By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
Mamman Daura is powerful. His uncle is the president. So when he talks we must listen. And we must listen because the wife of the president once told us, in many words and rumpled face, that Mamman Daura had an enviable influence on the president.
That was why when Mamman came out from backstage to say that we should discard power rotation and chose the next president on merit many were agitated.
If Mamman Daura were another Buba Galadimma or one other old man from the Northern Elders Forum, his musings would have caused no consternation. But was Mamman speaking for his taciturn nephew?
Only time will tell. But before it does, it’s important to remind Mamman that the only reason power rotation was adopted was to guarantee the participation of all sections of the country at the highest level of government.
Before power rotation became a convention, only northern Muslims and a strange man-like Abiola could look at the demographics and feel confident of winning the presidency.
Mamman Daura wants power rotation jettisoned because it denies the nation competence where it matters most. He actually said that power rotation had failed. So left to Mamman the nation should be run like the Super eagles where only the best play even if they are all from one womb.
The only difference is that these other political bests will be selected, not by a sound technical adviser, but by millions of hungry and poorly educated folks.
Mamman Daura’s idea, despite the shortcomings of a democratic leadership selection process mediated by millions of hungry illiterate folks, thuggery and corruption, is not bad. Mamman must be frustrated too.
This country has had more of its fair share of bad leaders. And if the country prioritized merit, and condemned mediocrity into the dustbin, it could redeem itself.
The only problem, however, is that Mamman is calling us out to play monkey post. In football, monkey post is played on a tiny fraction of the pitch and with a goal post just about 3 feet wide.
Monkey-post is played when either space or numbers needed to play the full pitch is lacking. Why is uncle Mamman canvassing for a monkey-post game?
Let’s play the game, play full pitch.
Nigeria is a country where Quota system and Federal character have had their knees on the neck of merit for decades. The federal government would conduct examinations for admissions into its colleges, and deny a child from Delta admission while admitting children from some states who have scored less than one third the score of the denied Delta child.
The discrimination against merit happens everywhere. In the military, the spaces for officer training are allocated by state quota, and not by scores. Those who scored poorly are chosen and those who scored highly are left out. Even at the level of becoming army generals, state of origin affects promotions.
I agree with Uncle Mamman, I see where he is coming from. He now wants competence and merit.
But we must not do things ‘half-half’ and half-heartedly. We must dislodge mediocrity and sectional sentiments through and through. So we must uproot Quota System ad Federal Character first, and immediately.
Yes, Mamman actually wants us to run this country like it were the Super Eagles. So that we can play our best players even if they are from one family and let only the certified best run the Army and the Customs.
I agree with him. Once we are on that path of justice and merit then Zamfara can keep its Diamond and Bayelsa its oil. Then the Federal Institutions can close there eyes and chose students with best scores and fill up all the spaces even if they are from one village.
If we start being One Nigeria today, nobody would bother when we choose to be no-more-zoning One Nigeria in 2023.
It’s true Uncle Mamman, we have to let meritocracy breathe. But it cannot breathe in that tiny 2023 monkey post you are pitching. Let the game begin today and let it begin by a thoroughgoing constitutional amendment. For how long will Quota System, Federal Character and Zoning last?
We can do something to cushion the shock. Since many are afraid of domination, let’s ‘kukuma’ devolve power to the regions. In the regions, surrounded by kinsmen and political kindred spirits, folks would have no trouble accepting the rule of merit.
And those who fear they might never occupy the seat of president will have too much power at home to bother with the effigy, the plumed presidency, at the centre.
But Uncle Mamman, until we begin to dislodge the knee of quota system and federal character from the neck of meritocracy, any talk about stopping power rotation will be deceitful. My people have a funny way of telling a man not to mess with their heads. They simply remind the man that human beings are not cows: mmadu aburo efi.
In 2023, power has to shift South. And when it comes south, it has to go to the part of the south yet to be accommodated in the rotation equation that began in 1999.
But if scales have fallen off the eyes of Nigeria, and we are now earnestly desirous of becoming One nation, then let’s begin in 2020, by discarding quota system and federal character, devolving power to the regions and allowing resource control. That’s how to play full pitch Meritocracy.
Otherwise, in 2023, power has to go south, because mmadu aburo efi !