Constitution Review: Stakeholders Intensify Calls For Rotational Presidency


The House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review recently received a bill for an Act to make provisions for rotation of power among the geo-political zones, senatorial zones and federal constituencies in presidential, governorship and senatorial elections in Nigeria.

This stems from cries of marginalisation by different regions of the country and some localities even within states.

DAILY POST reports that the bill which was sponsored by member representing Apa/Agatu Federal Constituency, Benue State, Ojema Ojetu, if passed and assented at the end of the review, may bar zones that have produced the President of Nigeria since the return to democratic governance in 1999 to allow other zones.

According to the copy sighted by our correspondent, the bill would alter Section 133 of the constitution by inserting some sub-sections to the nation’s extant laws.

Sub-section 2 of the proposed law opined that “The Office of the President of Nigeria shall revolve round the six geo-political zones, with each state holding the office for a maximum of two terms of four years each, to give every section and state in Nigeria a sense of inclusion, participation and representation in Nigeria’s democracy.”

Sub-section 3 reads, “Any zone in Nigeria which has produced a President of the Federal Republic shall not be eligible to produce another President until the other zones take their turns.”

Sub-section 4 says, “The effective date for consideration in the rotation of power shall be 29th of May, 1999 when the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) became effective.”

Meanwhile, sub-section 6 says “The office of the governor of a state in Nigeria shall revolve round all the three senatorial zones in the state, to give every indigene of the state a sense of inclusion, participation and representation in the development of the state.

Sub-section 7 states that “Every senatorial zone in a state which has produced governor of that state in a democratically conducted election shall not be eligible to produce a governor, unless and until other senatorial zones produce governors of the state.”

DAILY POST reports that since the country returned to democracy in 1999, only South-West, North-West, and South-South had produced a Nigerian President.

While Olusegun Obasanjo from South-West was elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2003, Late Yar’ Adua from Katsina State, North-West succeeded him in 2007.

Goodluck Jonathan from South-South succeeded Yar’ Adua and handed over the mantle of leadership to Muhammadu Buhari, another North-Westerner.

The current Nigerian leader, President Bola Tinubu from Obasanjo’s region (South-West) succeeded Buhari in 2023.

Some stakeholders, who spoke to DAILY POST on Saturday, expressed support for the bill, saying it was long overdue, considering the ethnic violence that usually erupt during general elections.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko lamented that the rational presidency ought to have been a law since the country returned to democracy in 1999.

Onwubiko told DAILY POST on Saturday that even some political parties that earlier adopted zoning to enable rotational presidency failed.

While declaring support for the bill, Onwubiko, however, expressed pessimism that the bill may not get the nod of the majority of lawmakers.

He said, “The concept of zoning of political offices even made it into the constitution of some political parties, including the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party which dominated politics for 16 years from 1999 before the All Progressives Congress came on board in 2015.

“Unfortunately, even the PDP failed to uphold this critical aspect of its constitution and for over two times, conceded its Presidential ticket to Atiku Abubakar even when the Eastern zone of Nigeria has never gotten to the office of executive President since independence.

“So, for the purposes of social justice, we may give the bill for rotation of political offices some form of support. The problem is that politicians in Nigeria are not known to follow the law so they will undermine that provision of the bill.

“Some may even get it quashed in the court of law. The best way to safeguard the objective of such an idea is to include it as part of the amendments of the Nigerian constitution so it may be difficult for politicians to abuse.

“By and large, that bill should be included in the current process of amendments of the Nigerian Constitution”.

Similarly, the factional Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro told DAILY POST on Saturday that the bill, if passed into law, would ensure the sustainability of Nigeria’s democracy.

He said, “in a momentous stance, Ohanaeze Ndigbo throws its weight behind the bill advocating for the rotation of power as a pivotal step towards stabilizing Nigeria.

“With all eyes, especially those of Ndigbo, keenly observing the progress of this bill, the proposed provisions for the rotational allocation of power among various geo-political zones, senatorial zones, and federal constituencies in presidential, governorship, and senatorial elections hold immense significance.

“Ohanaeze commends this progressive development aimed at breaking the cycle of ambitious politicians exploiting weak state institutions to wangle their way into power through collusion with cabals, corrupt INEC officials, and clandestine networks.

“If enacted, this bill will not only put an end to the incessant over-recycling of power-hungry individuals but also prevent the dominance of powerful tribes, clans, and factions over marginalized groups at the national, state, and local government levels.

“We hail this opportunity as a crucial step towards upholding the unwritten pact of the Rotational Presidency, transforming it into a binding legal instrument.

“This legislative move is vital for ensuring democracy’s sustainability, eradicating ethnic hegemony, and fostering a more inclusive political landscape where all regions have an equitable opportunity to lead”.

Also, a chieftain of the ruling APC, Mailafia Gwamna lamented that the North Central had only produced military Heads of State but never an elected president since 1960.

Gwamna, a native of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, told DAILY POST, “It is a good thing that the bill is coming up now but this law should have been enacted immediately when Nigeria exited military rule.

“Since 1960, North Central, comprising the FCT, Benue, Kogi, Plateau and Niger State have not produced a Nigerian President.

“This is not correct. We are all Nigerians and everybody needs to have that sense of belonging. How do I even tell my children that one day they can become president?

“Since 1999, the presidency has been going round the South-West, North-West and South-South. So, it will be a thing of joy if the bill scales through, but we should not put our hope in it, otherwise, we will be disappointed.”

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