Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Obasanjo, A New PDP and A New SouthWest After April 2004 - Part 4
continued from http://www.dawodu.com/omoruyi21.htm
Professor OMO OMORUYI, mni
SOUTHWEST CAN NOW BOAST: “WE PRODUCED
This is the No. 4 in a four-part
essay on the phenomenon, “OBASANJO; A NEW PDP and A NEW SOUTHWEST after APRIL
2003”. This part is focused on how to manage the new PDP for the problem
solving functions of the President in the next four years. The President would
not have excuses. And the PDP would not also have excuses in 2007. Nobody
outside the vast number of Nigerians in the north and south, Christians and
Muslims and believers in African Traditional Religion including his people can
boast again “We made Chief Obasanjo, the President” or “Obasanjo signed a pact
with the Northern leaders to do this or that”. Mr. President, you can now say
with pride, “I am President of Nigeria through and by the ‘will of the people’,
including my people”. This is the freedom Chief Obasanjo shall have from May
29, 2003. It is my prayer that he uses this new freedom in the interest of
Nigerians from May 29, 2003.
OBASANJO PLANNED HIS SUCCESS, NOT AN
The PDP electoral success in the
southwest is a result of the political plan of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It
grows out of the determination of the President since 1999 never again would he
go to the Nigerian people in a presidential election in 2003 without the
unflinching support of his people. How he would implement this determination was
underestimated before the election. How he did it is well elaborated in the
preceding essays. It took the followings steps:
The articulation of a Vision, that I call the Nigerian Political
The selling of the Vision to the Yoruba PEOPLE, his home people;
3. The making of the southwest to be an integral part of the leadership of the Campaign Organization for the 2003 election; and
4. The making of the Nigerian people outside his southwest to buy his vision as the basis of Nigerians in the north and south fighting the April elections.
One would expect a detailed study by
scholars. The new political machine for the 2003 election was planned not in
one day or year but over a long period after 1999. It was deliberate and not
just episodic. This political machine is a close knit one. It is
fundamentally different from the makeshift arrangement that we called the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that put Obasanjo in office in 1999. That
turned out to be a “bridge’. The present PDP should hopefully be for problem
solving. This is what Nigerians at home and abroad are itching for and we hope
the President would not let them down just as he did not let them down as a
THE OLD PDP
One would recall that in 1998/99 before the election of the President, the same political party sponsored some Nigerians for the National Assembly and as State Governors. As we saw through out the period from 1999 and 2003, the President and the members of the National Assembly and the State Governors saw themselves as belonging to different political parties. In many respects the President was on his own. He was even closer to the non-PDP members of the National Assembly than to the PDP members. With the connivance of the PDP leaders in the two Chambers in the National Assembly, the ANPP Senator commenced what they erroneously called impeachment proceeding against the PDP President. This was inexcusable, because what the National Assembly called impeachment was actually mere harassment and pursued within the politics of second term. This had implications for policies as the country passed through between 1999 and 2003.
THE NEW PDP
The series of election beginning with
the April 12 for the National Assembly extending to the
Presidential/Gubernatorial elections on April 19 and ending with the election to
the State Assemblies produced elected officers at all levels with a bond with
the elected President. No elected Senator and Governor can claim to have done
outside his commitment to the President.
The PDP of today is now built around the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who has a Vision and his people are now part of the system. The new PDP draws on those in various parts of Nigeria who would reject the ethnic xenophobes and religious bigots of the southeast and northwest respectively.
The new PDP is bigger in terms of the number of members in the National Assembly and Governors at the State level. It covers more areas in the north and south of Nigeria.
Four critical changes that should be noted in the new PDP are as follows:
The change in the ‘geographical spread’ of those who voted for the
President that includes the southwest;
2. The introduction of new members from the southwest (home of the President) as Governors and members of the National Assembly;
3. The shift of the base of power in the party from the north to the south; and
4. The indispensability of the southwest in the political fortune of the party in future.
REVISIT THE YAR’ADUA NOTION OF NATIONAL
In view of the foregoing, one
would hope that the President would imitate his former Deputy, General Shehu
Yar’Adua who was able to break away from the far north and become part of a
national organization that included the north, the
middle-belt, the southwest and the south-south
and all religions. This is the task before President
Obasanjo after the 2003 election.
RECALLING YAR’ADUA’S MACHINE FROM MY
NOTES AS DG, CDS.(1989-93)
I recall how General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the first and only retired General in Nigerian history unlike other retired Generals today masquerading as democrats who demonstrated a knack for organizing a political party in Nigerian history.
I recall how General Yar’Adua went round the country to set up a political machine that had tentacles in all parts of the country.
I recall how the Yar’Adua’s machine, the Peoples Front of Nigeria (PFN) that successfully took over the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1989.
