Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has lent credence to the position of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura on rotational presidency, saying the nation will be better off if merit is allowed to drive the political processes.
Daura had in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service implored Nigerians to go for competence instead of zoning in determining the next president in 2023.
Aligning with Daura’s stance, Governor Uzonimma advised Nigerian youths to champion only those courses that will promote national unity and peace.
He spoke yesterday in Owerri when he received in audience a coalition of ethnic nationality youth leaders who paid a courtesy visit.
Responding to the address by the leader of the coalition, Muhammad Danlami, on rotational presidency and the challenge of nation building, Uzodimma enjoined the group to shun politics of tribal sentiment and ethnic coloration which tend to pitch every Nigerian against each other.
He noted that what Nigeria needs most is a strong and united country where diversity in culture and ethnicity is a source of strength not division.
The governor said, “I will rather see a situation where merit is allowed to drive the process of determining who occupies a public office in the county rather than where you come from. I think merit should drive the political process because the nation will be better off for it.
“We must use our diversity to strengthen national unity not to divide the nation. We should find unity in our diversity by believing in each other”.
He reminded the youth leaders drawn from Igbo (Ohaneze), Arewa the (Hausas/ Fulani), Oduduwa (Yoruba) Idoma (Benue), Ijaw (Bayelsa), and other parts of the country of the challenges the country faced in the recent past which threatened the unity and sovereignty of her existence.
He thanked President Muhammad Buhari for exhibiting courage and competence in handling all the challenges, even as he charged the youths to always support the federal government under Buhari who he described as the most youth-friendly president so far in the country.
The governor said in spite of all challenges, President Buhari has given the youths a sense of belonging through several forms of empowerments such as N-Power, Employment, Political Appointments, Agric Loan, Skills and youth fund initiative.
He however assured that whatever was happening in Nigeria was not new as many countries have experienced the same in the past and still came out stronger.
He assured that Nigeria will definitely win the war against whatever challenges the country is facing now and emerge stronger, warning however that it would not be possible without Nigerian Youths partnering with the government in power.
Uzodimma reminded the youths that as leaders of tomorrow, if they got it right, Nigeria will get it right but if they miss the track the country has also missed the track.
He also advised them against allowing themselves to be used by politicians and mischief-makers as political thugs to destroy the nation they are bound to inherit and lead in the future.
He lauded the youths for the bold initiative of forming a united, cross-cultural and non-ethnic nationality association that cuts across the six political zones of the federation solely for the purpose of enhancing peace and national unity.
Earlier in their address, the national chairman/leader of the delegation, Danlami had explained that the organisation was formed to foster and promote peace and unity among the existing ethnic nationality in the country and to encourage inter-cultural and religious tolerance as well as to support the programmes and policies of the government for national development.
Zoning Died Since 1999 – Ex-ACF Scribe
In the same vein, the immediate past secretary-general of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr Anthony Sani, has said that rotational presidency does not exist in the country because it died since 1999.
According to Sani, the only national consensus on zoning arrangement took place in 1999 when all political parties fielded candidates from the South West, and such arrangement died immediately after the election.
Insisting that President Buhari is not a product of zoning, he said, “When some people posit that President Buhari is a product of politics of identity symbolized by rotation or zoning of the post of president between the North and the South, I wonder the basis of such assertion.
“The annulment of the election of June 12, 1993 made some sections of the country to morally blackmail the nation into conceding the president to the South West in 1999. That was why General Olusegun Obasanjo was preferred over Dr Alex Ekwueme during the PDP primaries in Jos, and that also caused Chief Olu Falae to be the candidate for APP for the 1999 elections that threw up Obasanjo as president.
“The national consensus was actually brokered by the military which annulled the elections of June 12, 1993 in order to make up for the injustice meted to the South West by the annulment and death of Chief Abiola. In 2003, General Muhammadu Buhari from the North contested with President Obasanjo from the South. That could not possibly happen if there was national consensus that was binding on the political parties”.
Sani also recalled that in 2007 Buhari and the late Umaru Yar’Adua were from the North.
This, according to him, was precisely because President Obasanjo foisted the later on the PDP in the hope of enthroning the politics of rotation between the North and the South.
He continued: “When President Yar’Adua passed on in 2010 and
President Jonathan completed the tenure of the combined ticket in 2011, it was expected that any politics of rotation between the North and the South would persuade President Jonathan from contesting for the president, but he contested against Buhari from the North in 2011, and still repeated the same in 2015.
“In 2019, of the over 75 presidential candidates, about 70 were southerners and only about six were northerners. If there was any national consensus on politics of identity called rotation of president between the North and the South that was binding
on the political parties, such breaches of the letter and spirit of the rotation or zoning would not arise”.
Sani further stressed that the foregoing was a testament to the fact of history that President Buhari was not a product of politics of rotation or zoning of the post of president between the North and the South.