Lagos – Emerging events since after the February 23 presidential poll which returned incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari “duly elected” has once again set the nation on edge regarding the balancing act enshrined in the 1999 constitution. The relevant section of the constitution on federal character said:
“The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or any of its agencies. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: section 14 subsection (3)”
This clause has been the reason the fourth Republic democracy has been wobbling on in spite of the challenges Nigeria’s heterogeneous mix has thrown on its way. On the return to democratic rule in 1999, the Presidency naturally went Southwest Nigeria because among the political elite, it was the most expedient thing to do since the military junta led by late Sani Abacha bungled the 1993 general election that produced a Southwestern politician, Chief Moshood Abiola, and events afterwards were never palatable for Nigeria. Since then the presidency had been rotating among the six major political zones in the country, a convenient administrative ‘invisible structure’ around which key political offices in the country are allocated.
President Buhari’s “re-election” after the February 23 polls would be his second tenure, if the Presidential election Tribunal upholds his re-election. Even at that, some people, even up North where Buhari’s main challenger, former Vice president Atiku Abubakar hails from, believed that it was Atiku from North Central that ought to be president. In fact it was in that spirit that the PDP presidential candidate has insisted that he would serve only one term to ensure that the rotation clause in all the political parties is maintained. He said, “If I am elected as the president in 2019, I give an undertaking that I would only do one term.
“Having said that let me remind Nigerians that Buhari also gave such an undertaking in 2011, but he is not living up to it today. My own case will be different. I am prepared to sign an undertaking to do only one term. “I am not Muhammadu Buhari. I do not make promises I cannot keep. I am assuring Nigerians that I will keep this promise. I am making it out here in the open.” But the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari never nursed the intention of doing one term, never vouched it, and so far, his actions never showed, even before election that he regarded anything like power rotation, one term rotation or any other compromise as politicians before had adopted as a matter of national interest. Thus little wonder many were not surprised at his rampant constitutional infractions and winner-takes-all approach to politics.
It is generally believed that Nigeria is made up of three main political tripod: East, West, and north. But the country’s political process has yielded the zoning formulae called “zoning” originating from the six zonal structures. Yet it has not diminished the Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba tripod. As it is today, the executive arm is loaded by the North which also has the largest number of ministers, aides and civil servants in the federal bureaucracy. The Northern part of the country too, still dominate headship of the national security architecture: the presidency, the National Security Council, the Armed forces, the DSS, the Customs, the Police, and even the civil Defense corps.
The legislative arm, judging by the outcome of the just concluded NASS elections and the likely majority membership of the ruling All Progressive Congress(APC) at both chambers of the NASS, it seems all clear too that the Northern part of the country would also have to head the two chambers of the parliament. Apart from Lagos APC (Surulere Central) Representative, Hon. Gbajabiamila who has thrown up his head for the speakership race, there seems to be no other person both in the South West, South East or South-South keen on contesting for the speakership, even as Mrs. Nkiru Onyejiocha(SE) and Abdulrazak Namdas’(NC) efforts to grab the seat seems running out of oxygen.
In the Senate, it also seems most probable that the position of the senate president in the ninth NASS would be going North.Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has made public his intention to vie for the office of Senate President when the ninth National Assembly is inaugurated in June saying the upper legislative chamber will be more vibrant under his leadership.Lawan, (APC Yobe North-East) who has been in the federal legislature since 1999, made this known in Abuja late last month while addressing newsmen in the company of 10 other Senators-elect. His optimism at clinching the position seems not attracting any opposition as his party, especially the senators-elect look set to endorse him. The position of Deputy Senate President appears for now the only legislative position any politician from the South East has a strong point to contend for.
Justifying why the position of Deputy Presidency of the Senate should go South East,two senators elected from the zone maintains that Igbo deserved to be elected
as deputy Senate President of the Ninth Senate in June.The lawmakers-elect, Orji Uzor Kalu and Uche Ekwunife, have been unrelenting in pushing through this cause,but it appears not yet a popular agenda before the senators-elect. As if to give more vent to this, last week a group of political rights agitators obviously sponsored by APC political leaders in the South East zone instituted a suit in which they are seeking reversal of the current APC zoning formulae because it obviously contradicts the tenets of the constitution of “unit United Nigeria”.
A fresh suit filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja Thursday is seeking an order upturning the zoning arrangement of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the principal officers of the soon-to-be proclaimed ninth National Assembly.
The suit filed by a group, Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, and a member of the APC, Kenneth Uzochukwu, described the party’s zoning arrangement, which they claimed excluded the South-east geo-political zone as “unconstitutional, unjust, discriminatory and clannish.”
The APC, which constitutes the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, had adopted Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State in the North-east zone as its candidate for the position of the Senate president; and Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos State in the South-west zone as speaker.
The plaintiffs noted in their suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/477/2019, that the party had also zoned the position of the Deputy Senate President to South-south; and that of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives to North-central.
They also noted that with President Muhammadu Buhari from the North-west; the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo from the South-west; and the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad from the North-east, it implies that the South-east zone has been totally excluded from “the political arithmetic of Nigeria.”
They contended, through their lawyer, Mr. Kingdom Nnamdi, that this “breaches the express provisions, spirit and tenor of sections 14 (3) and (4) and 244 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended); and offends the Federal Character Principle of Nigeria”.
The APC, the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission were joined in the suit as the first, second and third defendants, respectively.
order upturning the zoning arrangement of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the principal officers of the soon-to-be proclaimed ninth National Assembly.