I recall when I once had a
breakfast with General Yar’Adua in his home in Katsina during the SDP Primaries
in Katsina State. Seeing how he was dominating the Presidential primaries from
the reports reaching me from various parts of the country and appreciating his
dominance of the primaries in Katsina, I was forced to ask, “General, how did
you put together this massive and close knit national political machine”? He
smiled and said “Prof. that is for your PH.D student to find out”. He assured
me that he would cooperate with any scholar who would want to talk to him.
Unfortunately no one has ever done a study of the “Yar’Adua political machine”
as far I know till today.
What is remarkable about this retired General was how he did it, which can still be a lesson for Nigerian retired political generals with resources who want to be politicians.
1. 1He did it with out making noise.
2. He canvassed for support without emphasizing religion like his fellow Katsina man, Buhari who is reputed to have told Muslim in the north to vote for someone who would respect or defend their religion.
He canvassed for support without emphasizing his ethnic group or region
like Ojukwu who is campaigning among the Ndigbo for the Igbo worldwide to vote
only for him.
4. There was nothing about his conduct that betrayed his military connection. He relied solely on the civilian political leaders in different part of Nigeria.
In many respect one can see some
resemblance between what Yar’Adua did and what Chief Obasanjo did between 1999
and 2003 to change the base of the PDP from what it was in 1999 to what became
of the PDP in 2003.
Nigerians would still recall how General Yar’Adua, a Fulani from Katsina and a retired General beat the legendary popular former civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji LK Jakande in the open presidential primaries under the SDP in Lagos in 1992.
One would recall as a matter of hindsight that one of the mistakes of the period 1989-93 was the cancellation of that exercise in November 1992 that would have had General Yar’Adua and Mallam Adamu Ciroma as the two candidates in that election.
I knew as of fact that for the
cancellation of the primaries in 1992, General Yar’Adua would have been the
first retired General from the north in Nigerian history that would have
successfully moved from Khaki to Agbada or Babariga through
the interplay of democratic forces. He was supported more by the south-south,
middle-belt, the southeast and the southwest than by the far north leaders who
rejected him because he was too progressive for them and too committed to the
One would still recall that Chief
MKO Abiola inherited this machine and perfected it and used it first to win the
nomination at Jos in March 1993 and eventually for his electoral success in June
It should be noted that the first success recorded by the Yar’Adua machine was during the election to the National Assembly held on July 4, 1992. This was when the SDP secured a majority of seats in both Chambers of the National Assembly. This was to the surprise of the NRC that the far north and conservative Igbo.
With the kind of support in most of the country at the National Assembly election, it was obvious that the SDP Presidential candidate would win at anytime. Before the July 1993, the NRC thought it was the dominant political party because it had more Governors than the SDP. This was when the northern conservatives prevailed on General Yakubu Gowon and he agreed to seek the presidential nomination of the NRC. Why he had to seek the nomination from Wusasa near Zaria in Kaduna State and not from his birthplace of Pankshin in Plateau State and why he was cleared even though he was not qualified still remain undiscussed. I will leave these issues to another forum.
One would still recall that General Yar’Adua would have been the first northerner who had the courage to challenge the south in their terrain and won. I say courage because unlike the system of open presidential primaries under which he emerged the number one candidate of the SDP, Alhaji Shehu Shagari only emerged the NPN candidate through zoning system.
A TWO-PARTY SYSTEM IN THE OFFING
What lesson do we learn from the current political development in Nigeria? The end would be a realignment of political forces that would lead to a two party system after the 2003 election.
One would hope that Nigerians
would build on the Buhari-oriented ANPP to challenge the Obasanjo-oriented PDP
in future elections. Would this not be the basis of the two political parties
Consequently one should and would want to impress on President Obasanjo of the need for a new base of support and survival during his second term. Those who want to challenge him while in office and seek alternative ticket to him should cultivate a new base of support through the ANPP.
The Yar’Adua formula, which has now become the Obasanjo formula should be made to work. Consequently the sprawling national organization, which is the new PDP, should be put to work and formalized into a virile national organization.
Those who are opposing the new national organization today should formalize their new alliance into a new political machine, maybe through the far-north oriented political party, the ANPP.
ADVICE TO OBASANJO: A NEW PDP FOR
This new organization built around his victory should be reenacted as the new support base for Obasanjo’s second term. This in my view should be the mission of and for the Obasanjo Second Term.
On how to make the southwest become an integral part of the new PDP, may I use this medium to advise President Obasanjo to borrow a leaf from how the Yar’Adua machine, the PFN fused with the Awo machine, the Peoples Solidarity Party (PSP) to form the SDP. I saw this. I was not told. I knew how it was done; it was fascinating to watch the activities of the General as he moved from one part of the country to the other. I watched it during the National Convention of the SDP. He impressed me as an amazing organizer.
