No doubt, Mallam Mamman Daura has sinned and fallen short of the glory of our democracy. Although his is not a mortal sin, it is serious enough to cause some friction in the polity. But we can still forgive him, if he truly confesses, repents and promises not to go back to that sin again.
Recall that Daura, who is President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, told the BBC Hausa Service recently that competence should be placed above zoning or rotation in the 2023 presidential contest. Many stakeholders and groups, including Igbo and Yoruba socio-cultural groups, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere, respectively, had since replied him in kind. They condemned his standpoint and noted that the next president of Nigeria should come from the South.
That is the only natural and rational thing to do. Since the country’s independence in 1960, the South-East region has been playing on the periphery of political leadership in Nigeria despite being one of the three major ethnic groups. Even when Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the ceremonial President in the First Republic, the real power resided in Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, a northerner. Aguiyi Ironsi was Head of State for only six months after the failed coup of 1966. He was toppled and killed in a countercoup staged mainly by northern soldiers.
Ordinarily, merit and competence should be placed above any other consideration in the search for an egalitarian society. That should also be the standard practice in a civilised, homogenous entity. But ours is still a struggling democracy and since it is a heterogeneous society, there is every need to put some policies in place to achieve political inclusiveness.
That was what happened in 1999 when we kicked off this 4th republic. The country conceded the presidency to the South-West to appease the region over the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election. The unannounced winner of that election, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, was detained instead of being sworn in as the president. He later died in detention. The crisis that trailed that unfortunate national episode forced the then military President, Ibrahim Babangida, to step aside. When democracy returned in 1999, the two major political parties at the time fielded only candidates from the South-West. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo eventually emerged the president.
When Obasanjo completed his second term as president in 2007, the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua from the North-West succeeded him. Death snatched Yar’Adua away in 2010 prompting his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, to take over. Jonathan who is from the South-South lost to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
In deciding the standard-bearers for these presidential contests, rotation had always come to play. In fact, Buhari would not have become president if not for the sentiment that it was the turn of the North. Now that the North has crossed the bridge; now that it is about to complete its term in the presidency, a prominent son of that region is telling us that competence is preferable to rotation.
I smell a rat. Daura is naturally taciturn. For him to voice out his mind this way means that something may be cooking for 2023. The presidency, though, has sanitised itself against his competence virus. It said the views of the elder statesman were personal to him. But then, the erstwhile Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole, also did the same thing against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in the Edo State governorship contest four years ago. He said unprintable things against the pastor politician. Today, Ize-Iyamu is his beloved son in whom he is well pleased.
Truly, if equity still has any meaning in our polity, there shouldn’t be any debate about where the presidential pendulum should swing in 2023. Except the South-East is still being punished for the ‘sin’ of the civil war, no rational being who wants the peace and unity of Nigeria will deny that region the next shot at the presidency.
It is not even certain how Daura and Co. intend to measure this competence because if it is the only criterion, the South-East has it in abundance. The region is never lacking in technocrats, sound academics and intelligent managers of men and resources who can turn around any bad situation for good.
It is ironical that those who lowered the standards in the country have suddenly become the champions of competence. It is also hypocritical to talk about competence in a country that celebrates quota system. In the entrance to our federal unity schools, the North is given a preferential treatment in order to catch up with the rest of the country. If the cut-off mark for a pupil in Anambra State is 139, that of a pupil in Zamfara can be as low as 2.
This marginalisation of the South-East occurs in almost every facet of our national life. In the award of contracts for major infrastructure in the country, the zone is usually ignored. Though the Federal Government claimed 69 projects were ongoing in the region, many federal infrastructure in the zone are dilapidated. In most political and security appointments, South-East is not reckoned with. No officer from that zone heads any of the security agencies in the country, be it army, navy, air force, police, customs, immigration and so on.
In the number of states and local government areas in the country, the zone does not fare better. While other regions have at least six states, it has five.
The South-East is also completely left out with regard to the headship of the three arms of government. President Muhammadu Buhari is from the North-West. Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, is from the North-East. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, is also from the North-East. The President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, is from the North-Central. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, is from the South-West.
