The Coalition for Nigeria (CN) says it is in order for President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura, as an elder statesman, to speak on the future of Nigeria.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, Patriot Sabo Ode, President of the Coalition expressed total support for the veteran journalist’s vision for a new Nigeria.
Daura had in a recent interview aired by BBC Hausa Service dismissed the issue of zoning and rotation of the nation’s presidency.
He had argued that competence, not geography, should determine the next president of Nigeria in 2023, stressing that: “This turn-by-turn was done once, twice, and three times. It is better for this country to be one it should be for the most competent person and not for someone who comes from somewhere”.
And according to CN, the outrage that trailed Daura’s assertion is “unnecessary due to the noble and patriotic goal it is capable of achieving for the country”.
The group added that Daura’s preference for competence over parochial considerations should be applauded, especially as he did not in any way favour any region or zone.
The Coalition, however, advised the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and others that is high time the country moves away from parochial sentiments and submit to the dynamics of modern time.
The group further said it is 100 per cent behind Daura in his quest to ensure that qualitative and best form of leaders for the country emerge in 2023 and beyond.
Read the full statement below:
Gentlemen of the press, we are delighted to address you on a matter that has recently stirred unnecessary controversy on the basis of the misinterpretation given to it.
We are of the view that the controversy evoked by the statement from one our most respected elder statesman in the country, Malam Mamman Daura, is not only misplaced but unnecessary due to the noble and patriotic goal it is capable of achieving for the country.
Besides, it is our considered opinion that if the context of the statement made by Malam Daura can be viewed objectively and without sentiments, the nation would be spared all the uproar and set on the right path to true and quality leadership.
Malam Mamman Daura, who is known to be one of the closest persons to President Muhammadu Buhari, had on Tuesday, stated in the course of an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, that competence, not geography should determine the next president of Nigeria in 2023 and beyond.
He was quoted to have said that, “This turn-by-turn (presidency), it was done once, it was done twice, and it was done thrice… It is better for this country to be one. It should be for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere.”
This statement if viewed objectively implies that since Nigerians have tried the rotational presidency three times already, it would be better to go for the most qualified candidate in 2023 irrespective of whether he comes from the North or the South.
But this trite and wise statement has however been given various interpretations by sections of the country, who view it as an attempt by the North to deny other regions in the country the opportunity to have a shot at the presidency as the eight-year tenure of the current administration ends in 2023.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, for instance, condemned the call by Malam Daura, saying it is the turn of the South, particularly the Southeast, to produce the president in 2023.
Ohaneze in its reaction said Mr Daura’s statement was self-serving and views it as part of a plot to deny the Sout, and in particular the Southeast, the Presidency.
Said Ohanaeze, “They ganged up to push President Jonathan aside because they believed it was the turn of the North to produce the President”.
“Having benefited enormously from his nephew being the President, he now wants it jettisoned because it is the turn of the South”.
The organization then warned that equity should not be sacrificed on the altar of parochialism since it was the rotation sentiment that produced the present incumbent.
It said, “Talking about competence or most qualified, was President Buhari the most qualified Nigerian when he ascended the presidency? Has he proved to be the most competent? Are the service chiefs the most competent among their colleagues to warrant they’re being retained beyond their tenure?”
“Now that it is the turn of the South, precisely South East, he is mouthing most qualified and competent. Equity is a constant flagship for peace and good governance. Without it, there will be continued agitation and crisis.”
The Afenifere on its part said the Daura’s interview had exposed the deceit of the North and its selfish agenda.
The group said, “It is amusing to see those, who were singing zoning or tearing down of Nigeria before 2015, now becoming the apostles of competence after taking eight years. This is the most selfish orchestra.
The Niger Delta socio-cultural group, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) also condemned Daura’s position and described Daura’s statement as not only insensitive but ‘most unfortunate and unarguably capable of creating unnecessary tension in the country.’
Other groups and individuals also spoke in a similar vein with most latching high on emotions while leaving the substance of the issue addressed by Malam Daura.
The crux of the matter
It is at this juncture that we wish to put in proper perspective, the issue raised by Malam Daura and to situate the statement in its proper context.
