BY LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU
THE Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government, yesterday, recommended that the presidency and governorship should be rotated among the geo-political zones and senatorial zones respectively and the provision should be enshrined in the electoral law and constitution of political parties.
The recommendation came after a robust but heated debate by members. While backing rotation, Senator Femi Okurounmu, from the South-West delegate stunned members of his committee, when he claimed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not win the 1999 Presidential election.
Okuroumu, who hails from the same Ogun State as Obasanjo, maintained that Obasanjo’s emergence as president was planned and executed by the powers-that-be at the time to assuage growing tension occasioned by the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election presumably won by late Chief Moshood Abiola.
“Obasanjo did not win the election; he was anointed by the powers-that-be to pacify the South-West over the annulment of June 12 election,” he said while backing the rotational principle, advancing that the system would give every zone the opportunity to produce president.
To realise the objective, Okuroumu, who chaired the Presidential Advisory Committee on the conference, suggested that the new principle should be embedded in the Electoral Act and in the constitutions of the various political parties.
Corroborating Okuroumu, another member of the committee representing Federal Government, Senator Nimi Amange, said: “Obasanjo was not the best candidate in the 1999 contest, but Nigerians decided to give it to South-West for what happened to Chief Moshood Abiola. Nigeria has never had the best as its president. Our greatest problem is fear and suspicion and that is why we want everything to be in the constitution. If we want zoning, we should zone the presidency to all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria so that all of them will enjoy the presidency.”
Dr. Philips Salawu, former deputy governor of Kogi State also supported the zoning principle and further proposed that the system should be practiced at the centre, states and local government levels.
“The presidency should alternate between North and South among the six geo political zones. It should also be included in the constitution. If you can entrench it in the constitution, the quest for state creation would not be necessary.”
On his part, Ambassador Lawrence Agubuzu (South-East) said that “it should be based on geo-political zones since it has been used to determine our sharing formula.
He said that South East and North East had been marginalized in terms of producing the president and urged delegates to support the South-East zone to produce the president in 2019, saying it would save the country of unnecessary tension.
Also General Jonathan Temlong (Federal Government) shared the sentiment of rotation, saying it would give all zones the opportunity to occupy the highest political office in Nigeria.
“It has to be institutionalized. We also ask the parties to include zoning in their constitutions as it affects all levels of government. It should be given legal backing and entrenched in the electoral law,” he said.
Rotation should be left to the parties – Ladan
Senator Ladan (North-West) said that rotation should be left to the parties and should not be a constitutional issue because “it will create a very serious problem if included in the constitution. We must do something that will be good for the future of this country. A leader must be elected on the basis of acceptability.”
Lending his voice also, Mr. Yinka Odumakin (South-West) said that “there is no part of the country that cannot have a qualified person. The office should rotate among the zones in the country.”
Eventually, the committee, via a majority vote, agreed that the matter should be in the Electoral Act and in the constitution of political parties.
Speaking to Vanguard, Professor Anya O. Anya (Federal Government delegate) said that it was proper to locate the matter in the Electoral Law and the constitution of political parties.
“You cannot divorce the rotational principle from the structure. For example, we are now expecting a unicameral legislature in which the membership will be drawn on two criteria. Those that go there on the basis of equality of all states which will be 50 percent of the membership and those that will go there on the basis of population and then of course at the party level, in selecting their candidates, they should make allowance for minority interests like the physically challenged, the women and the youths. That is where we are.