It is my hope that one day the new Obasanjo machine would fuse with the Awo machine (AD) to form a new PDP. This would be the political party of the future of Nigeria.
It is anticipated that another political machine maybe, the ANPP would have to reform and maybe, with Ojukwu machine as the other political party.
30-PARTY SYSTEM IS POLITICALLY
What we have today in the name of political parties are no political parties as we know them in literature and even in Nigerian political history. That they could be said to be sponsoring the 17 Presidential candidates for April 2003 election was a recipe for political disaster. We are seeing the negative effects of allowing anybody to form political parties and run for offices outside the known rules. There should have been a cut off point that after the first election to the National Assembly, those who could not meet certain threshold would have been allowed to drop out. The election to the National Assembly exposed them for what they are that they have no business canvassing for votes from the Nigerian people. Here they are today under the umbrella of the Conference or Coalition of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) making pronouncements on the future of Nigerian democracy. Those who read about them in the international community would think that there is a major political opposition to the PDP in the name of the CNPP. This is what they want to achieve as they know that no one takes them seriously in Nigeria. What is sad about them is that they’re using the public fund to campaign against Nigerian voters who voted for the President and the PDP elected officials in April-May 2003.
Those who floated these political
parties see their parties as economic proposition. Each of the 30 parties
including many one man/woman parties was by law given six million naira before
the election. This is what some of the highly vocal ones in the name of
promoting democracy in Nigeria or trying to stop election rigging in Nigeria are
using dishing out lies to the international media.
It is my hope that politicians would see the futility in pursuing political ambition through the 30-party system. The post election activities of the leaders of these parties ought to have told them that they should regroup into a second political party within the two-party system with new names, maybe, along some platforms.
The fact of two sprawling two party
system does not mean that other individuals like Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Chief
Gani Fawehinmi and Alhaji MD Yusuf of this world would not be able to pursue
their goals outside the two sprawling two-party system. It should be obvious
that none of these distinguished Nigerians would be able to function within the
two political parties. They should be allowed to carry on with their political
activities. I cannot see how their activities could be a threat to the Nigerian
Political Mainstream. There might be some political parties that are concerned
with local issues as in India. They should be allowed to form their
REASONS FOR ANNULMENT OF 1993 ARE STILL
The Buhari organization and Dim
Ojukwu thought that they were being historical when they confused the nomination
process that was put in place after the botched presidential primaries for the
voting procedure for the success of the June 12. I corrected them that the
nomination system that we called Option A4 had nothing to do with the system of
election called the “Modified Open Ballot System”(MOBS) for the success of the
June 12. It would appear that this mistake is still continuing as the recent
communiqué by Chef Anthony Enahoro’s party was still calling for the adoption of
Option A4 for the future election in Nigeria. Do Nigerian politicians read?
Going back to how Nigerians want to mislead, just read about those who are raising the June 12 during this period, the annullists without principles. These were the people who contributed in many ways to deny the Nigerian people their democratic rights in the past. They all worked for General Abacha.
This essay cannot therefore be
concluded without recalling some of the real reasons for the annulment of the
June 12. I shall finally raise three issues for the consideration of President
Obasanjo. If the President does not know, there are certain fears about the
Yoruba in charge of the Federal Government that I had the opportunity to know in
the past especially in 1993. They will not come directly to tell the
President why they are opposed to him. The traditional rulers from the north
and from the southeast know, but I doubt if they would feel confident raising
these issues with the President. Let me name three of them.
THE FEAR OF AN EIGHT-YEAR YORUBA
One is the fear of an eight-year of
Yoruba Presidency. The fear was captured in the writing of Professor Ben
Nwabueze, the Secretary General Ohaneze Ndigbo. In his book, Nigeria’93:
The Political Crisis and Solutions (p.134) he had this to say about the
Yoruba people and their ambition:
The monopoly of the presidency by the Moslem ethnic groups
of the North has its counterpart in the ambition of the Yoruba
to monopolize other positions in the federal establishments,
which poses a serious danger to the good government
and unity of the country.
It is unfortunate that the learned Professor saw Nigeria as between the Muslim north and the Christian south. It is strange for the learned Professor to argue that it was the ambition of the Yoruba politicians that posed a threat to the good government of the country.
It is in bad taste that he had to
characterize the Yoruba people in the following manner:
Nice and friendly as they are, the Yorubas have
no sense of fraternity with other ethnic groups in Nigeria
when it comes to federal appointments.
They see nothing wrong in monopolizing all positions in
federal establishment, from messenger to chief executive.
them that is how it should be, the natural order of things.
Any other Nigerians in their midst in such establishment is
an unwanted intruder.
