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Nigeria and presidential democracy: any better alternative? (1), By Hassan Gimba

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Nigeria and Presidential Democracy: Any Better Alternative? (1), by Hassan Gimba

This article on Nigeria and Presidential Democracy first appeared on September 23 2019. Because it’s first of a part as indicated, many people have been asking for its conclusion. Having been written almost two years ago, there is a need for it to be republished as a refresher before going further.

Since man became aware of himself and realised that whether by a mutual arrangement or contrived by nature there are always leaders and followers, communities fashioned out ways and means in which to live together under organized systems to regulate and conduct their affairs.

From primitive father figure leadership to animalistic instinct of the strongest leading the flock, man has experimented with many ways in which to live in harmony with one another and with the larger community.

Since then nations have tinkered with various forms some of which evolved into an absolute monarchy (absolutism), limited monarchy (constitutional monarchy), direct democracy and representative democracy. Others are dictatorship, oligarchy, totalitarianism and theocracy.

The presidential system of governance, which we based our 1979 constitution upon, and first practised in governance that year, is modelled after the American system.

The presidential system is based on a tripod – the executive, legislature and judiciary, with the head of government called president leading the executive branch. It is both a democratic and republican system of government with fixed tenures for elected officials.

The presidential system of government is seen as democratic because the president is directly elected by the electorate and is, therefore, directly answerable to the people. There is also effective control by the president and also quick decision-making and execution of government policies.

Another advantage is the stability it offers because of the fixed term of office and where to locate responsibility for any acts of commission and omission.

While it can be said to have such advantages, the presidential system tends to degenerate into a winner-takes-all ‘dictatorship’ with individual liberties taken away, citizens’ rights trampled upon and views of political opponents suppressed.

Other disadvantages include the very difficult processes for change of government before the expiry of tenure even if the president’s policies are not favourable to the people as well as the thin line between national and partisan issues.

There may also be strained relationship between the executive and legislature where the president may refuse to accent to bills from the legislature while the legislature, generally multi-party in composition, may not cooperate with the president in some of his policies. Then there is the possibility of distraction and loss of focus by the executive who may be consumed with the ambition of winning the next election.

Another type Nigeria has tried is the parliamentary system of government. Parliamentary democracy is the system in which the executive derives its democratic legitimacy from the confidence the legislature has in it, typically a parliament, and is also held accountable to that parliament. In a parliamentary system, the head of state is usually a person distinct from the head of government. This is in contrast to a presidential system, where the head of state often is also the head of government and, most importantly, the executive does not derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature. The head of government here is elected to power through the legislature.

One of the disadvantages of this system is that the government can be unstable. The prime minister is elected by the majority party and can be removed at any time if the majority party loses confidence in that person as a leader.

Another form is the semi-presidential or dual executive system of government in which a president exists alongside a prime minister and a cabinet, with the latter being responsible to the legislature of a state.

The Economist Intelligence Unit though does not see Nigeria as practising any of the above. In its Democracy Index of 2016, it rated Nigeria’s as a “hybrid regime”.

In its definition, a hybrid regime is a mixed type of political regime that manifests based on an incomplete democratic transition. Hybrid regimes combine autocratic features with democratic ones; they can simultaneously hold political repressions and regular elections. The term “hybrid regime” arises from a polymorphic view of political regimes that oppose the dichotomy of autocracy or democracy. Hybrid regimes are characteristic of resource countries (petro-states). Such regimes can be stable and tenacious.

Furthermore, hybrid regimes pay attention mainly to the decorative nature of democratic institutions (elections do not lead to a change of power, different media broadcast government point of view, the “opposition” in parliament votes the same way as the ruling party, etc.), from which it is concluded that authoritarianism is the basis of hybrid regimes, however, hybrid regimes also imitate dictatorship, while having a relatively lower level of violence.

We also have direct democracy or pure democracy which is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of currently established democracies, which are representative.

Switzerland is the closest state in the world to have a direct democracy where citizens may challenge any law voted by the federal assembly. Switzerland’s Executive, Judicial and Legislative institutions are organized on federal, cantonal and communal levels. Switzerland, unlike many other European states, does not have a president or a prime minister, and the country’s citizens are at the pinnacle of power.

