Rotational presidency good but undemocratic, says Rimi

THE GUARDIAN Newspaper-Adamu Abuh

SECOND Republic Governor of Kano State and founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, has picked holes in the principle of rotational presidency between the South and the North.

Rimi said the idea is undemocratic but counselled Nigerians who are yearning for the unity of the country to be ready to chew this bitter pill for another 48 years.

Reacting to PDP's decision that the North should hold on to the Presidency till 2015, Rimi told The Guardian in Kano that it was in order because it would engender the needed peace and order in Nigeria.

Recalling how the PDP adopted the rotational principle in 1999, Rimi said: " We started doing this at the level of the party leaders at that time and by 1999, it affected elective offices. That was how former President Olusegun Obasanjo, from Abeokuta, Ogun State emerged the first president under the platform of the PDP. He was there for eight years and nobody complained until he wanted to extend his tenure illegally.

"And now, there is this understanding that after President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has spent his two terms of eight years, power would go back to the South again but I am sure that the South West would not vie for it because Obasanjo was there from 1999 to 2007.

"The next time, it is supposed to go to either the South-East or the South-South and through this rotational presidency idea, every part of the country would have produced the president of the country and this would augur well for the country.

"I have always argued that the rotation principle is undemocratic but in our type of country that is heterogeneous with several ethnic groups divided along regional sentiments, we have to allow this for sometime. I believe that by the time each of the geo-political zones of the country have a taste of the presidency for eight years apiece, Nigeria would have matured enough to stop the zoning system. I expect that after 48 years from now, Nigerians would be more patriotic to look for anybody who can work for the country without sentiments attached. We have seen this happen in the United States (US) where an intelligent African American, Barack Obama, was elected on his own merit and competence in a white-dominated society. I see this happening in Nigeria one day."

Asked whether PDP's position was in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, he retorted: "The PDP has a constitution, which every of its member must adhere to. We have a situation where in countries like Togo, Libya, Uganda and Gabon, where their presidents have ruled for as long as 40 years and we don't want that in Nigeria in the name of democracy and authoritarianism. We just wanted every part of the country to be carried along."

On whether the PDP's position is fair to the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, Rimi said the issue doesn't arise in the first place in view of the fact that both Jonathan and the ailing Yar'Adua were elected on the same ticket. "The president and the vice president were elected on the same day. In a situation where the president is indisposed, what is wrong in asking the vice president to act? Whenever the president is fit and well, he comes back to take his seat. That is why I say this confusion about succession is caused by the media."


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