Warning Alert to Political Leaders: Compliance with the Federal Character Provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is not Dependent on Voting Patterns during Elections – Sylvester Udemezue
”Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past” (George Santayana). I woke up this morning (15/03/2019) and found the following comment FORWARDED as a private WhatsApp message to me by my bosom friend and very respected learned Senior colleague who is a notable party political leader in Nigeria and an Ambassador Plenipotentiary:
”APC did not win a single state in the Southeast (SE) in the governorship and Presidential elections, yet some people are asking the APC to zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the SE and the 2019 presidency of the Senate to the SE. Who will vote for the APC in the SE even if the presidency is zoned to the SE in 2023, when the APC is already an endangered specie in the SE? Why can’t some people reason logically? … I hope the SE learns to play national, rather than regional politics…You cannot play regional politics and politics of ethnic and religious bigotry and enjoy national acceptance.”
This article is a direct response to my friend.
I humbly suggest that in order that Nigeria may experience genuine unity and make concrete progress, concepts such as 97 per cent and 5 per cent must never again be allowed to have a space in our national or political life, or to guide our leadership decisions or attitude. Such concept destroy rather than heal, disunite us rather than unite us. Accordingly, any political party that wins in the general elections must ensure it carries every section of the country along. Compliance with Chapter Two (the federal character provisions) of the 1999 Constitution is mandatory and does not depend on voting patterns during elections. Compliance with the provisions is required in order to ensure equity and fairness and to afford every section of the country a sense of belonging.
Feeling of a sense of belonging is the most important requirement for an honest peace, strong unity and genuine progress in Nigeria 🇳🇬 . Take my words for it! It is either we wholeheartedly embrace it to make the progress we desire, or unwisely reject it to remain the way we are—- stagnant, stagnating, suffocating and directionless. Section 13(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), 1999 as amended provides that “it shall be the duty and responsibility of … government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter Two of this Constitution. Section 14(1) of Chapter Two of the CFRN, 1999 provides that “the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice” while section 14(3) states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Says section 15(2): “National integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.
Finally, according to section 15(4), “the State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.” One therefore expects a more tolerant and an all-embracing leadership during the 2019–2023 tenure of the party currently in power. I respectfully recommend that we look at what I told Mr Paul Usoro (SAN) on 22 August 2018 in a paper I tilted, ”NBA 2018 Elections: A Word of Congratulation, Caution to Winners and All,” published on the same day: ”… endeavour to carry everyone along in your [leadership], …. This you have to do in order to succeed. Your supporters alone cannot make you succeed; they can only make you remain for only one side! Which would mean that, unfortunately, you are not for all, but for only some! This is the greatest of all of Nigeria’s problems – the wrong notion that only those who helped us to ascend the throne could make us succeed on the throne! As Michael Watson once advised, true winners and strong people don’t put others down, they lift them up. Leaders that aim to succeed must adopt all-inclusiveness as their motto, so as to be able to create an environment in which all individuals and sections feel empowered to express their opinions freely within the larger group. Leaders ought also to realize that diversity of thinking is critical to effective collaboration and management; thus, they must pay close attention to team composition and team processes in order to fish out all capable hands to work with for success“
See <https://legaldilemmasconsult.com/nba-2018-elections-a-word-of-congratulation-caution-to-winners-and-all/> accessed 15 March 2019. I wholeheartedly and honestly recommend that write-up and suggestion to the current APC-led National Government. And to all that lost in the 2019 elections. It is my unsolicited advice to all. Although it is said that giving advice is a thankless exercise, yet there’s one obviously interesting thing about advice; this is well-captured in the words of Matshona Dhliwayo: ”Bad advice will blind you, good advice will instruct you, excellent advice will enlighten you, and transcendent advice will elevate you.” Accordingly, as suggested by an Indian author and entrepreneur, Mohith Agadi, when one sees good advice, one should not only listen to it, but should also take it. Our hope and progress as a nation would begin only when we learn to carry every section of our country along, to treat everyone as a part of us and to act as one big family, not as separate ones, to eschew segregation, exclusion, clannishness and nepotism in governance. In his farewell address at the end of his eight-year tenure as a President of the USA, William Jefferson Clinton (Bill Clinton) had offered the following suggestions to the residents and people of America. I recommend it to us. Says he:
“… we must remember that America cannot lead in the world unless here at home we weave the thread of our coat of many colours into the fabrics of America. As we become ever more diverse, we must work harder to unite around our common values and common humanity. We must work harder to overcome our differences. In our hearts and in our laws, we must treat all our people with fairness and dignity, regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”
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