A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Jibrin Okutepa, says Nigeria needs a leader that can harness both natural and material resources of the country for greatness.
Rotating the presidency amongst the three major ethnic groups “is an insult to the collective sensibilities of more than 240 other tribes that are parts of the federation of Nigeria.
“Nigeria does not need power shift to any of these so-called majority ethnic nationalities of Igbo, Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba,” Mr Okutepa, a constitutional lawyer, said.
He added: “We have trusted powers in the hands of these so-called three major ethnic nationalities since the Independent of Nigeria from 1st October 1960 till date and all we have and have seen is deteriorating political, social and economic developments.”
He disagreed with the recent position of the Southern Governors Forum on the rotation of Nigeria’s presidency.
Northern, southern governors’ spat over powershift
It would be recalled that a communique was issued at the end of the meeting of the Southern Governors Forum in Lagos on July 5, where it said, “The Forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness, and unanimously agreed that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between southern and northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the south.”
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State read the communique issued at the end of the southern governors’ meeting. They however did not address which sub-region of the South should produce the next president.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) introduced the provision for rotating the presidency between the North and the South in its constitution upon the nation’s return to democracy in 1999.
The concept was introduced by the party which would rule for 16 years before it lost the 2015 presidential election to the All Progressives Congress (APC), in recognition of Nigeria’s plurality of ethnicity.
Although the North would have completed an eight-year presidency at the end of President Muhammadu’s tenure in 2023, governors from the region under the aegis of the Northern Governors Forum, countered their southern counterparts call for return of power to the South in 2023.
Rising from their meeting in Kaduna last week, chairman of the forum, Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, said “the Forum unanimously condemn the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the presidency must go to the South.
“The statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended that the elected President shall:- score the majority votes; score at least 25% of the votes cast in 2/3 States of the Federation.”
‘Nigeria not in need of tribal warlords’
Weighing in on the issue, Mr Okutepa argued in a statement on Tuesday, “Nigeria does not need tribal leaders or tribal warlords,” a reference to the three major ethnic groups.
“Nigeria needs patriotic and committed Nigerian as a leader that leads by examples for others to follow.”
Mr Okutepa said what Nigeria desperately needs is “character shift”, adding “We need attitude shift. We need shift in our ways of doing things.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary, the lawyer decried the country’s stagnated growth.
“The gathering of ethnic power shift talk is wrong. We should gather to look for leaders within us with character and integrity who can take us to good land flowing with milk and honey in all parts of Nigeria.
“Therefore come 2023 let us look for any part of Nigeria and elect leaders who can restore or take Nigeria to the map of good governance and development.
“We should avoid power shift talks to leadership talk. Let us shift power from failure to those who can use power for the development of the greatest good of the greatest numbers of Nigerians in the North, South, East and West.
“We need leaders whose actions and decisions will not encourage agitations for separation and balkanisation of Nigeria.
“We need (a) leader that has capacity to deal with banditry and bandits, kidnappers and all forms of social and political miscreants.
“This is what Nigerians want and not power shift for purposes of continuous sharing of our natural resources into private pockets of those in and around power,” he said.