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The Nigerian President

By: Ahmed Dodo

Published October 25th, 2010
“I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic” — John F Kennedy.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) outlined the qualification for the election as president in section 131 that: A person shall be qualified for the election to the office of president if:
(a) He is a citizen of Nigeria by birth
(b) He has attained the age of forty years
(c) He is a member of a political party and sponsored by that political party and
(d) He has been educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent.

But today in the same Nigeria one of the hottest and currently the most talked about topic is the question and confusion on whose turn, amongst all the geo- political zones in the country ,it is to produce the next president of the most populous rich black nation in the world.

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I have since tried everything in my power to find any part of this constitution where the issue of “power-shift” was outlined. I had searched the book prudently, thinking that I had not been too patient enough to go through the green book. But with my entire search which took longer than necessary, I never found this recently invented “power shift”, the current most controversial issue in our hard-earned democracy and what could be the watershed in our country’s survival and continuous togetherness.

After going through the constitution and carefully studying the agitations and claims by a selfish few amongst us-who are trying to suddenly change the status – that all a person need be in order to be the president of this great country is just to be a “citizen of Nigeria by birth”, irrespective of any of the geo- political zones the person might have come from. Who really cares anyway?

That is the big question. Who are the people really clamouring for this change to their geo- political zones alone or insisting that their party must zone the presidency to their purported region as if they are so sure that they will produce the next president or know what would happen tomorrow, and what exactly are their motives? Yes! This same old conservative people are closing their ears and mind to reasoning, forgetting that we all as a federation agreed with a pledge to work and abide by the laws in this revered book of ours.

Who are the people fighting to have a president from their purported zones, when all we need and are yearning for is “the Nigerian president” irrespective of the region he comes from. Who are these few self-appointed cliques, organizations, associations and groups shouting daily in the media, clamouring for a president from a zone, when God who gives and takes power is still in control. Who are these short-sighted men and women who have closed their understanding to some unchangeable facts on the ground – about what really makes us a federal nation today.

I am talking about those selfish few amongst us who have suddenly forgotten that we all fought a civil war to remain one indivisible nation. Those self-centred few amongst us who cannot comprehend that bags of corn, millet, yam, onions and baskets of tomatoes from the north still pass daily to the south and the other zones, as trade, establishing friendship amongst the neutral thinking Nigerians who just go about their daily businesses, not minding who is buying, a Yoruba, an Igbo or a Hausa.

Who are these visionless men and women amongst us who have closed their eyes to the sights of palm oil, garri, cassava, kola, and cocoa as they are transported daily by easy going Nigerians from the east, south, mid-west and the other geo – political zones in the country, building courtships and marriages.

My people, let’s ask ourselves questions like: are these people clamouring for this shift part of us? Are the other Nigerians from the other geo-political zones, popularly referred to as the ‘minorities’, ghosts or aliens from other planets? I mean what is the fate of that potential qualified candidate from Wukari, Beriberi, Angas, Fulfulde and that other one from Ogoni, the one from Itsekeri, Ijaw, Idoma, Igala, Ibie, Kataf, Birom, Okun, Ebira and the many others?

Are we no longer doing it for God and our country? Or is the constitution no more that legal book that guides us and part of what is written and accepted by us as a united federal country?
Who is it that can truly shift power amongst us, when none really knows what he will earn tomorrow? Or are some people trying to play God? Who are these one-sided thinking men and women amongst us who are refusing to understand that we shall all have to contend with our lawful rights, guaranteed to all of us by our maker?

My people, let’s listen to wisdom and understand that we can never achieve anything through agitations for separation, power shift or violence. For as rightly stated by Martin Luther King Jr that “Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.” Are those clamouring for a shift really truthful or could murder the many lies around us today? Those lies that have left many of our countrymen and women confused and impoverished and our youths unemployed! Those lies that a shift in power would bring a better Nigeria when the same “old captains” would be in charge of the ships, with nothing new to offer in the turbulent journey they have long taken us through! Is power shift what we really need now or a change?

Yes, change that only consistent feature that must take place in our lives, politically, socially or economically, whether we like it or not.

My people, have we not daily lived together, traded together, shared our gains, pains and sorrows together? Have not Emeka, Bala, Segun, Etim, Amina, Sarah ,Ada and the many others from all the geo-political zones in our country attended school together, worked together, ate together ,shared and exchanged ideas and vision of how to carry and move this great nation forward? Who are those talking about a president from their zones, when the president we are asking for is “ a de-tribalised Nigerian President” who could be an Efik, a Gbagyi, an Idoma, a Kaje, a Nupe, an Ebira an Okpella or someone relatively unknown from Koma.

True, my people, do we choose and give power, or is that right still exclusively in the hands of God, our creator, who makes and chooses all things?

Yes, we need a change – but we must choose this change wisely. We should be transparent and open to ourselves; to all Nigerians from whichever zones we find ourselves. Closing our eyes today might hurt us tomorrow. We should come together and allow God who has always been in charge of our destinies to choose a Nigerian President for us. This Nigerian who will be neutral in his policies and development plans, that President who will build a bridge or road, without injecting all the mago mago and wuru wuru that has characterized virtually all our policies and development plans.

That President who will have power and love, that president who will be for every one of us irrespective of tribe, zone, religion, gender or class; that true Nigerian President who will be ours and not theirs.

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