He went on:
In a Yoruba dominated establishment
Yoruba becomes the medium of communication
in which government business is conducted.
All the major ethnic groups
behave this way. It is wrong to blame the Yoruba for the disease that is
common with the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba who ever had opportunity of ruling that
country in one capacity or the other.
It is for this reason that a serious fear is created in the
minds of other Nigerians that after two successive terms
(eight years) of a Yoruba President, many
federal establishments would have become thoroughly
This is at the root of the opposition of Ohaneze group to the second term of President Obasanjo. One would recall that this kind of argument was repeated in the Ohaneze paper on the IGBO Presidency Project (IPP).
TWO DOMAINS OF ECONOMY AND POLITY
SHOULD NOT BE IN ONE HAND
Two is the fear of Nigerians mostly in the north and in the southeast that the Yoruba people that control the economy should not be allowed to take over the polity. This is based on the principle that no member of the tripod (Hausa-Yoruba-Igbo) should be allowed to control more than one domain, This was used by the geo-ethno-military ruling-clique in preparation for the annulment to recruit the Ndigbo leaders who provided the propaganda machine and legal support for the annulment of June 12 and for the sustenance of the annulment of the June 12 in 1993 and after.
HOW SOME NDIGBO LEADERS WERE
USED BY THE MILITARY
One does not want to start another war with the Ndigbo commentators. Those who tell them the truth they descend on and call him names. I hope the young Igbo commentators such as Opara and Adigwe would appreciate that I lived through one of the most difficult period for the Ndigbo. This was in mid 1970/80s. I discovered that the Ndigbo leaders were handicapped compared with the Hausa and Yoruba when the three ethnic nationalities were jockeying for a place in the transition program. They can call me names for the effort I quietly made to improve the Ndigbo political fortune in Nigeria.
I also saw how the Ndigbo leaders were conflicted over opposing Sharia and agreeing to work with the north defined as the Hausa/Fulani. I contributed a lot to resolving this apparent conflict within the Ndigbo leaders in the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) in 1978. I thought the situation with the Ndigbo had changed after 10 years in 1989 when I was now in Government and managing political transition program.
Some of them are so ignorant as not to appreciate what Chief Obasanjo as a private person and non-member of the SDP did to improve the political fortune of the Ndigbo if Chief MKO Abiola were to assume power. He did this inspite of the fact that the Ndigbo leaders made the bulk of the Igbo voters to support the NRC partly because of the antiAwolowo feeling in Igbo land after the Civil War and partly because of what some erroneously called the traditional friendship between the Hausa/Fulami and the Ndigbo.
ANTI-YORUBA ZEALOTS IN IGBO LAND MUST RETHINK
I hope these young Igbo commentators would allow me to write from the records that I kept when I was in government.
I could not recover that Comrade Uche Chukwumerije, a friend I thought he was when I applauded his appointment as the Secretary for Information during the last year of IBB administration would set out to ruin by job. All efforts I made for us to meet to explain to him the transition program failed. I did not know he had his agenda.
Of course, the record is there that he manned the propaganda machine dishing out untruths about impending doom over the June 12 that would be unleashed on the country by the Yoruba leaders. Nigerians would recall how many people from the southeast lost their lives and property when they were fleeing from the north and southwest to the southeast because their man, Comrade Uche Chukwumerije’s propaganda was to the effect that there would be war.
He was on the delegation of the
Ohaneze to many groups in Nigeria throughout the period of 1999-2007 calling
Obasanjo the Igbo hater from his past and how since becoming the President in
1999 he had marginalized the Ndigbo. Well what would Uche be from May 29,
From May 29, 2003 Comrade Uche Chukwumerije would be a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the same ticket as the Yoruba man from Abeokuta as Chief MKO Abiola who happens to be the President without the support of someone like Comrade Uche Chukwumerije. Would he now operate as an Ohaneze chieftain or as a PDP Senator from Abia? Would he consider himself subject to (a) the Party Whip in the Senate and (b) the ‘Eleventh Commandment’ of the National Chairman of PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh of “Thou Shall not malign the PDP President”? Chief Audu Ogbeh should have cleared him before he allowed him to run on the party’s ticket. Maybe this would be an opportunity for him to bring the Ndigbo into the Nigerian Political Mainstream.
I still have some drafts of the anti-Abiola, the anti-Yoruba decrees and the pro-military decrees that the committee headed by Professor Ben Nwabueze produced for the military. I shook my head when it was revealed to me that Professor Ben Nwabueze, an eminent Constitutional Lawyer was the Chairman of that Committee that functioned under the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and outside the Ministry of Justice. Professor Ben Nwabueze even prided himself of having the decrees that the Lagos High Court Judge said were not available to him because he was the author. Where should we normally get decrees? During this period decrees were smuggled to the Court to stop the Yoruba Judges in Lagos by a lawyer hired for the military by the same committee only to tell the Judge of the ouster clause.
