Chief Olu Falae, a former national chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), on Tuesday came down hard on proponents of zoning for the 2023 presidential election, saying their ambition is driven by pecuniary and selfish gains.
Speaking with Daily Independent, the former presidential candidate of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) said that the clamour for restructuring is inevitable if the nation is to make meaningful progress.
He said daily talks about which zone will produce Nigeria’s president in 2023 has made the country a laughing stock among comity of nations.
Falae, who said that restructuring of Nigeria is long overdue, noted that until something was done in that direction, peace and development might continue to elude the society.
He said the experiences of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari has shown that any area that produces the presidency stands to gain nothing if the country is not restructured.
He said while Obasanjo’s presidency did not benefit the South-West in anyway throughout his eight years in office, residents of Katsina State, hometown of President Buhari, are currently living in fear due to attacks by bandits while the monarchs have fled to Abuja.
“The question of rotating presidency is shadow boxing. It does not address the real issue confronting Nigeria. Where the president comes from does not solve the problem of Nigeria. For example, Obasanjo, who was my former boss was president of Nigeria for eight years.
“Has his presidency of eight years solved the problem of the Yoruba today? Are we not being kidnapped? Was I not kidnapped? Is there no hunger, unemployment, insecurity, poor infrastructure and so on? Has his presidency solved our problems at all? Are things not getting worse? What then is the relevance of where the president comes from?
“People who are shouting about where the presidency comes from are members of the elite like myself who are hoping that either they or their friends will become president, then they will be able to make a lot of money in the process. That is their only motive for insisting on where the president comes from.
“Today, Buhari is the president of Nigeria and he is from Katsina State in the North. Presently, traditional rulers from Katsina are in Abuja, they can’t stay in their homes in Katsina. Is Buhari’s presidency solving the problem of banditry, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty and insecurity?” Falae asked.
He said as long as the country is not restructured, an area will not develop even if it produces the president for 50 years.
“Let people stop deceiving us about where the president must come from. Until we restructure Nigeria and restructure opportunities, power and resources and people can develop themselves, we are just wasting our time. You can choose the president from the same state from now till the next 50 years, the problems in that area will still not be solved”, he said.
Falae, who insisted that true federalism of Nigeria holds the ace to the nation’s stability and economic prosperity, added that recent developments in the country have given credence to the fact that there is no better time to restructure than now.
Describing zoning as irrelevant, he added that Nigeria will continue to slide dangerously along the path of anarchy and total disintegration if it is not urgently restructured.
“Zoning will always be an irrelevant matter without first of all going back to the political arrangement we inherited from the British which we used for the first six years of independence, which favoured and developed Nigeria. That is what we must go back to.
“That is what we call restructuring but the illiterates say they don’t know the meaning of restructuring. Restructuring is going back to that which we negotiated and inherited from the British which was supported by Awolowo, Sardauna, Balewa and accepted by all the leaders.
“This developed Nigeria and brought peace and competition among the regions. That is what we should be talking about and not where the president comes from. Some people are still going about in the night killing people on their beds, burn their crops and kidnap them.
“We have become a laughing stock to the rest of the world by talking about where the president will come from. He can come from anywhere in the world. We can go and borrow him from Ghana”, he said.