This morning, Wednesday, 29th July 2020, I listened to the various comments by the electronic media, particularly the interesting discussion on Arise Morning Show anchored by Dr. Reuben Abati and his colleagues.
I have known Mamman Daura for very many years; when he was Deputy Editor of the New Nigeria Newspaper, when his friend, the late Mallam Adamu Ciroma was Editor. Mamman Daura later became the Editor when Adamu Ciroma was appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The newspaper became very famous during the trial of Andrew Obeya, a prominent public servant. Mamman Daura was not a politician or activist.
I saw Mamman Daura for the first time in Kaduna in 1975 when as Federal Commissioner (Minister) of Information, I accompanied Gen. Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of State, to Kaduna to commission a Low Cost Housing scheme popularly called Masa-Masa Project. Mamman Daura accompanied Mallam Adamu Ciroma and Col. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, as he then was, to the Guest House, at the Government House in Kaduna.
Mamman Daura has never held any notable political appointment to qualify him to be a political adviser to Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari on the affairs of Nigeria, which entitles him (Mamman Daura) to have permanent accommodation/residency at the Aso Villa, with his family, where politicians go to him, to lobby for political appointments.
It is therefore not true that he visits the Aso Villa to advise Mr. President. He resides permanently at the Villa with his family. This is what led to the open display of shame between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and Mamman Daura’s children. The First Lady Mrs. Aisha Buhari has severally complained openly of how her husband’s nephew, Mamman Daura and his family, keep harassing and interfering in the affairs of the first family. He is the leader of the ‘Villa Cabal’ and the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to Mr. President, Garba Shehu, is the go-between or the errand boy of the ‘Cabal’.
Mamman Daura as nephew to Mr. President has every right to speak on their family matters, because he is part of Muhammadu Buhari’s family. But he has no experience or qualification to give directives on Nigeria’s governmental affairs. The qualities of capability, competence, intelligence and transparent leaders and availability of such are not only in the North or in the South, neither is it the prerogative of one group or area. In fact, citizens with such qualities exist in each of the six geopolitical zones. In terms of size, each of the six zones is large enough; in fact, each zone in the country is even larger and more populated than some African countries.
The matter of zoning was sufficiently discussed at the 2014 National Constitutional Conference, which was attended by over 490 delegates, representing various aspects of the Nigerian public, including professional bodies, trade unions, market women, the physically challenged and the youths. And the essence was to give a sense of belonging to all.
The conference lasted for about four months and all decisions taken, where unanimous. The late Justice Idris Kutigi, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, was the Chairman of the conference and his Deputy was Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, former Foreign Affairs Minister. Mrs. Valerie Azinge, (SAN), was the Secretary and one of her assistants at the Conference is the present Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu. Six Hundred recommendations were made by the Conference, and submitted to Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the then President and Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria, who set up the National Conference.
The first set of recommendations was purely meant for Mr. President and his Executive to implement, which he did not do until he left Office.
The second set was for the President to submit to the National Assembly for implementation, while the third set of recommendations were purely a draft Constitution for Nigeria, which is meant to be considered, amended and approved by the National Assembly, and then finally to be submitted for a National referendum. This could have given to us a well-restructured Nigeria, with full devolution of power from the center to the other federating units.
Nigeria is made up of over 250 ethnic nationalities and many regional bodies.
That was why the Conference recommended that even at the State or regional level, the Governorship should rotate among the three Senatorial Zones of the State. A situation whereby one ethnic group, because it thinks it is lager, will use its size and population to dominate smaller ethnic groups in a State is unacceptable. And it is for this reason that some of us are recommending that the South Eastern part of Nigeria should now be allowed to produce the President of the country, now that it is the turn of Southern Nigeria to produce a President. The likes of Ahmed Bola Tinubu of the Southwest zone, a zone which has ruled this country at three different times with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo ruling as Military Head of State and as a democratically elected President, and Chief Ernest Shonekan as Interim National President, should allow the Southeast, which was also part of the three principal regions of Nigeria headed by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as first President of Nigeria from 1963-1966, the Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello and the Premier of Western, Chief Obafemi Awolowo as heads of the regional governments.
