CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK
Again, it is the accepted custom among nations that, from time to time, one pretext or other should be found for a social get-together between the Head of State and the foreign diplomats accredited to his country. In addition, foreign Heads of States may visit Nigeria either at their own pleasure, on our invitation, or in connection with important international conferences. While they are within OUR gates, they must not only be looked after and made comfortable by Nigerian protocol officers. Our Head of State must personally see to it that they are made to feel at home during their stay in Nigeria. Similarly.our own Head of State should, now and again, visit other countries for the purpose of promoting and strengthening our friendship with them.
In addition to all this, there will be a large and ever-growing number of public and social engagements of a domestic nature, in and outside Government in different parts of the Federation, which will make incessant demands on the tim|e and energy of the Head of State.
It is imperative that all the diplomatic engagements mentioned above should be fulfilled in order to promote hannonious relations between our country and other countries, and to enhance our reputation abroad. At the same time, it is also imperative that as many as are humanly possible of the domestic, public, and social assignments should be discharged in order to foster public weal and contentment at home.
This is not all. There will be a number of State ceremonies at which the Head of State will have to officiate virtute officii, in addition to performing such formal statutory functions as may be laid upon him by the Constitution.
It is our considered opinion that no Head of Government who is intent on an efficient and successful performance of his duties, especially in an under-developed country such as ours, can and should combine in himself the multifarious and essentially ceremonial duties of a Head of State, involving, as they do, so much pomp and pageantry.
Furthermore, the creation and perpetuation of a Father-of- the-Nation image, through the office of the Head of State, can be a tremendous influence in ‘the uniting and knitting together of the hearts’ of the various national groups in the country, No active politician – and a Head of Government must unavoidably be an active politician; however great his kudos among the people, can effectively personify the symbol and project the image of the Father-of-the-Nation to all the divergent and conflicting interests in the Federation.
From the foregoing reasons, it will be seen that the establishment of a separate office of the Head of State is a necessity. The expenditure of maintaining such an office will be more than offset not only by the undivided attention which the Head of Government will thereby be able to give to the problems of his office, but also by the goodwill which the activities of the Head of State will earn for the Government at nome and for the country abroad. _ In our view, there is nothing derogatory in designating the Head of Government Vice-President. There may well be a sobering and humbling ring about the title. If so, we must welcome it most’ heartily as a healthy and wholesome innovation in Nigerian and, indeed, African politics. The opportunity for unselfish service to the people should count far more with African political leaders than the title which is attached to a particular public office.
Under the old Constitution, each Region had a Head of State, known as Governor, in addition to a Head of Government who bore the title of Premier. We are unhesitatingly of the opinion that the office of Head of State in the Region is otiose and should be abolished. Its statutory functions under the old Constitution are very few, and they should either be transferred to the President or be taken over by the Regional Head of Government or his nominee on his behalf.
We have proposed that the Vice-President should be directly elected into office by the votes of the registered electors in the whole of the Federation, while the Governor should in his own turn be elected – also directly – by the registered voters of his Region. We have done this because the former system whereby it was possible for the Prime Minister of the Federation or the Premier of a Region’ to be elected or returned unopposed by a single constituency is most undesirable.
The defects inherent in the former system are serious and harmful. It automatically gives rise to a situation in which the Head of Government looks upon his constituency as the only ladder by which he climbs to power, and regards his party together with his colleagues in Parliament or Legislature as constituting the only solid ground on which the ladder is based. Three things, therefore, matter to him above all else: his constituency, his party, and his parliamentary colleagues. It is these three, in the Nigerian experience, which he most sedulously cultivates and nurtures, to the comparative neglect of the people under his rule. With theresult that he commits acts or lays himselfvulnerably open to charges of parochialism, nepotism, and narrow-minded partisanship. There have been instances in Nigeria of Heads of Governments who were little known, if at all, outside their own individual constituencies and the immediately adjoining areas, and who would have lost heavily in a country-wide or Region-wide electoral contest.’
CONTINUES NEXT WEEK