The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned the recent comment of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State over rotational presidency.
Bello had during a maiden edition of the ‘Governor Yahaya Bello seminar for political and crime correspondents’ in Abuja on Friday, described rotational Presidency as “unconstitutional”,
adding that “Nigerians should be allowed to make their choices for the best candidate to emerge for the top post”.
Ohanaeze, in a statement on Monday, signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, slammed Governor Bello, saying that he had demonstrated a remarkable obsession with ambition shortly after providence paved way for him to be sworn in as a governor in 2015 at an impressionable age of 40.
The apex Igbo body pointed out that “there is no doubt that Bello has a date with destiny going by a smooth political ascendancy that life has presented to him.”
It expressed fears that the youthful governor “is embarking on a political adventure that lacks both conscience and principle.”
Ohanaeze noted that all the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the inner still voice or consciece.
Going down memory lane on the history of rotation, the apex Igbo group averred that “Governor Bello was still a student, studying accountancy at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria when an agreement was reached between the North and the South with respect to Rotational Presidency.
“The meeting was held at the National University Commission Conference Centre, Abuja in 1998. Dr.Chuba Okadigbo spoke on behalf of the South while Alh. Abubakar Rimi spoke for the North. The likes of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Chief Solomon Lar, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, etc were at the meeting.
“The Nigerian statesmen examined the merits and demerits of zoning and rotation of power between the composite zones in Nigeria. At the end, it was resolved that the presidency be conceded to the South and that it would rotate between the South and the North in the interest of equity, unity and corporate existence of Nigeria.”
It added, “the foregoing was the basis for the emergence of presidential candidates of the mainstream political parties from the South West in1999. Since then, the patriotic and peace-loving Nigerians have adhered to the rotation principle such that at the end of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo second tenure, President Musa Yar’Adua was elected; Goodluck Jonathan and then President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Ohanaeze explained that it was on that basis that the Southern Governors resolved in the Lagos meeting that the South should produce the next President of Nigeria after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
It, therefore, advised Bello that it would serve his interest better if he supported the resolution by his southern colleagues; more so as “he is still young”.
Ohanaeze enjoined Bello to embrace the ethical functional relationship between the morality of an agreement and the legality of the constitution.
It contended that for clarity sake, that “morality is the universal foundation of Laws. On the other hand, law should be seen to stand in defence of morality.”
Reacting to Ohanaeze’s comments, Bello, through his Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, said where he was studying at the time does not really matter, and that “we can’t sacrifice competence and capacity for mediocrity”.
He said: “We have practiced rotation, but what have we to show for it as a nation? Who remembers where a good President comes from?
“The South-East can bring forward their best to contest the election. What the nation needs now is the best for the job.
“Our constitution doesn’t respect rotational presidency. It was the convenience of the political class.
“The governor didn’t dispute such unwritten agreement. But he is faulting it. We need a young, vibrant and pragmatic President come 2023.
“We need a man who will be at home with everyone from everywhere.
“The agreement made while he was in school over 20 years ago must not necessarily be in force forever, especially when it has not taken our nation to where we want to be as the true giant of Africa.
“We need a new one for a generation that wants to see Nigeria prosper.
“Governor Yahaya Bello is working with an Anambra man as Director-General, Research and Development; a Borno man as his Special Adviser on Public Relations and a Lagos man as his Special Adviser on Legal Matters.
“Nigeria will never be great as long as we think our greatness is in the shell of ethnic competition. Let the best emerge in 2023.”