Nigeria should switch back to a parliamentary form of government, according to Prof. Ango Abdullahi, the convener of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), who also noted that the current presidential system of government has disastrously failed the nation.
Ango, a former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, said the presidential system of government in Nigeria kept recycling politicians from 1979 to date without adding any value to the development of the country in all indices.
He added that many “so-called presidential candidates or politicians” had been members of various political parties at one time.
“Under any indices you want to discuss the progress of Nigeria you find out that the country has not made that progress that you like to commend and attach to the system that it has used for the last 24 years,” Ango explained in an interview with Saturday Sun.
“I am not satisfied with the system that is being used now to bring up candidates for election and eventually candidature for elections translate into executive responsibilities from President down. The system has not served our interests very well. Particularly, I have criticized the mistake the country made by adopting the presidential system of government. And this is what we are struggling with now.
“We tried the parliamentary system for only five years. We disbanded it, or it was disbanded by some people without consulting Nigerians. Eventually we are forced, more or less forced, to say that we should go and borrow presidential system whether from France or from America.
“And that we have done since 1979, when President Shehu Shagari was elected under the system. And now for almost 24 or 25 years, we have been trying the presidential system of government and l wonder if those who criticised the parliamentary system have something to say whether it was worth our while to change from the parliamentary system.”
He added, “I am still an advocate that Nigeria still needs to re-examine itself politically, and we have to really, realistically, be honest and say, Have we succeeded with the presidential system that we borrowed from America or somewhere else that we have tried for 24 years vis-à-vis the parliamentary system, which we used for only five years, that our fathers have successfully used in really setting up the presidential system of government that we are asking for now?
“You people talk about restructuring and true federalism. We had it, but it was destroyed from 1966 on, and that’s where we are now. “So I want us to go back to the drawing board and have another look at what we were, where we are now, and where we want to go in the future,” he said.
Speaking on the presidential candidates and the manifestos they are selling to Nigerians, the elder statesman said there was really no difference among the candidates.
“There is no difference between the candidates in terms of really addressing the issues facing Nigeria.” They talk about the same thing. The ideas that will push Nigeria forward are not within the system in which they operate, and that’s why they keep pushing themselves. And if you look at many of the so-called candidates or politicians that are running around the country, many of them have been members of various political parties at one time.
“So if you take each and every one of them individually and examine their historical antecedents in terms of politics, he was in party A last year and is in party B right now.” Before you realise it, maybe next year he is in another party. So what in most cases they are chasing is to chase a targeted ambition of being elected either as president, as governor or as senator and so on rather than targeting an ideological position concerning the people of the country, meaning concerning the voter or the electorate.
“So this campaign, to me, is recycling a system that has failed for the last 24 years.”
On the view that a Northerner should not succeed President Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president, the former Vice Chancellor faulted that view insisting that Nigeria’s laws do not oppose such.
“There is no law that I know of that you can associate with the constitution of Nigeria as to whether I have a right to contest an election at any time or a right to vote at any time.” So all this talk about a northerner having just finished, a Nigerian having just finished, and another Nigerian, whether from the desert or from the lagoon, could come forward, If he is good material, everybody should vote for him.
“There is no law stopping me from contesting elections unless that law is, for example, in the constitution, which says that I cannot run for president beyond eight years continuously.” That one l know, but there is nowhere it says l cannot run for president because my brother, sibling – and l am talking here about blood brother – was president, or somebody coming from my village has become president before, or from my town or from my area. The legal system does not speak about that. “These are some of the problems we have in the country today.”