The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, on Friday, called for the return of power at the centre to the Southern part of the country, come 2023 general elections, Page 36 learnt.
He stated that there is a need for fairness in the country, adding that, marginalisation has become the loudest concern from the citizenry.
Governor Zulum spoke in Lagos, at the 17th Chief Gani Fawehinmi Annual Lecture, themed: ‘The constitutional history of Nigeria’s dysfunction: Any pathway to indivisibility and common progress?’, organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja Branch, to celebrate the life and times of the late Fawehinmi.
Governor Zulum was accompanied by some State Commissioners and Special Advisers.
His words: “I am persuaded that other sections of the country should be given the opportunity to lead in 2023, why not? It is constitutional.”
The Borno State Governor, who reeled out the criteria set by the Constitution for anyone to contest for President, as contained in Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, asked all the persons from the South-East and South-South at the event to rise. He then told them that once they meet the four conditions stated in the Section, they are also qualified to contest for President of the country.
The section reads: “A person shall be qualified for election to the Office of the President, if (a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; (b) he has attained the age of forty years; (c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and (d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”
Governor Zulum speaking further stated: “Consequently, my response to the question posed by the theme of this programme is that yes, there are pathways to indivisibility and common progress; we must collectively agree that we need to do more to demonstrate fairness to every constituent part that made up this country. That is the Constitution.
“We need to understand that pedestrian suspicion is not an empirical or legal reason to deny any section of the country from participation in the Leadership of this country. We are fast moving towards a point of inevitable tension.
“One of the loudest concerns from the public is marginalisation. Therefore, we must as a matter of necessity create an environment that is conducive for everyone. People must feel the impact of the government and that government is responding.
“To our friends and brothers in the South-South and South-East particularly, only God gives power, but you have to negotiate for power. Negotiation becomes easier when you make friends across the divide. If we negotiate for power, we do not always get everything we want, but we will normally mention every clause that covers everything we need.
“I said this because I have heard many people say ‘they do not want to give us power’, but assumptions and projections will never actualise your aspirations. We must all remember that God gives power, but human beings negotiate for it. Every interested party must be prepared to negotiate for it.
“Let me state here that I have a problem with the age limit set at 40, because whatever is the logic behind it, it is difficult to consider it valid in contemporary times.”
He cited several examples of Presidents or Prime Ministers who got to power under the age of 40, including President Emmanuel Macron, who became the President of France at the age of 39; Sanna Marin, who became the Prime Minister of Finland at 34; and Joseph Muscat who became the Prime Minister of Malta at the age of 39, among many others.
He added: “We must review our Constitution to reflect this current reality in our country, and provide greater access to the greatest number of our citizens.
“If governance were to be a religion, the Constitution would be its holy book. You know your Bible, you know your Quran, know your constitution. Gani Fawehinmi fought for a people’s Constitution. We cannot let him down. Let us work to build bridges and drive a people-oriented Constitution that would make Nigeria better for everyone.
“We must make the constitution of Nigeria work for all Nigerians, and not just some Nigerians. Our system of government must give people a voice, while delivering services to them, including security of lives and property.”
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