Its legislature is comprised of the National Council and the Council of States. The Council of States consists of 46 members who represent the cantons. After every four years, citizens of Switzerland vote for 200 members to constitute the National Council. The two chambers of parliament undertake legislative duties, and their sessions in parliament are open for citizens to attend. Any citizen can challenge any law or amendments proposed by the federal assembly.

Six members constitute the Executive branch – the Federal Council of Switzerland. They engage in what can be termed as a collective presidency and are elected by parliament. Each of these members leads a federal department (ministry). The country’s seven departments are Finance and Economy, Education, Internal Affairs, Defence and Sports, Energy, Traffic and Environment, and Justice.

The question here is whether Nigeria is served well by the forms of government it has had. We have experimented with the parliamentary system. Though it was scuttled midterm by the army, even then Nigeria was already in deep problem and wobbling as a nation.

We then went through the journey of nationhood under the military jackboots and yet again returned to representative democracy that was also scuttled and we found ourselves back in the stranglehold of the military.

Our current democratic journey is the longest in our nation’s history. From the short-lived Abbey Westminster form bequeathed to us by our colonial masters to another short-lived presidential system in the Second Republic, adopted because America was the bastion of democracy, we have come thus far and we have the belief it would last.

However, cries of marginalisation rend the air. Placing partisan interests above national interests is the order of the day; divisions along ethnic and religious lines have set in and the struggle for power and its retention have taken a “do or die” dimension, affecting the neutrality of the judiciary, the last hope of the common man.

By the day, the gulf in communication between the average Nigerian and his representative in government widen so much it seems they live in two separate worlds with nothing in common, perhaps except religion and tribe or party and town.

Can we continue this way? Is it the fault of the system? Should we scout for a better system? Should we look inwards? Will a system in tandem with our inner being be the answer to our multifaceted and ever-growing problems as a nation? Perhaps we have been imposing on ourselves systems that are alien to us, to our culture, to our souls? We shall be examining this issue ahead, God willing.


Hassan Gimba

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Opinion

APC National Convention: it is irresponsible To Call For Sack Gov. Buni Led CECPC

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APC National Convention: It is irresponsible to call for sack Gov Buni led CECPC

Yusuf Ali

It is irresponsible to call for sack of the well constituted and highly celebrated action-packed Governor Buni led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, All Progressives Congress over the planned national convention of the party. Uptil now, the CECPC has not told anybody that it is not going to conduct the party’s national convention after it has successfully conducted Ward, Local and State Congresses as it said that it is only embarking on nationwide consultations with Party leaders and stakeholders to prepare the ground for a rancour-free National Convention.

It is very wrong for anybody to say that Governor Buni is holding on to the seat to score political goals. For the avoidance of doubt, Buni is a sitting governor that has his second term fully secured in 2023 if he decides to run. The people of Yobe state who overwhelmingly voted for him in 2019 are extremely happy and ready to return him to consolidate on the solid transformation of Yobe state as truly the pride of the Sahel.

Let me say that this call for the sack of the Governor Buni led Caretaker Committee amounts to playing dirty politics, and it is cheap and irresponsible. In fact, Nothing can be more irresponsible and reckless, as such a statement. Nobody in his right senses will call for the sack of the focused and result-oriented Governor Buni led Caretaker Committee.

The Governor Buni led CECPC was legally constituted by the 8th resumed of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress APC which constituted the Caretaker Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee in place of the dissolved National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. It has performed tremendously well in rebuilding and repisitioning the party for greatness. No amount of hysterical calls for resignation will prevent it from carrying out its constitutional mandate. As a progressive governing party guided by its rules, the CECPC will continue to take the right steps and follow due process in carrying out its activities, in this case the planned national convention is sacrosanct. The APC as a party for all will continue to act on its words.