Professor Nwabueze had to confess in
his book in 1994 that certain sections of the decree on the Interim National
Government (ING) that he drafted for President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB)
were changed to accommodate the emergence of General Sani Abacha in November
1993. He was upset when Chief Ernest Shonekan, a Yoruba person of all person
from Abeokuta was named the Head of ING, which he said was contrary to what IBB
told him when he was clearing the draft with him. I know as of fact that IBB
refused to tell him because at the time he received the draft from, he had not
made up his mind then.
I had to say all this to demonstrate
how upset I was when it turned out that the first person to moot the idea of ING
was Professor Ben Nwabueze. Of course, I exploded when the Ohaneze Ndigbo
issued a statement signed by Professor Ben Nwabueze calling on the President the
statement did not acknowledge s a winner of an election to set up an Interim
Government of National Unity whatever that means. That statement did not have
the courtesy to congratulate the winner of that election. It congratulated the
voters but not the elected!
Of course, Professor Nwabueze
carried his advocacy to the Arewa Consultative Forum and later to the defeated
candidates of the ANPP and APGA. Finally he forced that matter through the
Patriots. It is still the Ohaneze plan authored by the eminent Professor of
I wonder how many of the young Igbo commentators read the response of General Babangida when the ING matter was thrown at him on May 2, 2003. Upset, this was an understatement. He exclaimed: Interim what or as the Igbo would say Interim gini! IBB must have recalled how the same person misled him on the ING contrivance in 1993 with IBB as its head as constitutional. May I with humility and respect advise Ben to go to Oba his home town and solicit for their voters on a platform different from the PDP on an anti-Obasanjo platform. He would lose his deposit as Din Ojukwu lost in 1983 and in 2003 in Nnewi.
One still recalls the various roles of Chief Arthur Nzeribe in many phases of Nigerian politics. If Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe or Chief RBK Okafor were alive they would be in a position to confirm why Dr. Azikiwe refused to ride in the aircraft Chief Nzeribe donated to him for the presidential campaign and for his later use. One day we were stranded at Kano and RBK knew Dr. Azikiwe’s attitude to the aircraft humorously asked the Owelle (Dr. Azikiwe), if he RBK should send for his aircraft? Follow the drama.
“My aircraft”, the Owelle chuckled!
“RBK”, my aircraft, you mean the one given to me
by your brother! I s that what you call my aircraft,
the Owelle asked?
Guess what the Owelle retorted?
“RBK, you know your Oguta brother very well”.
Before RBK could say a word, the Owelle said,
Arthur is just
waiting for me to board the aircraft;
he could use a remote control to bring down
the aircraft once he knows Owelle is on board”.
This was the sage of Nigerian
politics telling those of us around him at the airport why he would not ride in
the aircraft. Did Arthur know this? It was a beautiful aircraft; I used it
many times on urgent party assignments.
I also recall a second incident in Tokyo, Japan when I was busy selling the Transition program to the Japanese government in early 1993. In the hotel I was preparing to go the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a scheduled meeting gathering my thoughts on various questions that would be asked me about the transition program especially on the Option A4 under which many candidates would commence their nomination journey when Arthur Nzeribe came on the tube, on CNN making a case for “IBB for President”. I thought it was huge joke. I did not show interest in what I saw and heard on CNN. Since I had been told by the Japanese Ambassador that the Foreign Office was asking question about how Nigeria would have about 100 presidential candidates, my mind was on having answer to that question.
The Arthur’s CNN campaign for “IBB for President” ruined my mission in Japan. To the Japanese officials, IBB was deceiving the international community with a transition program that would end with him still hanging on to power. I was devastated. Did IBB think that this man was helping him? That is for him to respond to as the man became very useful in the annulment saga.
However the Japanese Ambassador himself Ambassador Kazuhara personally led the Japanese delegation to observe the SDP Nomination Convention at Jos in March 1993. He observed the beauty of Option A4 as a nomination system that provided for all ethnic nationalities to vie for the office of the President. I will still recommend it anyday to the Nigerian political parties.
Then came Arthur’s role on June 10, 1993. Then came his campaign for Abacha forever. And his campaign for sustenance of the annulment saga that still continued under General Abacha.
One still recalls the combined role of Chief Nzeribe and Dim Ojukwu in the anti-Abiola fight before he was nominated. Arthur camped in Bauchi and Ojukwu in Jos and both were breathing on the neck of the Ndigbo delegates to the SDP Convention at Jos to reject MKO Abiola and support Alhaji Kingibe.
