Nigerian politicians have a penchant for misusing the English language. For example when they attach the appellation “honorable” to their name, you can be rest assured that integrity is not one of their main character traits. When they are referred to as “leader”, it isn’t because they have won any election or have legions of followers, but rather because they have money to spend! Those who actually studied geography in secondary school will know full-well that there is no point on the compass known as “South-South”. Why no North–North?
Their latest abuse of English is the talk about “rotating” the Presidency between North and South. Anyone familiar with the most elementary principles of physics will understand that it simply isn’t possible to “rotate” between two points, only to “alternate”, so power cannot “rotate” between North and South. Rotation requires a minimum of three points. Indeed, if the only thing important is rotation, then by definition, if power moves from the North West to the North East, or South West to South East, it has in effect rotated.
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What Nigerian politicians should be talking about is rotation within alternation. That is to say that even when power alternates between North and South, it should then rotate to ensure all three component parts of North and South gain access to the highest office. This is important not only because the North East and South East have been kept out of the equation but also because a Nigerian President can do whatever he likes and get away with it.
The purpose of the search for political power is supposed to be in order to produce outcomes which will be beneficial to the people, yet in Nigeria the output of political power is misery and despair for those not favoured by the President.
There is agitation for the Presidency to remain in the North in spite of the fact that a Northerner has been in office since 2015 and his misrule has led to a comatose economy, a despondent citizenry, nepotism and parochialism, breakdown of law and order, weakened state institutions and the greatest number of children out of school in any nation in the world! He has proved beyond doubt that a Nigerian President can allow social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals to run down while educating his children in proper schools overseas and using public funds to receive foreign medical treatment. In truth, almost everyone has given up on the current administration which has serially exhibited its unwillingness or inability to solve the nation’s problems. Nigerians are eagerly looking forward to 2023 as the year they may get a government which is actually capable of doing good. One would have thought that bearing all the ongoing problems in mind, the talk should be about what policies the incoming President should adopt to end insecurity, reboot the economy, repair dilapidated social infrastructure, foster nationalism, and bring about a more just and fair society. Alas our politicians are less concerned about what he should do than where he must come from.
To paraphrase an article by Achike Chude, the way Northern politicians talk about their religion, you would think that spiritual matters and thoughts of the after-life would be more important to them than the search for power. The way they continuously refer to their ethnic stock and religious identity, you would think they will do everything to protect their people. However, all evidence points to the fact that they are neither interested in the tenets of their faith, nor in the welfare of their people.
All available evidence points to the fact that since the heydays of the Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, those demanding retention of political power in the North aren’t concerned with wanting to better the lot of their people. They are looking for the path to untold riches because once on power their word becomes law.
The whole idea of rotating or alternating presidency is because Nigeria isn’t a unified nation and every President has proved to be nothing more than a tribal leader. The insistence that different peoples must remain together no matter the consequences, despite their differing aspirations, is illogical. The fact is that the North and South have different ideas of how the nation should develop which impacts negatively upon unity. Unity is not a must. Nigeria is “united” in name only. Separation can be an avenue for healthy competition and development as in the case of Singapore and Malaysia.
History is replete with nations that split peacefully to ensure development and become successful. In 1830, Belgium split from the Netherlands. In 1965, Singapore split from Malaysia. In 1905, Norway split from Sweden. In 1947, the British India Dominion split into India and Pakistan. In 1992, Czechoslovakia split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
In Nigeria, there was originally a healthy competitive development amongst the original component parts of the true federation with each making useful progress. This is no longer the case under military imposed unitary democracy. As far as the next election, there is indeed every reason why people should be more concerned about where the next President comes from than whatever he promises to do for the nation. The current President failed to live up to his promises and was re-elected, so what has proved to be important is not what you do for the nation but what you do for your region and ethnic stock. There is no doubt that Nigeria is a structurally flawed, crisis-prone artificial contraption. This is why if the nation is to remain one, it is vital that power alternating between North and South and rotating between their three component parts must be placed in the Constitution.