First and foremost, Malam Daura did not say any region should be favoured for the presidency in 2023.
His comment did not in any way show favour to any region or zone, neither did he exclude any region or zone as not being competent to provide credible leadership for the country in 2023 and beyond.
He only sought to emphasise the merit of competence over parochial considerations.
What his statement implies is that if the best candidate happens to be from any zone in the country, whether the person is from the South-south, Northeast, Southeast, Northcentral, Southwest or Northwest, that person should automatically qualify to be president of Nigeria.
This means that if competence is lacking in any of the candidates from any zone including the North where Daura hails from, then that persons should not be given the chance to rule Nigeria.
How that implies that he is favouring the North beats one’s imagination as nowhere was that implied in the statement.
Another thing is that Malam Daura’s statement seeks to place merit above all other considerations for the leadership recruitment process in Nigeria which is what all well-meaning Nigerians have been hankering on as opposed to a situation where sentiments are allowed to be the overall guiding principle.
Addressing some of the concerns
Having said that, it is pertinent to address some of the issues raised by these groups and individuals.
To say that Malam Daura is raising the issue now because the North would be expected to leave power in 2023 is akin to trying to railroad other Nigerians into believing there was an agreement entered into for some zones not to contest in 2023.
In 2015 as well as 2019, political parties fielded candidates from different zones in the country without exclusion. This presupposes that all qualified Nigerians were eligible to contest irrespective of the zones they hail from hence what would be the basis to assume that a particular should be excluded in subsequent elections?
Again, to say that President Muhammadu Buhari is a product of zoning is one of the cheapest lies anyone can weave in contemporary history.
Recall that when Buhari declared his intention to run as Nigeria’s President in 2001, it was on the platform of the ANPP and the party at that time had not provisioned for zoning in its Constitution.
The APP which later became ANPP, if you will recall, had given its ticket to Olu Falae in the 1999 election and Falae was expected to pick the form in the subsequent election but did not show up.
Rather, it was people like Rochas Okorocha, Harry Kande etc that contested in the primary of the party with Buhari.
The fact that the other aspirants were from other zones in the country showed that the party never gave zoning any primacy but allowed each individual to run on merit.
This had been the principal Buhari stood for as he consistently ran for elections irrespective of the perception in the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of where the presidency was zoned to.
This shows that President Buhari has been strong believer incompetence and merit from the beginning and had always used himself as an example to encourage others.
The slant that going on merit is meant to deny the Southeast a chance at the presidency is an insult on the enterprising spirit of the average southeasterner who prefers to work hard for what he desires rather than beg to be given.
It is therefore surprising that Ohanaeze Ndi’Igbo, which should be at the forefront for enthroning hard work and enterprise should be the one positioning the region as waiting for hand out.
The truth is that, at no time did other Nigerian decide that the presidency should go to a particular zone.
In 2015, then President Jonathan contested with Buhari for the presidency on different platforms of political parties.
Then, we did not hear the Ohanaeze saying Jonathan should pull out of the race since the perception is that the North should have it.
If Jonathan had won in 2015, we wonder whose turn it would have been in 2019 as there are at least three other zones in the North and two others in the South that might be interested.
It is surprising that in the 21st century that any right-thinking person should prefer sectional privileges to merit when we should all be striving for the best.
Bringing the issue of the service chiefs or others who are appointees of the President is neither here nor there as these people were chosen at the discretion of the President and we believe that Ohanaeze which is a socio-cultural organisation, lacks the necessary credential to judge whether they’re the best for their fields or not.
It is high time the country moves away from parochial sentiments and submit to the dynamics of modern time which trumps competence over sectional considerations.
What is required to achieve that is for the parties to come up with high standards for the selection of their candidates so as to appeal to the electorate.
This we believe is the way forward if the country is to get it right in its quest for good leadership.
We, therefore, support Mamman Daura 100 per cent in his quest to ensure the qualitative and best form of leaders for the country in 2023 and beyond.
This genuine and patriotic desire for the country should be commended by all well-meaning Nigerians.