When his effort to stop Abiola from being nominated failed Arthur then resorted to his Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) and the Abuja High Court to do the trick. That also failed because General Babangida himself knew that everything the Abuja High Court did was in violation of the decrees on the transition program and on the presidential election. Even the late Justice Ikpeme said that much that even though the Decrees ousted the jurisdiction of the court, she was still going to pronounce on it anyway at odd hour of 9.30 PM on June 10, 1993 leaving the onus on the NEC to abide by her ruling or refuse to abide by the ruling. I direct readers to what Professor Nwabueze had to say about this ruling!
That was the nature of the judiciary at Abuja in those days. Where is the Judge today? Where is the Chief Judge of Abuja today? Where is MKO Abiola today? Where is Abacha today? In the end it’s all vanity!
NDIGBO AND THE SENATE PRESIDENT
Today Senator Nzeribe’s name is being mentioned as the President of the Senate. Is that what the PDP wants? Is that what the Ndigbo can give to Nigeria? I will not say more than that.
The PDP should manage its majority. Above all, the PDP should pick a President of the Senate who in terms of ethical values and commitment to democratic values can match the leadership of the Executive. Such a person should be comparable with the impeccable character that exists at the Head of the Judiciary. This is the problem that the National Assembly has been having since 1999 because of the zoning policy of the PDP. The Southeast since 1999 was not able to present someone with the same status as President Obasanjo and Justice Uwais. This is why someone like Dr. Alex Ekwueme would have fit into that arrangement. This is what we call “status equivalence”.
I recall when I gave a paper at the Boston University on the aftermath of the election in 1999 and I raised the question of Dr. Ekwueme becoming the Senate President. It was rumored then that President-Elect, Chief Obasanjo had offered to support Dr. Ekwuem for that coveted position in order to give the Ndigbo of comparable stature like him and the Chief Justice Mohamed Uwais a position of leadership of one of the three branches of government, the Legislative Branch. This highly uninformed Ndigbo Research Fellow charged that I was discourteous to Dr. Ekwueme who was the former Vice President for suggesting that he step below his status to become a mere Senator. I said uninformed because in the US to which Nigeria patterned her Presidential System after, Vice President Hubert Humphrey went back to the Senate after losing the presidential election to Richard Nixon in 1968. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate after losing the presidential election to Johnson in 1964. Of course, in 2000, a former Vice President, from Minnesota ran and lost the senatorial election. Nigerians saw what the southeast and the northwest gave Nigeria as Senate President and House Speaker respectively because of the zoning.
May I with out trying to offend say that all the names that are being mentioned from the southeast today would not still enhance the prestige of the National Assembly. It is not late for the PDP to raise the matter with Dr. Ekwueme in view of the US practice I just raised. If that fails, the PDP southeast zone should approach Chief Emeka Anyaoku to urge him in the national interest to occupy the slot for the Ndigbo in the three branches of government. If any of these distinguished Nigerians were occupying the position of the Senate President, the “status inconsistency” that we noticed in the three branches of government between 1999 and 2003 would have been avoided.
All the campaign for one term, the formation of an Interim Government outside the Constitution and the various construction of ethnic Presidency such as the Igbo Presidency Project (IPP) were pursued within the religious bigotry of Buhari in the far north and within the ethnic xenophobes of Dim Ojukwu in the southeast respectively that a Yoruba or Christian should not be President of Nigeria for more than one term. The fear is part of the first fear that at the end of eight years of two terms of a Yoruba Presidency, the Yoruba must have taken over the full control of the economy and the polity. I still recall the fake security reports orchestrated against and about MKO Abiola in 1993. Obasanjo is a Nigerian President who just happens to be a Yoruba and a Christian. He had never allowed these two attributes to interfere with his dealings with Nigerian no matter where they come from or what they believe in. He has harsher words for the Yoruba people than for others.
TEAR OF ONE PARTY SYSTEM
The third fear has to do with the
feeling of Governors of States that voted against the President in 2003 and are
presided over by non-PDP Governors. I was not surprised when this matter was
raised with me. I saw manifestations of this in 1993. I saw how the non-SDP
States such as the NRC Governors of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Kano, Lagos Enugu
States to name a few became the campaign managers for the sustenance of
annulment on the fear sold to them by the military propagandists that Chief MKO
Presidency would over-run their states. This is the same fear today from the
ANPP Governors of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno States
and maybe of the AD Governor of Lagos State.
This fear is genuine from the Nigerian experience during the Second Republic. The NPN leaders starting with the Vice President and the National Chairman of the NPN had to earmark Anambra and Oyo States the homes of these two leaders respectively as must win States in 1983. They needed to justify their leadership position in the NPN. The President should watch out from some his aides from these ANPP States who would want to behave like the Vice President and the National Chairman of the NPN. The line between rebuilding his party in these states and destabilizing these states for a take-over is thin, I agree. But it must be maintained.