I have been accused of advising and misdirecting former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Yes, I agree that I advised President Jonathan, because I contributed to his becoming the President of Nigeria; first as Vice President in 2007, and when he became the Acting President during the absence of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who went to Saudi Arabia on medical grounds, but did not comply with Section 145 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as Amended, which states that “Whenever the President is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representative to that effect, and until he transmit to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice President shall perform the functions of the President as Acting President”
Since this was not done by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, because of the nature of his illness, some prominent Northern politicians opposed and prevented Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, from acting. And as a result, there was growing tension in the country. For instance, groups led by Pastor Tunde Bakare of Southern Nigeria demonstrated several times in Abuja demanding that Dr. Jonathan should function as Acting President of Nigeria.
As usual, former Head of State of the country, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, a man of peace and a promoter of national Unity based on equality of all citizens of Nigeria, invited some prominent leaders in the country to a meeting at the ECOWAS building. The meeting had in attendance former Heads of State including the late President Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Ernest Shonekan and former Vice President, now late, Alex Ekwueme; three former Justices of Nigeria including Justice Alfa Belgore, late Justice Idris Kutigi and Justice Mohammed Uwais; other prominent Nigerians including Gen. T.Y Danjuma (rtd), Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Ahmed Joda and late Solomon Lar. I was also one of them. It was during discussions at the meeting that Justice Alfa Belgore raised the issue of Doctrine of Necessity citing instances of where the Doctrine had been used where the Constitution of the country did not anticipate such event and, therefore, not provided for in the Constitution.
After elaborate debates, it was decided that we should adopt the Doctrine of Necessity. Prof. Jerry Gana and Senator Jonathan Zwingina of Adamawa State, who acted as Secretaries to the body, were asked to draft a letter to the National Assembly, recommending to them to consider the Doctrine of Necessity in order to solve the political impasse.
Gen. Gowon, who chaired the meeting, said that he will be leaving for Ethiopia immediately after the meeting, and asked the late former President Shehu Shagari to lead a delegation to the National Assembly and to the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan. That was how the Senate presided over by Senator David Mark, the then Senate President, adopted the Doctrine of Necessity, which was also later adopted by the House of Representatives presided over by Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole the then Speaker of the House. It was after that that President Goodluck Jonathan was directed to act as the President of Nigeria until the return of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
It is, therefore, unnecessary and insincere of the same Northern Politicians to say that they no longer believe in the rotation of the Presidency between the North and the South while this was the reason at that time they accused President Jonathan of breaching the rotation agreement that the Presidency should rotate between the North and the South, and insisted that the North should produce the President to complete the two tenures of 8 years of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
It was this grievance, during the 2011 Presidential elections that resulted to the crisis where many Southerners who were in the North, including Youth Corpers, were killed by northerners, particularly in Bauchi State, where ten Youth Corp members were brutally murdered including my nephew Mr. Elliot Adowie. In 2015, it was this same issue of rotation that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power, as there was great opposition from the northerners who insisted that President Jonathan should not contest the 2015 General Elections, because it was the turn of the North. Today, President Buhari is doing his second term.
So you can, therefore, imagine Mamman Daura and a few others like my good friend Professor Ango Abdullahi of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), who are now advocating for a competent President from any part of Nigeria and that rotation should be dropped.
A united Nigeria were citizens are equal and are qualified for any appointment in the governance of the country, is the only answer to a United Nigeria, a Nigeria where no region will continue to dominate the others is the panacea for peace. When Lord Lugard amalgamated the northern and the southern parts of this country in 1914, he did not say that one region should lord it over the others. One other reason and advantage of rotation is that it goes a long way to ensure the stability and security of the country, there will be that feeling of oneness and conviviality among Nigerians that all are equal citizens of this country.
Even if participatory democracy is built on trust and competence, every region in this country, has people with such credentials.
Let us not deceive ourselves.
•Chief Clark, former Federal Commissioner (Minister) of Information and Senator of the Second Republic wrote from Abuja.