Ethnic elders should join the Third Force
Sir: At this point in Nigeria’s history, shameful Nigerians should be ashamed of Nigeria’s situation. Why should Nigeria be a big for nothing nation which citizens are suffering humiliation and death in the hands of less endowed nations, due to economic and industrial hardships keeping them away from home? If American citizens suffer humiliation in a foreign land, they would go back home with equanimity; American government will intervene satisfactorily to avoid losing the next election. But in Nigeria, the government will misappropriate public funds to bribe voters who would at that moment forget their sorrows and dance.
Some prominent political elders from all over Nigeria agreed on rotational presidency in 1998 and it worked in 1999, 2003 and 2007 when all the major political parties chose their presidential candidates from the southwest in 1999 and 2003; and from the northwest in 2007. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan took undue advantage of the death of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to deny the existence of the rotational agreement in 2011, and those who should oppose him supported him based on ethnic and religious affiliations, coupled with bribery and corruption. Nigerians were told by self-seeking politicians that rotational presidency was undemocratic. What is democratic other than what a people adopt as good or necessary for political peace and progress? Has Nigeria not suffered enough in the hands of inordinate ambitions, to warrant constitutionalisation of rotational presidency among the six geo-political zones?
Another issue to be considered is whether Nigeria should continue to violate her constitution that prohibits “state religion” and to continue to politicize religion, with particular reference to Christianity and Islam. Any doubt that abuse of political power by the late President Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and the current President, General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) is responsible for the attack on Boko Haram and perpetuation of carnage and economic destruction of Nigeria, 2009 till date? How possible is it for Nigeria to develop under the entanglement of religion with politics in a religiously pluralistic nation?
Given the foregoing, it is crucial for today’s elders to look beyond the former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) who is by no means sacrosanct as a political leader, but is concerned that Nigeria should not go on as usual under war and importation of sophisticated weapons, and that the country should be repositioned. Northern leaders have reason to be aggrieved because it was not right to truncate rotational presidency against the North in 2011. But now that GMB is serving the second term of the northwest, it will help if the presidency moves to the north-central in 2019, and we constitutionalise rotational presidency after the election to reassure every zone of equity, and secure political order, discipline, unity, peace, progress and stability. Nigeria has tried unregulated political and economic survival of the fittest. She should jettison disorder for regulated and orderly zonal survival of the fittest.
Sophisticated weapons cannot guarantee peace and progress without political order and discipline. If there was no truncation of rotational presidency in 2011, nothing would have stopped the return of the presidency to the south in 2015. But now the south-south should be taken as having served two terms in Aso Rock in person of Jonathan who actually promised to spend a single term as the elected President. Joining the Third Force is not about OBJ but to reposition Nigeria away from disorder, carnage and economic destruction. Today’s elders and the youths should write their own names in silver by joining in fashioning a sustainable Nigeria.
Prof. Oyeniran Abioje, University of Ilorin.