Saturday, December 31, 2005

Rotational Presidency

I have watched with dismay and distraught the polemics and arcane logic the various political leaders and interest groups have put forth to support their clamor for power (specifically the presidency) to be rotated, and for the presidency to remain in the south after 2007.

Let us take a critical look at this. This notion is obviously based on the premise that there are gains that will accrue to the region from which the president originates. Also, it reduces the status and import of the presidency and likens it to a regional or fractional office. It presumes, and perhaps even prescribes that the president holds the interests of his or her region above national interests. The presidency in its true essence prescribes that the president holds national interests above all else. That means the president is supposed to be impartial to the various interest groups and stakeholders who collectively make up the Nigerian body politic over which he or she presides.

If we agree that this is how a true president is supposed to conduct his presidential affairs and we are also all agreed that we want an able president, should it matter where the president comes from?

In a true democracy, people should not be restricted in their choice of candidates by stifling rotational and zoning matrices that are subject to the machinations and pander to the whims of selfish tribal politicians, who can only wrest power by shamelessly whipping up tribal and sectional sentiments. It smacks of insincerity and patent fraud to be seeking a constitutional instrument to entrench fractional regional based rotational presidency.

This formula is sure to breed a sense of entitlement, engender mediocrity and further divide Nigerians along ethnic and regional lines. At this stage in our life as a nation, we should be working towards unity and not disunity. Highlighting our regional and ethnic differences and using these as bases for deciding our leadership only serves to further divide us. There are words in the English language to describe this type of discrimination – Jingoism, Tribalism and Ethnicism are a few.

Nigerian politicians, it is time to shed the shameless garb of tribalism and don the cloak of nationalism. Rather than use the cheap and mean tactics of divide and conquer, be conscientious and embrace nationalism. You are first Nigerians before all else.

In the US, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California, even though he is not a native American, having immigrated to the US as an adult in the 1970s. Hillary Clinton represents New York State in the US senate only after being a New York state resident for two years. She is not a native New Yorker.

Where you come from should not matter in determining who should be a leader, what should matter is the candidate’s integrity and leadership ability. The more important issue to address in the Nigerian polity is how to get rid of corruption and engender able leadership and strive to improve the lot of the populace and not jostling for power through divisive derision and insincerity as the tribalist politicians are currently doing. There should be nothing stopping a Yoruba born Nigerian from being a governor in a Northern Nigeria state, or a native Igbo being a governor in a Western Nigeria state.

Open Letter to President Obasanjo

Dear President Obasanjo,

Well done this past year. You did well with our $18billion debt relief, and all the activities of EFCC. Keep up the good work.

My only advise to you is that you make a definitive statement that you will not be staying in office past 2007 as prescribed by the constitution you swore to uphold. Everybody in the world holds you in high regard because you handed over to a democratically elected government in 1979. This singular act earned you a place forever in history as the first Nigerian leader, and indeed one of the first in all of Africa to voluntarily cede power. For this alone you are put on the same pedestal as great leaders like Mandela and Julius Nyerere.

Please, I beg you, do not taint this laudable status that you enjoy by harkening to the call of good-for-nothing sycophants who's intent for wanting you to sit tight is driven by selfish ends. Especially the call by some thieving low-lifes in the state government houses who debase the honourable office of "governor" by their shameful and debauched acts. They want to perpetuate themselves in office so they can continue to enjoy the protection of that warped kink in our constitution - "immunity for governors."

OBJ, I trust you to do what is right. Great leaders, and your good friends like Jimmy Carter and Andrew Young will be disappointed in you if you sit tight. Besides, you will be put in the same category as rogue leaders like Mobutu and Abacha if you chose to sit tight. This will be a betrayal to many of your ardent supporters.

Do the right thing. Make a definitive statement to put those seeking your downfall to shame.


Concerned Nigerian