The situation equals the inequalities and dichotomies in South Africa during the apartheid era which Alan Paton chronicled in his famous novel, “Cry, the Beloved Country”. Nigeria essentially stands on a tripod – Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. But the Igbo nation is now like a conquered territory. Its survival appears to be at the mercy of certain power brokers. The so-called three Rs – Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction – are nothing but a ruse.
That is why there are agitations by youths of the region for self determination. Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who tried to protest the sorry state of affairs in the region were branded terrorists and proscribed. But the real terrorists who claim to have repented are pampered and rehabilitated.
Each country evolves a peculiar system aimed at bringing peace and stability to her polity. In a plural, complex society like ours, rotation, quota system or federal character is usually entrenched to achieve a situation where no zone feels left out in the scheme of things. Rotation may not be in our constitution, but it is worth being respected by the political parties if we are serious about the unity of Nigeria. We can only discard it if the presidency goes round the six regions of the country. Otherwise, let’s restructure so that each region will develop at its own pace and competence. This will drastically minimise the struggle to occupy the seat of power at the centre.
Re: Reward for ‘repentant’ murderers
A murderer is a murderer and should be punished if caught. The nefarious and unwholesome activities of Boko Haram should not be compromised or swept under the carpet in the name of reward or rehabilitation. How do we know they have genuinely repented? What are the criteria that show that they will not go back again? This group if arrested should face the wrath of the law of the land. The federal government should do the right thing now.
– Bishop Prof. Uzoma Emmanuel, Owerri, Imo State, 08037748145
Dear Casmir, the contrasting and ironical treatments of the victims of terrorists’ activities and that of the terrorists perhaps fulfil the scriptural paradox of God’s profound love for the sinners. In this era of economic hardship, it is becoming increasingly necessary for people to feign repentance from crimes and terrorist activities to attract government attention to secure rehabilitation and integration. Albeit this kid-gloves treatment of repentant terrorists is not without attendant negative impact on the disposition of the youths towards playing the good citizen, it may however not be viewed as anomalous.
– Idongesit Inyang, Uyo, 08084318845.
The arrival of Boko Haram in Nigeria was premeditated to be an alternative to Niger Delta resource control fighters who were granted amnesty. Unfortunately, the supporters of Boko Haram have failed to realize the numerous damages the sect has brought to Nigeria. These crops of repentant murderers can be willing weapons in efforts to Islamise Nigeria through herdsmen
Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
You should focus on those stealing the money meant to rehabilitate North-East starting with six governors stealing internally generated funds with their senators/House of Representatives and House of Assembly members.
– Hon. Ngozika Ihuoma, Owerri, +2348060019005
Dear Casmir, we could be sitting on a keg of gun powder if care is not taken. What we have on ground could be the age-long war tactics used by Moremi of Ife to conquer enemies. She allowed herself to be captured only to study war secrets of the enemies, escape back and launch a reprisal. Government should watch out for true contribution.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu.+2349095385215
Casmir, the war against Boko Haram doesn’t start and end on the battle field. It continues with a psychological battle of the mind with the intention to change the tainted/adulterated minds of the presumably repentant Boko Haramist. Should our disappointment over a supposedly repentant Boko Haram member going back to his vomit make us throw away the baby along with the bath water?
– Mike, Mushin, +2348161114572
It is not a crime for government to rehabilitate repentant crime oriented persons, but my concern is what of those families they infested with death and injuries, what will be their fate?
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Mr Cas, this kind stupid thing can only happen in a country called Nigeria. The ancestors, great grandfathers of Boko Haram are rewarding their children with money, amnesty etc.
– Emma, Wuse 2 Abuja, +2348035585109
Dear Casy, the reward for the so-called repentant murderers had been on since 2016. Buhari gave some Boko Haramists some cash and kind some few years ago worth millions of dollars and the terrorists went back to their camps, used the money to buy arms and ammunition, and went on their killing campaign.