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Ango Abdullahi and rotational presidency


Prof. Ango Abdullahi

I believe in rotational presidency because ours is still a guided democracy. Social stability is necessary for political and economic stability. Those who end up leaving positive marks on the sand of time are those for whom leadership is made; the masses do not groan under their rule. Great leaders all through history became great by being autonomous.

Many are the reasons adduced for shoo-ins for politicians to become, and those who became, presidents of their countries. Chief among these reasons are that these persons must be (1) place-holders, (2) ideologues, who pursue causes that gladden the hearts of all. (3)They must also have strength of character. To attain high office, a candidate needs one of these qualities.

There are only a handful of persons in history that were blessed with all three qualifications and who became presidents, A fourth quality, which is not common in the political corridor, is that you must be lucky, some say “fated to be.”


A peep into the presidential hole of Nigeria in the fourth republic is quite revealing. President Olusegun Obasanjo, in spite of the fact that he trounced Chief Olu Falae to become president, only managed to do so because he was a place-holder and not an ideologue. Like Dwight Eisenhower, Olusegun Obasanjo’s persona was needed for stability of the country. Especially after the raucous claque of the aborted third republic and the death of M.K.O. Abiola. Chief Olu Falae would have made a better president as well as a seasoned economist but the establishment didn’t see him as a place-holder. The establishment is responsible for the running of a country and a place-holders’ mandate most times is to restore peace and provide solutions to a country’s problems.

Presidents Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, many analysts say, were fated to be president. They had a date with their predestined apogee. Some say they were lucky. For this reason, they never wanted to be president but became one by providence and by being at the right place at the right time. Every human being needs that element of luck sometimes. After all, credentials alone do not qualify people for elective office. There are preferred candidates and qualified candidates.

Sometimes the preferred candidates aren’t the qualified candidates. President Muhammadu Buhari became president owing to his strength of character, not because he is a place-holder, ideologue or lucky. Presidents with strengths of character strive to be autonomous but most times collide with the establishment. George Washington like President Buhari became presidents due to their strengths of character. In countries where the citizenry is politically inert, understanding the algorithm of the intentions of presidents with strengths of character is difficult.

Presidents who are ideologues believe in winning the hearts and minds of the masses. I prefer those who rally nationalistic causes over those who choose regional and ethnic pabulum. Ronald Reagan was an ideologue that spoke to the hearts of Americans, during his famous ‘there you go again ‘debate with President Jimmy Carter. While Carter spoke about the harshness of nature, economy and life, Reagan mythologised the American dream. Small wonder, he served two terms as president. Regrettably, Nigeria is yet to produce an ideologue as president.

Posterity will judge all of these presidents someday rightly or wrongly when their legacies are chronicled. One president Nigeria missed not having in the fourth republic is Dr. Alexander Ekwueme. He is a place-holder, an ideologue, has strength of character but was not lucky enough to be president. I wish he had become president. I wish we can have a president from the South-East with all three qualities mentioned above. Only rotational presidency can ensure peace and stability in Nigeria.

Abah sent this piece from Port Harcourt


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