Salihu Nataro writes that the two eminent men will serve Nigeria with distinction

Sometimes last year, the scholarly elder statesman, Mamman Daura, volunteered an opinion that for 2023 and thenceforth, the presidency of Nigeria should no longer be zoned to geo-political units of the country but rather, it should be based strictly on merit. Whoever from wherever part of the country that thinks he/she has what it takes and a majority of Nigerians agree that that Nigerian has the suitable qualities for national leadership should be allowed to become president of the republic.

I am sure that it is because he operates at the national level that his advocacy was restricted to the presidency. If not, the time has come for all Nigerians to agree that we should jettison the zoning idea for all offices in the polity and insist that whoever steps forward to contest for any seat in the land should do so because of his self-belief in his personal qualities and suitability to provide leadership at the level he/she is seeking to serve.

I say this because Nigerians from all parts of the country have, since 1999, practiced zoning at many levels, even with the councillorship election in the wards, and all have seen the severe limitation of that idea meant to give a so-called sense of belonging to all. Nigerians have discovered to their chagrin that whether a position is zoned to the north, south, east or west, the quality of leadership has never been ennobling. The tendency by all the politicians to be corrupt, directionless and to enthrone mediocrity has been the same.

Surely, this reality demands that we should shift our emphasis from seeking to give everybody, irrespective of ability a chance and now demand that only those who have ability and inclination to lift the society from its present level of poverty and destitution to a higher level of prosperity and high-mindedness. The level of mediocrity we have so far witnessed in many places is simply suffocating. We cannot continue this way and hope to join the rest of the world in conquering hunger, malnutrition, diseases and poor living condition.

It is in line with the national call by the eminent citizen of Nigeria and being a living witness to the severe weakness of the zoning formula that I today make bold to suggest that while I am not in any way antagonistic to any Igbo man or woman aspiring to be president of Nigeria because their zone has not tasted it before, I wish to draw the nation’s attention to a pair of Nigerians that I consider very good for Nigeria.

The pair is Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the current Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mallam Muhammed Bello. Anyone who is fair-minded and who wants the country to make the type of rapid progress we all want Nigeria to make cannot but agree that Osinbajo is the person we should recruit as president in 2023 without a second thought as to where he comes from but based on his solid personal credentials as an able man capable of giving direction to Nigeria. Cerebral, humble, patriotic, obedient, and a loyal supporter of his principal, Osinbajo is very strong on the economy, one of the top qualities a candidate who desires to govern Nigeria and take her to the next level must possess.

If over the years we have, unfortunately, not learnt to forge a national consensus on most things, this time around, we must learn to almost unanimously agree across parties that Osinbajo is the man we should vote for as president. We should rally round Osinbajo not only because of the excellent personal qualities he possesses but also because of the experiences he has acquired as vice president under President Muhammadu Buhari serving him and the nation loyally and without any advertised friction as has, unfortunately, been the case with some other pairs at the helms of affairs of our country in some recent past.

To complement Osinbajo and balance the country’s political equation, I further suggest that the current FCT minister, Muhammed Bello, should also be brought in as Osinbajo’s deputy. Quiet but hardworking, frugal, broadminded and dedicated to duty, Bello today governs the most cosmopolitan political entity in the country and he has held sway in the FCT without ruffling feathers or a hail of unnecessary controversies. One of his most notable achievements is that he has initiated and vigorously pursued reforms that have led to major cost-cutting measures in the FCT which have saved the nation billions of naira.

The two eminent Nigerians have a few things in common which will cement their relationship and make them serve Nigeria with great distinction: they are both honest and dedicated to the service of Nigeria. What is more, they are both loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari who will naturally have a large say on who succeeds him come 2023. In a word, Osinbajo and Bello look like a natural pair created in heaven for Nigeria at a time like this.

Mallam Nataro is a governorship aspirant in Kebbi State