opinion, the action is not healthy, because as the leader of the nation, you are as well the overall leader of the party. “Another action I find not very palatable is a statement credited to you that you are not going to endorse any politician for any political office. I find this rather too late and a diversion to the issues on the ground.

“I would love to ask Mr. President this pertinent question: Does he wish the APC to continue in government or it is a case of after me, you people are on your own?  “Students of contemporary political history will agree that in the whole history of politics of our country, 2015 was the first time a marriage of convenience, politically, was tied between the Southwest and the North. “What do we intend to do with this union? Jettison it, collapse it and let everybody go his way? I think this would be the grievous mistake that would ever take place on the shores of Nigeria.” “Mr. President, kindly do away with courtiers in your government who are asking that power must remain in the north.”

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