23

Mar

COLLEGIATE PRESIDENCY AND NATIONAL HARMONY 13062016

2016-06-13

COLLEGIATE PRESIDENCY AND NATIONAL HARMONY
BY: HENRY BOYO 

There can be no end in the foreseeable future to a do-or-die fight to become President of our nation.  The unbridled struggle for the position of top dog has generally been 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 30percent of its 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.
“It is likely that if only modest resources and power devolved to the centre, for the exercise of its exclusive responsibilities, there would be less attraction to committing a huge financial war chest to capture the Presidency at any cost under any political banner.”

“Our political godfathers, in their wisdom, attempted to bring some sanity to the acrimony and state of insecurity generated by the struggle for the lucrative centre, with the rotation of the presidency along the North and South axis or less rigidly, amongst the six geopolitical zones.  However, this solution has not brought much comfort because; the constitutional provision for a maximum of two–four year terms also means that each geopolitical zone would produce a president every 48years (that is, assuming each geopolitical zone’s president controls the Treasury for 8years!) It also implies that all other eminently gifted, qualified and evidently socially minded presidential materials from other zones would be wasted in the 48year cycle, even when the best candidate available may be disqualified if it is not the turn of his geopolitical zone to produce the Head of State in our present 4year election cycles. 

“In view of the above political dilemma, particularly where the plunder of resources takes precedence over service and creation of social wealth, Nigerians have all become victims of the greed of a parasitic political class – invariably championed by both brazen and veiled autocratic leadership for over four decades. Possibly, the greatest threat to our present practice of democracy is dictatorship! Consequently, if we are to enjoy peace and successfully grow our economy, our constitution should promote the emergence of the best presidential materials from each geopolitical zone, to seek to occupy the highest office in the land. Furthermore, unless in times of serious National crisis, it should be unconstitutional for the National assembly to ever entertain any bill that would engineer term elongation and perpetuate dictatorship.

“The National Assembly, demonstrated great courage in throwing out Obasanjo’s third term bid, and they appropriately received the commendation of all true patriots; but, discerning Nigerians would warn against complacency. Clearly, if poverty deepens and social 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 wholly made up of surrogates, as witnessed in some states, vis-à-vis the godfather syndrome, in recent history.  Ultimately, our faltering democracy could transmute to a constitutional dictatorship, and the dark days of insecurity and social bondage would be with us once again!  

“So, how can we prevent such an ugly turn around in our Nation's political life and reduce the irrepressible grip of ethnic/regional aspirations for office of the President? In this regard, some eminent Nigerians have argued that the first requirement for a just, stable, progressive and egalitarian nation, should be the adoption of a truly fiscal, federal constitution, in which the centre devolves more of its powers to the states/regions, in recognition of their capacity as inclusive growth engines, to freely exploit their internal human and mineral resources and pay appropriate dues to the federal government at the centre.  It is reasonable to suggest that such a structure would motivate each region to look inwards and develop its natural resource to the best of their ability, rather than wait, cap in hand, for monthly handouts from the federal government. Thus, all regions would be actively engaged in putting their citizens to work to commercially exploit their captive natural resources to increase wealth and improve social welfare.

In our quest for sustained political harmony, and the reduction of the ever present fear of marginalization, we may want to consider the adoption of a six-year Collegiate presidency to douse the tension and attrition created by the incessant clamor and grandstanding by each geopolitical group to demand their turn, each time a presidential incumbent’s tenure comes to an end.  Under such arrangement, each political party would field a team comprising six candidates selected from each of the six geopolitical zones, to vie for the post of President; the six aspirants would campaign as a team and collectively implement the party's manifesto when victorious.  Thus, each member of the 6 member victorious party’s collegiate will serve as president for only one year, while the remaining five members would serve as vice presidents with direct oversight responsibilities for a discrete set of ministries and/or parastals.  Similarly, the 5 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 one year in every segment of federal administration with one year as defacto President.

Thus, with a constitutional emphasis on team commitment to party’s manifesto, it will be impossible for one person to consolidate a hold on the seat of power and remain long enough to transmute to dictatorship; it is also likely that, in such political ambience, Nigerians will be able 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 with equal powers in every government. Nigeria would also have a better chance to benefit immensely from the contribution of some of the best qualified and socially committed presidential materials from each zone in each six-year political cycle.  With such a model, the collegiate presidency would play as a team of stars who will work together to achieve their publicly declared party manifesto instead of the present model of a lone star who will continue to be perceived from primordial perspectives.

Similarly, at the state and local government levels, the same collegiate system of administration, comprising ethnic nationalities can also be established to ensure cohesion and harmoniously carry along the communities in each state with a sense of belonging.  However, very plausible arguments can also be made for the abolition of the clearly wasteful and unviable 36 states structure, with its oppressively huge operational costs, that makes little or no contribution to the well-being of most Nigerians, while inexplicably 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 economic and political bondage to release our true potential as a nation?” There is no better time than now to determine our destiny!”

This article was first published in June 2006, in response to Obasanjo’s third term Agenda and the unceasing calls for political restructuring; the same article has been published since then to commemorate Independence Day, and to also celebrate the anniversary of the aborted, widely accepted, transparent democratic election of June 12, 1993 which Moshood Abiola won. 

SAVE THE NAIRA,SAVE NIGERIANS!!