Let it be known that the Governor Buni led CECPC is not in anyway against the conduct of the all-important exercise as planned it only wanted a rancour-free national convention. If some of the pending issues related to fallout of the Congresses in some states are not amicably resolved it will further polarise the party during and even after the convention. The focus remains that achieving and sustaining the APC Caretaker Committee’s peace and reconciliation core mandate wrapping up with credible national convention is all the more gratifying.

Before the CECPC, the governing party is on the verge of collapse and disintegration. As the Chairman of the CECPC, Governor Buni has been a steady hand in troubled times, and that explains why leading the governing All Progressives Congress at a most turbulent period, he has managed the crisis to bring peace to the party and safe it from disintegration, and even set it on a trajectory of success for the coming national convention and ahead of the 2023 general elections.

For a large and governing party with so many crisis points and conflicting interests like the APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni has always toed the line of compromise, temperance and internal democracy as well as tackled internal squabbles when they have occured as a family affair. He is a stabilising factor and voice that is generally accepted and has successfully forged a common ground among all the interests in the governing party.

Governor Buni is well positioned to stabilize the party and ensure synergy between the party, members and the government. He has shown a capacity to steer the party to stability and remains a strategic political asset to the APC and government.

Buni is not a dictator. As the Chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, because of his background, he has listened, engaged, accommodated and gave a sense of belonging to every member of our great party.

As a principled leader, Buni has always exercised persuasive powers and negotiating skills in the execution of his responsibilities. It is this power of persuation, tact and diplomacy that endeared him to his colleagues (Governors), and all the leaders of the party across the country.

He has brought his natural abilities as a gentleman, peacemaker and a stabilizing voice to resolve many disagreement and Internal conflict in the party.

Hon. Mai Mala Buni has ensured that meeting of party organs under the CECPC are held regularly. It is only when the party’s leadership meet constantly that it will agree and disagree on issues and resolve matters in the interest of the party.

Buni has used his position to ensure a strong and progressive party institution that will continue to make Nigeria great and will continue to bring the party together becsuse he is focused and knows the issues.

Hon Mai Mala Buni has written his name in gold as he takes on the bold steps in rebuilding and repositioning APC ahead of the national convention and the 2023 general elections.

He has designed a medium, and long term development of our strategies and internal organization to support our public standing as well as our chances of electoral successes in all future elections.

Yusuf Ali Media Officer APC Headquaters Abuja

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Gov. Buni Leading APC To Victory

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Gov. Buni leading APC to victory

Yusuf Ali

  1. Hon Mai Mala Buni is not a dictator. As the Chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, because of his background, he has listened, engaged, accommodated and gave a sense of belonging to every member of our great party.
  2. Hon Mai Mala Buni has always exercised persuasive powers and negotiating skills in the execution of his responsibilities. It is this power of persuation, tact and diplomacy that endeared him to his colleagues (Governors) and all the leaders of the party across the country.
  3. Hon Mai Mala Buni has brought his natural abilities as a gentleman, peacemaker and a stabilizing voice to resolve many disagreement and Internal conflict in the party.
  4. Hon Mai Mala Buni has prominent people from the North, South, East and West. It means he is a rallying point at the center.
  5. Hon Mai Mala Buni, the support he has flows from knowledge of the understanding of his person because he has been fortunate to work with his colleagues (Governors) and all the stakeholders, members and teeming supporters of the APC.
  6. Hon Mai Mala Buni has ensured that meeting of party organs under the CECPC are held regularly. It is only when the party’s leadership meet constantly that it will agree and disagree on issues and resolve matters in the interest of the party.
  7. Hon Mai Mala Buni has used his position to ensure a strong and progressive party institution that will continue to make Nigeria great.
  8. Hon Mai Mala Buni will continue to bring the party together because he is focused and he knows the issues.
  9. Hon Mai Mala Buni has written his name in gold as he take on the bold steps in rebuilding and repositioning APC ahead of the national convention and the 2023 general elections.
  10. Hon Mai Mala Buni has designed a medium, and long term development of our strategies and internal organization to support our public standing as well as our chances of electoral successes in all future elections.