A one party system and a one party dominance are two different things. India never had any law that prevented other parties for over 30 years from emerging. Only the Indian Congress Party of the “tall men” dominated the Indian democracy for many years. At some point in the 20th century the British Labor Party was as good as dead until the Conservative party blundered and the New Labor under Tony Blair emerged and today with the kind of majority the British Labor Party had under the last two elections, it would seem that the British Conservative party would never rise again. All these are lessons for the PDP in Nigeria that no political situation is permanent in a democracy.
PRESIDENT SHOULD CONCENTRATE ON
DOMESTIC POLICIES IN 2003-2007
It is generally acknowledged that the first term was spent on politics of transition, hence all the items that formed the inaugural address on May 29, 1999 were left undone. Those problems are still with Nigeria today. The President should revisit them. They are general poverty, decay in social infrastructure (education and health, social welfare and unemployment), decay in physical infrastructure roads airline and railways) decay in utilities services such as telecommunication light, water.
The President should concentrate more
on domestic policies than on foreign policies. The marketing of Nigeria as a
democratic country should now be in terms of a country where corruption is
reduced, where security to life can be guaranteed and where the delivery of
social services is improving. Above all the world would want to know that
election has become a routine affair and it is no longer a matter of life and
REFORM OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS
There should be a reform of the way the legislature at the center and at he state levels does its business. Today Nigeria patterns its executive after the US and the legislature after the Westminster. This can only produce chaos.
I tried to push for the reform of the legislative system in the past through the education of the legislators in 1991/92. But whatever fruit education bore was wiped out when the military intervened in 1993 with the annulment.
The mixed bag we have today of a Presidential System working with the Westminster System is partly responsible for the low productivity of the legislature at all levels.
The Committee System is the
foundation of the US Congressional System. It is not working in Nigeria.
Above all, the public is not allowed to participate in the processing of
legislation through appearances at the committee hearing.
The PDP under the leadership of the President should undertake a reform of the Legislative System in line with the Presidential System.
A NATIONAL CONFERENCE OR A NATIONAL
The President should take a hard look at the issue of a National Conference. The main reason why the pro-democracy forces, especially in the southwest wanted a Sovereign National Conference after the annulment in 1993 was because they wanted the issues in the annulment to be raised, discussed and resolved. I argued for it since 1993 after the annulment of the June 12 in 1993. I saw it as a mode of coming to terms with the issues in the annulment. This was also reflected in my lectures in various locations in the US and finally in my book on June 12, The Tale of June 12.
It is a matter of sequence that the leaders of the southwest were in the forefront in demanding that Nigeria should be renegotiated since it became impossible for non-northerners to rule in Nigeria. It would appear that this is the basis of the leaders of the southeast agitating for a National Conference, especially after 1999. Dim Ojukwu seems to be echoing that case when he asked: “Why the Ndigbo cannot be President of Nigeria”? Maybe I can answer this question. The Ndigbo needs a level playing field like other Nigerians. It was provided during the application of Option A4 in 1993.
“A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD” FOR ALL IN ALL
Before now there were written and unwritten qualifications to be met if one were to be the President of Nigeria. Chief MKO Abiola met the written ones and did not meet the unwritten ones hence the annulment. This is not the forum to discuss this distinction. I dealt with the matter in many writings and lectures in the past six years in the US. This is at the root of the present crisis and the demands for ethnic Presidency and for such undemocratic solutions as “rotation”, “zoning” or “power shift”.
If all political parties could agree like the Bangladesh political parties in 1991 to an amendment to the Bangladesh Constitution on the mode of organizing civilian to civilian seccession election, we should be able to leave the issue of who becomes President to the interplay of democratic forces. This was well discussed in a three-part essay “Neither an Office Holder nor a Candidate Be” that can still be accessed from www.nigeriaworld.com and www.nigerdeltacongress.com
What Nigerians from all regions and ethnic nationalities should be agitating for is a “level-playing field” for all. The field is definitely not level if one of the contestants in an election is both an incumbent and a candidate.
In Bangladesh, the incumbent according to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution should not be involved in any election matter at all. When his term ends, he should pack out of the office and seek a re-election, if he wants to from his house like all other candidates.
The security agencies and the organization of the election would be left in the hand of a Caretaker Administration that would be headed by a Court of Appeal Judge.
I wish to acknowledge that of all
the Nigerian politicians, only Chief Harry Akande of ANPP ever picked it up.
This is one Nigerian who understands what it takes to run a presidential system
but he did not want to give General Buhari a fight.
