The highly influential nephew of the President Muhammadu Buhari , Mamman Daura, in a rare interview with the Hausa Service of the BBC, on Tuesday, suggested an end to zoning.
He said his uncle’s successor in 2023 should be chosen based on competence rather than simply which part of the country he hails from.
According to him, since Nigerians have tried the rotational presidency about thrice already, it would be better to go for the most qualified candidate.
This, he said, would be better for the nation’s unity.
When asked about his relationship with President Buhari, he said, “He is my uncle, he is my father’s younger brother. My father is the first born of their mother and General Buhari is their last.”
In response to another question whether it was true that he and the president spent their younger years together, he said, “It is true we are together.”
Asked if he visits the president to greet and offer advice now that Buhari is in power, he said, “Yes, I usually go and visit and offer advice. If he asks me, I offer advice but I don’t just go and tell him what to do; you don’t do that with the government.”
On issues relating to the 2023 Presidential Elections, Daura, who obviously believes the rotational presidency which began in 1999, has outlived its usefulness, said, “Rotation has been done once, twice and three times-it is important that this nation should be united as one, the most qualified/ competent (among aspirants) should be elected and not someone who comes from a particular zone.”
Reacting to Daura’s suggestions, elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Mohammed in a telephone interview agreed with Daura.
He said, “If you are talking about democracy you must allow free choice. Competence, integrity and truthfulness must be the kind of qualities to look for in a leader.
“I hope those who have now seen the light are sincere. We have to accept that zoning and rotation which we have practised for over two decades has not worked. The ultimate test of any process is if it has delivered.
“You don’t choose people to lead on the basis of returning a favour. All the leaders we have produced based on this faulty premise of rotation have not delivered why should we continue with it?”
The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria who is also a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Enugu State, Osita Okechukwu, is however of the view that the emergence of a President of Igbo extraction was required to strengthen Nigeria’s bond of unity.
He said, “My views on this issue are known, the clamour for a president of Igbo extraction is to strengthen the bond of our nationhood.
“Recall that the rotation or zoning convention was founded by patriots who placed national interest above self in 1998/ “99 because of the June 12 imbroglio.
“The PDP as a political party was merely a beneficiary because the contest in 1999 was really between the PDP and the defunct Alliance for Democracy/All Peoples Party Alliance.”
Also speaking on the issue, the Director General Nigeria Political Summit Group, Olawale Okunniyi, said Mamman Daura’s suggestion was not out of place on the face of it.
He, however, said “Nigeria, was not yet politically mature enough at this time to jettison zoning and rotation because other component parts of the country whose turn it is to produce president in 2023 will consider such actions as an affront on their political sensibilities.
Okunniyi also cautioned that, “Any attempt by Daura and co to foist this agenda on the country may backfire as it’s likely to throw the country into political division, civil strife and political instability.