Northern, Southern Leaders Want Rotational Presidency a Constitutional Item

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•Urge National Assembly to consider amendment

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Given Nigeria’s multi-ethnic peculiarity especially, as the permutations for 2023 presidential elections continue to scale up, some leaders of thoughts from the southern and the northern parts of the country, have called for a rotational presidency as a constitutional item that would take off with the Southeast.

The leaders also wanted the rotational presidency to be between the North and the South geo-political zones as well as governorship slots amendment that would be enshrined in the ongoing constitution amendment exercise at the National Assembly.

This idea was mooted at a forum organised by the Igbo Leadership Development Foundation in collaboration with Gregory University Uturu, World Igbo Summit Group, Centre for Intellectual Advanced and Professional Studies and New Generation Leadership Foundation.

The forum, a National conversation, canvassed that a rotational presidency was the only veritable way to ensure federal character in governance in the country.

Whilst asking the legislature to consider the amendment as crucial to Nigeria’s survival, the leaders in a communiqué signed by Dr. Godwin Udibe, Chairman, Planning Committee and Dr. Law O Mefor, Vice Chairman/Director Public Affair, stated that, “Owing to the peculiarity of the Nigerian federation, the gathering upheld rotation of Governor and President, and strongly recommended that it be enshrined in the Constitutions of both by country and political parties.”

Themed ‘Federal Character, Restructuring and Rotation of Presidential Power in Nigeria’, the National Conversation looked at the state of the nation and decried rising insecurity, restiveness and depressed economy, and called on government to rise to the existential challenges threatening the nation.
The gathering noted that the Federal Character principle as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has been observed mostly in breach in recent times, thus defeating the objectives of the containment policy, which aims to carry every part of the country along, asking government to live up to the spirit and letters of the Constitution.

“Following some observations that Restructuring as currently canvassed round the country is vague and confusing, the National Conversation redefined and simplified Restructuring to mean returning to the states the powers taken away from old regions by the successive military governments without necessarily returning the country to regionalism,” it stated.

The National Conversation agreed that a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction was desirable in 2023 and advised Ndigbo to build bridges and strategic depth as well as push for a pan-Nigerian movement for the actualisation of Nigeria President of the Igbo extraction.

The Nigerian leaders of thought also advised that the Abuja National Conversation should not be a one-off thing but continue to other zones of the country as a mission for the actualisation of a Nigeria that would produce a president of the Igbo extraction.
The gathering reaffirmed hope in indissoluble and indivisibility of Nigeria, based on equity, fairness and equality of citizens and ethnic nationalities that make up the Nigerian nation state.

The conference was attended by several regional and national leaders including General Yakubu Gowon as chairman, but represented by Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The co-chairman of the occasion was elder statesman and onetime presidential liaison, Alhaji Tanko Yakassi, the keynote speaker was Prof. Gregory Ibe, Chancellor and founder, Gregory University Uturu, while the Conversation was moderated by Prof Chinedu Nebo and Prof Udenta O Udenta.

Other personalities and Speakers were Prof. Pat Utomi, Yinka Odumakin of the Afenifere group, Chief Nnia Nwodo of the Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Bitrus Pogu of Northern Elders Group, Prof Anthony Kila, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Dr. Abubakar Manzo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Prof Chinedu Nebo, Ms. Ankio Briggs, Alhaji Mohammed Abba Gana and Chief Stella Odife.

Also in attendance were Dr. Sam Amadi, Ambasaador Dr. Humphrey Orjiakor, Ambassador Ozo Nwobu, Dr. Sigma Ayati, Prof. Ihechukwu Mabuike, AVM Umerie (Rtd.), Amb. Abdullahi H. Shinkafi, Prof OBC Nwaolise, Dr. Yima Sen, Prof. Madike, Hajia Aisha Aliyu, Rowland Pereotubo and many others.
Apart from the personalities, several regional and national organisations also participated. They were Ohanaeze, Afenifere, PANDEF, Middle Belt Forum, Aka Ikenga, PANPIEC, Igbo Delegates Assembly (19 northern States), Ijaw Youth Council, Benue State Government, African Students Education Support Initiative (ASESI), Students’ Union Government University of Abuja and Oodua Youth Parliament, among others.