Collegiate Presidency And National Harmony | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

COLUMNIST

Collegiate Presidency And National Harmony

henry-boyo2
Posted: Jun 16, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

 

BY HENRY BOYO

There can be no end in the foreseeable future to a do-or-die fight to be President of our nation.  The unbridled struggle for the position of top dog is seemingly motivated by the prospect of exercising almost absolute power over our lives and our nation’s resources, particularly the oil proceeds from the Niger Delta. Indeed, if income derived from oil is removed from the federal purse, the federation may have to survive on less than 30% of annual budgets. Furthermore, the underbelly of the arbitrarily created 36 States and 774 local governments would also be exposed, as most of them would literarily collapse without, what some people have described as ‘blood money’ from the Niger Delta.

“However, if only modest resources and power devolved to the centre for the exercise of its exclusive responsibilities, there would probably be less attraction to capture the Presidency at any cost for one’s political club”.

“Our political godfathers, in their wisdom, attempted to bring some sanity to the acrimony and insecurity generated by the struggle for the lucrative centre, with rotation of the presidency along North and South axis or less rigidly, amongst six generally accepted geopolitical zones.  However, this solution has not brought with it much comfort because the current constitutional provision for a maximum of two – four year terms also means that each geopolitical zone would produce a president every 48 years (that is, assuming that each zone’s president controls the treasury for eight years)”.

 

“In the above political dilemma, particularly where the plunder of resources takes precedence over service and wealth creation, Nigerians have become victims of the greed of a parasitic political class – invariably championed by both brazen and veiled autocratic leadership for over four decades. Indeed, since the greatest threat to our contrived democracy is dictatorship, if peace must prevail, our constitution should ensure that the best presidential materials from each geopolitical zone, at any one time, have unfettered access to contest for and attain the highest post in the land. Furthermore, our constitution should also guarantee that no one person remains in power long enough to become as formidable as to successfully engineer term elongation and perpetuate a dictatorship!

“The National Assembly, demonstrated great courage in throwing out Obasanjo’s third term bid, and they appropriately received the commendation of all patriots; however, discerning Nigerians have warned against complacency. Clearly, if poverty deepens and injustice and disrespect for the rule of law by the executive arms of government remain unchecked, we can still end up with a National Assembly, made up of surrogates, as witnessed in some states, vis-à-vis the godfather syndrome, in the recent past.  Ultimately, we would transmute to a constitutional dictatorship and our people would tumble into real bondage, as the dark days of insecurity, instability and absolute rule would be with us once again!

“So, how can we prevent such an ugly scenario in our nation’s political life and reduce the vicious grip of irrepressible ethnic/regional aspirations for Presidency? Indeed, some eminent Nigerians have argued that the first requirement for a just, stable and egalitarian nation should be the adoption of a truly fiscal, federal constitution, where the centre devolves more of its powers to the states/regions, as the engines of growth, so that the states/regions can freely exploit their internal human and mineral resources and pay appropriate dues to the centre.  It is argued that such a structure would motivate each region to look inwards and develop its natural resources endowment to the best of their ability, rather than wait for monthly handouts from government. Thus, all regions would become actively engaged in putting their citizens to work and commercially exploit their natural resources to increase wealth and improve social welfare”.

 

“Additionally, we may also consider a six-year collegiate presidency to douse tension and attrition created by the usual battles to install an all powerful ‘one man’ presidency, as well as the incessant clamour and grandstanding by each geopolitical group for their turn, when an incumbent’s tenure ends. Under such arrangement, each political party would field a team, comprising six candidates selected from each of the six geopolitical zones, for the post of President, to jointly implement each party’s manifesto.  Thus, every member of a victorious collegiate will serve as president for only one year, while the other five members of the collegiate would serve as vice presidents with direct oversight responsibilities for a discrete set of ministries and/or parastals in the same administration. Similarly, the five Vice Presidents would also be rotated annually from one set of ministries to the other, so that in a six-year term, each member of the collegiate would have served for a year in every segment of federal administration with one year as defacto President”.

“Consequently, it will become impossible for one person to consolidate and hold on to the seat of power, long enough to constitute a dictatorship; in such political ambience, Nigerians can afford to sleep comfortably with both eyes closed!  Furthermore, the abiding desire of geopolitical groups to see their own person, up there, would be realized as each zone would perpetually have a member in the collegiate presidency in every government. Nigerians would also be able to enjoy the advantage of the contribution of more eminently qualified and socially committed presidential materials in each six-year term of office.  With such a model, the collegiate presidency would play as a team of stars to achieve their individual party’s declared manifesto rather than the rule of a lone star President for 4 years, as is presently the case”.

“At the State and local government levels, the same collegiate system of administration, comprising ethnic nationalities will also be put in place to ensure cohesion and harmoniously carry along majority of communities in each state.  However, very cogent arguments can also be made for the abolition of the rather wasteful and unviable 36 states structure, with its oppressively huge operational costs that make little or no contribution to the well-being of most Nigerians, while providing opportunities for more political adventurers to loot the treasury.  The choice is ours to make; do we want to live in apprehension and sustain acrimony in our body polity or do we truly want to break the chains of our bondage and release our true God given potential as a nation?”

This article was first published in June 2006 in response to the abiding calls for political restructuring; the same article has been regularly published, since then, to commemorate October 1st and the aborted, widely accepted, transparent democratic election of June 12, 1993 which Moshood Abiola won.

SAVE THE NAIRA, SAVE NIGERIANS!