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Still on Mamman Daura and the national question


Philip Ajeh

SIR: A lot has already been said about the candid and patriotic views of Alhaji Mamman Daura as Nigeria struggles to overcome divisive tendencies that have characterized the country’s politics.  The country owes goodwill and thanks to this elder statesman for his candid suggestion as the country moves gradually to 2023 presidential elections and beyond.

Let me quote his statement that has attracted outright condemnation for the benefits of those who were not opportune to read it as follows: “Rotation has been done once, twice and three times; it is important that this nation should be united as one. The most qualified and competent should be elected and not someone who comes from a particular zone”.

As at 1914, the Northern and Southern Protectorates were abolished making the Nigerian colonial administration to stand on a tripod of three regions, viz, the northern, western and eastern regions during colonial rule which consolidated the Nigerian federal model in 1939 by giving some autonomy to the regions in line with federal principles. This was the political structure of Nigeria up to independence in 1960 which guaranteed stability and unity in the administration of the country despite the grievances from the minority elements that abound in all the regions.

The federal structure was destroyed with the incursion of the military into Nigerian politics, first as messiahs and later as a burden, from 1966. The military introduced the unitary system by abolishing the federal model first, and thereafter balkanized the country into states and local government areas severally. Given the fact that the states and local governments were created by the military and not the people, the command structure of military has remained one of major feature and weakness of federal model up to now. Governors and local government chairmen have to go-cap-in-hand every month for stipends or hand outs from the central government contrary to federal expectations.

With the return to democratic governance concerted efforts have been made, starting from the Second Republic when the issue of rotation was introduced. In all attempts, the interests of the minority elements are never taken into consideration in the political equation of the country. Whenever the issue of rotation comes up, it means rotation between the three major tribes of Hausa, Yoruba and the Igbo only as if the minority elements are not entitled to govern this country. Some have argued that Dr Goodluck Jonathan, a minority, has ruled this country but they forgot that his chance to rule was a mere act of providence.

It is in this context that one can see clearly the wisdom behind Mamman Daura’s opinion where ‘the most qualified and competent should be elected and not someone who comes from a particular zone’. This view is very important as this country is blessed with qualified and competent people from all the zones including the minority zones of North-central and South-south. His opinion is in line with the federal model as practiced in other countries with particular reference to the American model that Nigeria is copying. In America, presidency is determined by qualification and competence and not by any particular zone or tribe and that was how Barrack Obama became the president of that country.

The continuous reference to North and South in the political equation of Nigeria is not only outdated but embarrassing. The Northern and Southern Protectorates were amalgamated in 1914. To continue to refer to something that was dead long time ago is very unfortunate and unbecoming of the so-called giant of Africa.

The issue of qualification is very crucial and it requires urgent constitutional amendment. At the moment the qualification for the president is just school leaving certificate or WAEC showing how unserious the country has become.

I want to suggest that the minimum qualifications for the president, governors and legislators at all levels must be first degree or its equivalent. As for competence, the persons aspiring into any of these offices must show evidence of good character and working experience up to position of a director or its equivalent in either the public or private sector.

  • Dr Philip Ajeh, Nasarawa State University, Keffi.


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