Yusuf Ali Media Officer APC Headquaters Abuja

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Opinion

Re: Buni, Malami Move To Block Convention, Governors Rise Against interim Party Chair

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RE: Buni, Malami Move To Block Convention, Governors Rise Against Interim Party Chair

By Yusuf Ali

These days, so many people are saying so many things; indulging mostly in sponsored attacks, and ficticious lies in the pages of Newspapers on the activities of Governor Buni led CECPC, and as spokepersons, we make the deliberate choice of staying out of the most part because it is not worth replying.

But it is hard to ignore the above publication in the Punch Newspaper of 12 January, 2022 which, according to the reports, a party leader who confided to their correspondents is making the false claims that Governor Buni and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN are delaying the APC National Convention because he (Governor Buni) has a Vice Presidential ambition. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are concious of the devilish plans being orchestrated by some mischievous elements to cause disaffection between our leaders and to distract the Governor Buni led Caretaker Committee from it’s national assignments of putting the APC family house in order ahead of the national convention.

It is important to note that, at the level the Governor Buni led Caretaker Committee is working, there should be no need to be doubtful about whether our great party, APC will be having it’s national convention after successfully completed the Ward, Local and State Congresses.

It will be recall that after the end of the year 2021 meeting of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) on Monday, December 20, 2021 and in the APC 2022 New Year Message, both signed by the Secretary, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, there was confirmation that planning for the National Convention has commenced. Members and the general public have been put on notice that relevant committees will be setup. The only problem hindering the Governor Buni led CECPC to move to the next level is the unresolved issues of reconciliation in some states. Although the Senator Abdullahi Adamu led National Reconciliation Committee is working round the clock to meet it’s dateline, the reality is that it’s not advisable for the governing APC, a party with so many crisis points and conflicting interests to go for national convention with a divided house.

This is the truth of the matter and not the ficticious lies some people are dishing to misled gullible Nigerians.

For the avoidance of doubts, Governor Mai Mala Buni has not told anybody that he has a presidential ambition. These are mere speculations in the Newspapers. Governor Buni has accepted to serve as the APC Chairman Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) because of his love and loyalty to the party that promised brighter days for Nigeria and all Nigerians. He is contributing in this capacity to help develop a strong progressive party institution that can be impactful in the local, state and the national level. He has devoted his life, energy and time to be able to do that. When he is working rebuilding and repositioning the party, first thing comes first. We have to have a structure first. If people start with rebuilding a party today and deciding to become a presidential candidate tomorrow, actually you are trying to destroy the basis of rebuilding the party, because everybody will have ambition.

There are time for everything and Governor Mai Mala Buni has no ambition. As a practicing Muslim and faith in God, he knows that leadership belongs to Almighty God, He gives it whom He wills and takes it from whom He wills none has power to out pass His verdicts. But let it be known that Governor Buni has no ambition. He has not told anyone that he wants to be President or Vice President.

At this juncture, it is important to point out that Governor Mai Mala Buni is not an ambitious politician but a leader with all the qualities of leadership. It is on record that leadership positions and responsibilities was always entrusted on him because of his judgement and respected for his expertise, integrity, etc and hence followed and not because he hold a certain position. He was APC Chairman Yobe State, National Secretary and today by the special grace of God he is serving Governor and Chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, positions that he has never aspired but entrusted on him because of his leadership qualities.

At this level and time, what the Governor Buni led Caretaker Committee needs is support from across party ranks to achieve maximum reconciliation for the governing party to go for the national convention as one united family ahead of the 2023 general elections.

We must also acknowledged the marvellous achievements of the Governor Buni led Caretaker Committee, attracting three serving Governors to APC and reconciling many aggrieved members that added to the strength of the party. APC is growing in leaps and bounds.

As the Governor Buni led CECPC prepares for the national convention, we appeal to every party member and supporter to seek above everything else the unity and peace of this great party. The party must remain a strong political entity before, during and after the convention.

We should not forget the bigger challenge ahead of us in 2023, the presidential election without Buhari on the ballot. We cannot go into it divided nor can we win the trophy in such a state. We should all uphold the ideas of the party and give it unflinching support for it’s affairs as we journey into the national convention.

Yusuf Ali Media Officer All Progressives Congress APC Headquarters Abuja

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