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Power Succession: Constitutional Provision or Consociation Arrangement? By Mofe O. Jeje

Power Succession: Constitutional Provision or Consociation Arrangement? By Mofe O. Jeje New York[RR]New York–Power accession via consociation arrangement called power shift or at best rotational presidency, and the threat this poses to Nigeria’s delicate ethnic balance has added another dangerous dimension to the country troubled history. This unconstitutional arrangement gained ascendancy partly because of ethnic […]

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Power Succession: Constitutional Provision or Consociation Arrangement? By Mofe O. Jeje

New York[RR]New York–Power accession via consociation arrangement called power shift or at best rotational presidency, and the threat this poses to Nigeria’s delicate ethnic balance has added another dangerous dimension to the country troubled history. This unconstitutional arrangement gained ascendancy partly because of ethnic arithmetic and the dubious manufacture of the majority, which resulted in marginalization, unhealthy ethnic competition and a dangerous power monopoly; and partly because of the need to compensate the south-west Nigeria after the criminal annulment of June 12 presidential election and the eventual death of the acclaimed winner, late chief MKO Abiola.

Just like what happened in 2009 when there was a period of interregnum due to ill-health, rumors of death, and the eventual death of the late President Musa Yar ‘Adua, the current political cloud is gradually taking semblance and coloration of the same ominous signs. The unresolved question of where power lies with an incapacitated president who surround himself with friends and family members is here again to rattle our lack of foresight and level of preparedness in dealing with the issue frontally.

Like late Yar ‘Adua, the prolong absence of President Buhari due to ill-health is also, as expected, precipitating unnecessary power struggle and socio-political tension that defined the greater part of 2009 through the first quarter of 2010. An indication of this first came in a sinister attempt to denigrate the constitution. Unlike in previous instances when the vice-president Yemi Osibajo stepped into the constitutionally-mandated role of Acting President, there was an organized calculated attempt to relegate him to a Coordinator of National Affairs in order to prevent him from assuming this role. The furor engendered by this had barely abated when
another controversy brewed over who should accent to the 2017 budget between the Acting president Yemi Osibajo and his boss, who is in UK on medical leave.

It is to be noted that the present issue transcends Osibajo assuming the role of an acting president. The big picture is rooted in the interplay of where power is going to reside between the north and the south in 2019, as well as the irreconcilable conflict between the inevitable application of the “doctrine of necessity” as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution, and the desperate need to appropriate, full tenure of office under the consociational arrangement of power zoning, which death and health have incapacitated, as well as short-lived on the part of the north.

For this imminent disadvantaged position in the calculus of power equation, it is rumored that if President Buhari could not continue because of ill-health, and Osibajo is allowed to continue in his stead, he may likely put himself forward as a candidate and win the 2019 presidential election which may possibly shut the north out of power for the next 8 years. It is this palpable fear that has given rise to the reluctance of president Buhari to totally relinquish power during his absence, but instead, surrounds himself with his nephew Mamman Daura and figures such as Chief-of- Staff Abba Kyari, and Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) Lawal Daura, who are said to be in full control of the state apparatus.

Mounting pressure on the Acting president Yemi Osibajo to resign or step down, or even resorting to the extreme option of military coup intended, to terminate the government of Nigeria, remove the Acting president Osibajo from office, and put in place an interim government that will midwife the emergence of a strange northern candidate as being secretly planned, will surely boomerang, and unnecessarily heat up the polity to where no one knows. In this quagmire, the primacy of the Nigerian federal constitution is not negotiable and should prevail over any subsisting party constitution or consociation party arrangement. If history repeats itself, the only peaceful and legal way to stop Osibajo from putting himself forward in 2019, is to get a consensus through party machinery before he constitutional becomes the substantive president anointed to continue the remaining part of Buhari’s administration.

So, the projection that the north may lose 2019 if Acting President Yemi Osibajo is allowed to continue, just as happened in 2011, is a defeatist and a lazy political thinking. This is a poor pedestrian understanding of the undercurrents that may emerge and interplay on the road to 2019. Who says winning an election is automatic for an incumbent using the power of incumbency? At least President Buhari has disproved this in the 2015 election that brought him to power. If the north strategies and uses the party machinery to play its card well, who says an incumbent cannot be deny ticket at the level of party primary? Or if Osibajo wins party primary of APC, who says he will win other opposition parties without the support of the north. My advice is, stop whining! Go to the drawing board! The opportunities are there.

Credit: Mofe Jeje.
Mr. Mofe O. Jeje writes from Commonwealth Information & Action Network (CIAN), in the United States.

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