Other so-called politicians were too concerned with the number of political parties they wanted to have not minding that too many parties would detract from the elementary requirement of a level playing field. More political parties would be to the advantage of the dominant party. They even went to the Supreme Court to get a ruling that INEC should allow all and sundry to have political parties. This was the origin of the 30 political parties. Ojukwu turned round to blame the INEC for the number of political parties that it did it to favor the PDP. The political contractors needed the parties in name because of the financial rewards that would accrue to the owners of the parties.
Others in the National Assembly did not even understand the elementary rules about election. They had the opportunity to take many steps to have a near level playing field. The National Assembly failed in its elementary duty of passing good laws for the conduct of a free and fair election. Why should politicians today after the election including members of the National Assembly such as Dr. Chuba Okadigbo turn round to blame INEC?
I also wish to recognize the contributions of two Nigerian public affairs commentators, Dr. Wumi Akintide and Dr. Tonye David-West who saw the merit in the Bangladesh Formula for Nigeria and said so in their columns in WWW.Nigeriaworld.com
“A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD”: A MATTER OF
The provision of a “level-playing
field” for all should be a matter of the Constitution that should be tackled
through the National Conference. Consequently, the search of a level playing
field cannot and should not be any of the followings:
1. It should not be a matter to be handled through an ordinary law passed by the National Assembly.
2. It certainly should not be an issue for negotiation after an election no mater how one feels about the conduct of that election that was held under one set of rules.
It is not a matter that should be thrown at the winner of an election (Obasanjo)
by the defeated candidates (Buhari/Ojukwu).
4. It is not a matter that should be proposed to the winner of an election (Obasanjo) by bodies such as the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Ohaneze Ndigbo or by the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) or the Patriots not known by the Constitution or by the Electoral Act as part of the electoral process.
NEED FOR A PDP POLICY ON OIL
There are many problems in the oil producing areas that are beyond the issue of “resource control”. The PDP is in total control of the governments in the six states.
There should be a Conference of the South-South Political Leaders to discuss first the mode of ensuring peace and second the mode of ensuring that there is progress in the Niger-Delta. If all the resources were left in the Niger-Delta today without peace among the ethnic nationalities, such money would be nothing. It is gratifying that the Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori had recently announced that inter-ethnic harmony would form his major pre-occupation during his second term.
Whatever decision is arrived at, at the Conference of South-South Political Leaders, it can then be taken to the national body of the PDP for implementation. I still believe in the proposal I made to the Governors of the six south-south states in 2000 called the “Agenda of Liberation” still in the WWW.Nigeriaworld.com and www.nigerdeltacongress.com.
The most intractable problem about
the Niger-Delta since 1999 is the lack of a “PDP Policy” on oil that one would
like to discuss. The individual Governors would say one thing; the President
would say another and yet the National Assembly another and yet the youths in he
area would take violent method of making themselves heard. All of them seem to
be of the same political party, the PDP. This is what should be resolved
today. Maybe we should leave the matter to a National Conference. Is it not
begging the question?
PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO SHOULD LEAD
The new majority means that the PDP under the leadership of President Obasanjo should find solutions to the lingering problems. We should not blame it on the Nigerian factor a euphemism for anything goes. This was lacking during the 1999-2003 and we could excuse the President because of the kind of members of the National Assembly and the leadership of the party. The President would have no excuses again with the nature of the membership of the various State governments and in the National Assembly. They all ran on the same platform as the President; there is no reason why the President should not summon them to work for the Nigerian people.
The PDP under President Obasanjo should be a problem-solver from now on. Of course the first test would be the kind of team he assembles soon and the second would be the program of action directed at what he told the Nigerian people on May 29, 1999. The problems are still with us and what Nigerians want today are not more speeches on how they would be resolved but want to feel the actual resolution. Nigerians want uninterrupted electricity services, uninterrupted petrol supply, uninterrupted telephone system, schools that are open, healthcare delivery system that is available. Nigerians was a reduction in corruption.
President, you have the majority; your VISION is well known to all; no one can boast outside your home that they made you President. With your home secured, you should be able to lead the Nigerian people in the problem-solving crusade in the next four years.
Those who want me to write about President Obasanjo should now find a lot to read about the man from me. What he did in preparation for the April 2003 election is remarkable. He did not just jump into the political theater like General Buhari or Dim Ojukwu. The difference between him and these two distinguished Nigerians ought to be clear. It is clear to me today, as it was when I endorsed him of all the Presidential candidates in March 2003. From the behavior of General Buhari and Dim Ojukwu and others who should not have been in the political theater such as Alhaji Balarabe Musa, I am glad today that I did the right thing in March 2003.
May God Bless the President-Elect,
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other elected officials in the 2003 elections.
May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria that through the elected officials in the 2003 election, Nigeria would soar to loftier heights.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.