Although we started out with a parliamentary system of Government modeled after that of our colonial masters, the British, Nigeria switched to a Presidential system of Government, after the military intervention, in 1979. A democratic system of Government modeled after that of the United States of America, a country with which we share some similarities.
The U.S. does not elect their President by popular vote; it does so through what is called the Electoral College system, where each State gets a certain number of electors, based on its total number of representatives in Congress, which is dependent on the population of the State, in deciding the Presidency. The electors cast their votes to decide the winner of the Presidency based on how the people of their States voted in their Presidential election. It is something we do not have here in Nigeria but was designed to solve a problem similar to ours.
So, though the South in the U.S. has less voting population because slaves could not vote, they have more political clout through the Electoral College system. However, it helped ensure that either the North or South had a fair chance of producing the President. America has now, in my view, outgrown the initial problem, the differences between the North and South, that necessitated the Electoral College as even blacks that made up the slave population then have the right to vote now after the civil right bill was passed by President Johnson. In fact, anyone from any State that has the capacity and all it takes can win the Presidency anytime. Little wonder, Obama could be President in America.
Now, we have a similar problem in Nigeria that is even more complex than that of the United States. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi religious nation that is predominantly Muslims in the North and predominantly Christians in the South. As a solution, similar to what the Electoral College was set up to achieve in the U.S., we have an unwritten convention that the Presidency rotates between the Northern and Southern regions which have produced Northern Muslims as President and Southern Christians as presidents so far. MKO Abiola could have been a Southern Muslim President but that election was annulled in 1993.
Nigeria is a nascent democracy that very much needed the limited system of rotational Presidency to give every ethnic and religious groups (mainly the two major religions) a sense of belonging though I hope we outgrow this system soon as well. Although I am an advocate for religious tolerance, I am also an advocate for rotational Presidency as we have it now. Hence the next President in 2023 should be a Southern Christian.
Therefore, in the APC, the current Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, should be given all the support needed by relevant stakeholders to run for the Presidency of Nigeria in 2023. APC is stronger in the west. The PDP should produce a Christian easterner as its flag bearer as PDP is stronger in the east.
Bernard Ogboka wrote from Lagos.