Presidential System Has Failed Nigerians – Yakassai

Elder statesman, Malam Tanko Yakassai has canvassed a return to the parliamentary system of government in the polity. In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, he said the call was based on the fact that the presidential system has failed to achieve the desired result of ensuring socio-economic and political development of the country.

Yakassai spoke against the backdrop of speculations that some powerful interest groups in the north are already exploring how to install one of their own to replace the medically challenged President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to him, “I supported the creation of the Executive President in Nigeria believing that it would be the instrument to bring Nigerians together. But I now realized that instead of promoting national unity, and because of the enormity of the powers vested in the presidency, everybody now is not looking in terms of developing his own area but looking for that single seat of the president so that they would be in control. And therefore we have forgotten about the development of the country.

“We are all looking for power because it is there that you will get oil allocation, get contracts, get approval for the development of the road in your area and so on and so forth. So because of that I now have a change of mind that the executive presidential system in Nigeria is counter-productive. It is not helping the nation.

“It is not helping the unity of the people of Nigeria. Rather it is making people put their eyes on that single position and forget about the issues that border us as a country. So I am of the view that we should go back to the parliamentary system of government so that when you elect a President or Governor, you cannot remove him except though impeachment supported by two-third majority of the legislature, which is not easy to attain in Nigeria. But if you change to the parliamentary system of government, the stability of the government is in the hands of the parliament. If the government is not performing, through a vote of no confidence, a government can be removed and a new one installed.

“That would make people who are ruling Nigeria to think twice before they resort to embezzlement of public funds and so on as we now see happening in this country. The presidential system is an experiment but this experiment has not achieved the desired result. It has become a source of division among Nigerians.”

Yakassai who was Presidential Liaison Officer to former President Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic said it was wrong to compare Nigerian federal structure with that of the United States of America (USA) which had independent component states that voluntarily came together to donate portions of their powers to the central authority.

The politician who also served as a member of the 1994/95 Constitutional Reform Conference said that Nigeria which used to be a single entity conquered by the British in two installments of southern and northern protectorates from 1900 to 1914, was fashioned along the line of a unitary system of government due to years of the military intervention.

He said, “The states in Nigeria are not federating units. But in America till today, it is the states that are the federating units and each is entitled to breakaway because it was a single entity before the creation of the USA. Nigeria created the states whereas states created the USA. That is the difference. We must take cognizance of our history.

“The military intervention created a near unitary situation in Nigeria because the Commander-in- Chief appointed governors or administrators or whatever. That is one mentally that the political development of the country created in Nigerians. The second point is that originally, we were dependent on our own efforts based on agricultural proceeds. Then all of a sudden in our history, we woke up to find oil money, which we do not sweat to produce. And therefore we spend it anyhow. But the money is centrally collected and donated to the states.

“This is what is bringing about the maintenance of unitary psyche in our governance. As long as states are dependent on federal allocation, we would continue with this psyche. It is not a normal case but it is the reality of the Nigerian situation. Nobody can deny it.”



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