Tasks before the Buhari presidency
THE immediate task before the incoming Buhari government is to restore unity in this extremely divided country. General Buhari has truly persevered and secured victory at the rougher ends of political struggle in the country; he now needs to win the peace by playing the role of a unifier in this battered country.
There will be two sides to the achievement of this goal – the short and long-term aspects. The short-term aspect of the task before the incoming APC-led Federal Government will involve titular reassurances that despite electoral battles that we have just fought and the lopsided voting pattern that emerged, the Buhari administration would extend a hand of fellowship to all sections of the country through a process that does not discriminate or deprive any section of any rights, privilege and adequate representation in government.
In this regard, it will be difficult and inadvisable for the Buhari government to overlook certain foundations and enactments laid down by the PDP-led governments of the last 16 years in its entirety.
It is expected that the APC government will sift through these enactments and copy or adopt some of them for a smooth running of the country.
In my assessment, one such enactment of the PDP-led government at the centre that cannot be ignored by the incoming APC government is the practice of zoning or distributing six highest offices in government and the party among the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The zoning formula, adopted by the PDP ruling elite since 1999, is founded on the tenet that the following six most important political offices must at any given time be distributed or rotated among the six geopolitical zones in the country.
These are the offices of President, Vice-President, Senate President, House Speaker, Party Chairman and lastly, though not the least, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF).
It is expected that at the expiration of the life of six consecutive governments to be produced in the country from May 1999, each geopolitical zone in the country will have tasted of or held each of these positions once.
There is also the understanding that when the president comes from any zone in the North, the chairmanship of the party would go to a southern zone that has not previously held the position, and vice versa; ditto for the vice-presidency.
This zoning formula was threatened after the 2011 federal elections due partly because the Southwest had few PDP members in the House of Representatives and the revolt by some Northern legislators over the continuation of the Jonathan presidency at a time the Northwest felt Jonathan should have vacated the position and allowed a candidate of Northwest extraction to run for the presidency under the PDP banner.
As a result, the Southwest lost the opportunity to produce the House Speaker, which was duly allocated to the zone. (I had cause to comment on the matter at the height of the zoning palaver of 2011 in an article entitled ‘Calling the Southeast Political Leaders to Order’, published by The Guardian of June 8, 2011.) The orchestrated denial of the position to the Southwest, as it were, was to cause a lot of disaffection and subsequent resentment against the PDP-led Federal Government in the Southwest.
And this contributed immensely to the defeat of President Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election, especially in the quaint middling Southwest.
I imagine that as things are, the APC would want to give every zone a sense of belonging by allocating one of these six important offices or positions to each zone, as has been virtually ‘institutionalised’ by the PDP.
The question that arises now is: Given the fact that the positions of President, Vice-President and party chairman have been taken up by the Northwest, Southwest and the South-South respectively, how does the party allocate and distribute the three remaining offices of Senate President, House Speaker and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) among the three remaining zones – the Northeast, North-Central and Southeast? For the records, in the current Republic, the Northeast has held the position of Vice-President for eight years under Obasanjo and party chairman under Jonathan; the North-Central has held the position of party chairman for eight years under Obasanjo and Senate President for eight years under Yar’Adua/Jonathan; and the Southeast has held the office of Senate President for eight years under Obasanjo and SGF for four years under Jonathan.
Given this scenario, neither the Southeast nor the North-Central qualifies to hold the office of Senate President in the incoming Buhari government.
The position should therefore go to the Northeast. That leaves us with the two positions of House Speaker and SGF. From the records, neither the North-Central nor the Southeast has held the office of House Speaker in this Republic. Therefore, they both qualify to hold the office under the coming Buhari presidency.
But the Southeast will have only two APC legislators in the incoming House of Representatives. It is germane that where the Southeast has a duly qualified person, it should produce the House Speaker, so that the two arms of the federal legislature are headed by a northerner on the one part and a southerner on the other, while the office of SGF goes to the North-Central which has not held the office before.
However, where there is no qualified person from the Southeast for the office of House Speaker, the Speakership should go to the North-Central for now while the remaining office of SGF reverts to the Southeast for at least another four-year stint, given that the zone produced the current SGF who will be completing his four-year tenure by May 2015.
Implementing this action plan should, in my humble opinion, help reassure all concerned and hence, give the government the scope to concentrate effort on the more arduous tasks that beckon for attention and that should lead to the achievement of social, economic and political advancement of the country. • Nwankwo wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org