Onyibe Publishes Book on Isma’ila Isa Funtua

Ismaila Isa Funtua

Peter Uzoho

Author and public affairs expert, Mr. Magnus Onyibe, has published a book on the late charismatic political activist, construction entrepreneur and media investor, Mallam Isma’ila lsa Funtua, who passed away in July 2020,

The book titled “Ismaila Isa Funtua: A Bridge Builder, Chronicles of a Political Activist, And the Jostle for The Presidency of Nigeria In 2023”, is structured in four chapters.

A statement issued yesterday and signed by the Coordinator, Mr. John Bankisa, said the book is in part focused on the elder statesman and his bridge building legacy, both in terms of physical and human relationships.

It said Onyibe also leveraged the critical role that Funtua played in Nigerian politics since the 2nd Republic when he served as a minister, to his last position as a member of the inner circle of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the Ninth Republic, to dig up and bring to the threshing floor issues surrounding the presidential power sharing calculus between the north and south.

It said the late Funtua’s comment on ARISE TV on January 3, 2020, “Presidency is not turn-by-turn Nigeria Limited,” set off a political firestorm that’s now raging in the political space.

According to the author, the book which is a sort of anthology comprises of four chapters, saying the first two dwell on the late Funtua’s political odyssey and features comments from his friends and associates.

He said both chapters reveal critical facts about Nigeria from the eyes of Nigerians who have been in and around the corridors of political power in nearly four decades.

The views also included are those of his former colleagues in the media, who upon his passage renamed NIJ (Nigerian Institute of Journalism) House after him, and thus triggered another controversy as the gesture and mark of honour became another lightening rod .

The other two chapters, he explained, highlight some hidden hindrances to the realistic and practical implementation of the presidential power shift between the north and south equation, and amplify the historical facts to be contended with by those contending for the presidency of Nigeria from 2023 should be ceded to someone of lgbo extraction.

The author of the book posited that the nebulous nature of the gentleman agreement between northern and southern politicians entered into during the 1994/5 national conference to periodically swing the presidency between both sides has major shortcomings in the sharing formula.

Onyibe noted that the flaws in the gentleman agreement are evidenced by the fact that it did not take into consideration how power would rotate within the sub-regions.

Thus, the presidential power rotation calculus, according to him, is not only inequitably distributed between the north and south, but also faulty because it does not define how it would rotate between the states on the northern or southern sides of the equation that are now hobbled or excluded from enjoying the good feeling of their son or daughter being president.

Onyibe argued that a clear evidence of the weakness of the power sharing calculus is that presidential power in the north is currently residing in Katsina State where the late President Umaru Yar’dua who served as president from 2007 to 2010, and president Muhammadu Buhari, the incumbent president from 2015 till date, with a mandate to serve till 2023, hail from the same Katsina State.

He further said: “In effect, the two presidents that have served under the power rotation arrangement from the north, are Katsina State indigenes.

“The ugly reality of the scenario above is that owing to the limitations of the presidential power sharing agreement, by omission or commission, there is currently exclusion of the rest of the northern politicians in the eighteen other states in the North-west, North-east and North-central from the opportunity of producing the president until the next eight years after 2023 when the presidency is supposed to commence its residence in the south.

“That’s nearly 12 years from now, before presidential power can return to the north, and no one knows any of the 19 northern states that the presidential power pendulum may swing to, when it exits the south in 2031”.

Given the uncertainty that the arrangement is fraught with, and the existential reality intrinsic in the feeling of exclusion being expressed by the politicians in other states in the north, the author expressed the view that similar circumstances of feeling of unjustness may arise in the south, as the South-west which produced President Olusegun Obasanjo, 1999-2007 may be angling to produce the next president in 2023, if the rumor and media reports about the 2023 presidential ambition of the Yoruba leader, former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, was anything to go by.

The former Delta State Commissioner concluded that should such a suspected goal or dream of the South-west become a reality, it may further alienate the lgbos in the South-east, who he said, already nurse the negative feeling of being treated like outsiders in the politics of Nigeria , even 50 years after the civil war that pitched them against the rest of country had ended, 1967-70.