Former Presidential Aspirant of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) John Dara says Nigeria seems to have been blessed with visionless and mediocre leaders.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, recently in Enugu he claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari lacked the mental and philosophical capacity to address Nigeria’s numerous problems, saying that the president ought to have resigned for failing to address the senseless killings going on in the country.
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Why do we have a notion that at a certain time the North should rule and after, it would be the turn of the South?
There is a sense in what you are saying; however, rotation doesn’t just drop from the sky, it was canvassed in the several conferences in the past. I have been a resource person in two of such conferences and a delegate in two others and attended four national conferences in one capacity or the other. So, I know precisely the issues that led to our generally accepting rotation of power between the North and South as a convention. I want you to know also that in a pluralistic society, power sharing is always a problem; people always feel marginalized. The way to manage that is to introduce concepts like rotation of power and even federal character and things like that in other to make government more inclusive. Whether it had worked well for us or not is a matter for debate. What is important is that since 1999, there are facts that more southern or southern presidents have been in office for 14 years whereas the northern presidents have been in office for substantially less. Nobody says it is the turn of the North as priority, the North is incumbent now and if not for the poor performance of President Buhari it could have been taken for granted that he is going for a second term and he will be supported; unfortunately, he has not lived up to expectation. So, the North feels we may reject Buhari, but it doesn’t mean the North should not give it to another choice or alternative. In any case in one of the conferences it was recommended for the rotation of presidential power among the six geopolitical zones. So, if the man there now is from the Northwest, Yar’Adua was from North-West, then, the next president should come from either the Northeast or from the North central and things like that. So, it is part of pragmatic solution to our pluralism.
Nigerians are more skeptical that no president from the North will be courageous enough to restructure the country because the lopsidedness of the country favours them. What is your take as 2019 general elections approach?
Well, there is some truth in the fact that a section of northern Nigeria has been consistently opposed to restructuring. I believe it is reasonable to assume that anybody from that section of the North that has been consistently opposed to restructuring may not in the final analysis restructure Nigeria. Anybody may pay lip service to restructuring just to win election and the political will to make it happen will not be there. It is already well known that the Middle Belt is at the centre of the clamour for restructuring. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that the South initiated the call for restructuring because some of us felt that we were shortchanged in Northern Nigeria. We have been put in arbitrary disadvantage, like constituency delineation. It was obvious that there was deliberate gerrymandering, deliberate creation of constituencies to favour the far North at the expense of the Middle Belt and that is why we want Nigeria restructured. However, it is right to ask what is the content of restructuring we are talking about? Nigeria needs fundamental changes both in the administration and running of government. It is not only about devolution of power; the 2014 Confab report recommended creation of 80 states. It has become more controversial, especially in the light of poor performance of the states and their inability to operate in a more self-reliant manner. Then, the issues of viability cannot be ignored. Ideally, even a ward is viable as an economic and political entity in a world. We have both small and big town mayor’s in America; the budget of the Mayor of California is bigger than that of Los Angeles or budget of the Mayor of New York is bigger than the budget of many countries around the world; sure you will say that it’s viable, but there are small town mayors whose budget is less than that of a local government in Nigeria and they are balancing their books too. So, viability is about leadership and managerial ability. There are principles of municipal management that every serious government must understand and apply, but we don’t care about best practices i.e, why mediocrity hold sway in our affairs. I want to say that ordinarily all the states are viable, but the reality on the ground is that even the technocrats and professionals who should know better are talking about viability. I am surprised that all kinds of people are talking about autonomy of local government, including labour leaders, but the same labour leaders are very vocal when it comes to the need for true federalism. You can’t have autonomous of local government in a true federation, but it’s part of the intellectual weaknesses in our public discuss and we don’t see contradictions. My own position is that if the states are the federating units, each state must be free to create its own local government. There is no reason there should be a list of local government in our constitution.
Source: SUN NEWS