Former Ekiti governor, Kayode Fayemi, has ignited a debate on Nigeria’s political landscape, expressing concerns over the current system that allows a presidential candidate with only 35% of the votes to assume total control of the country. Mr. Fayemi made these remarks during an event celebrating Professor Udenta Udenta’s 60th birthday in Abuja.
In his speech, Mr. Fayemi called for a reevaluation of Nigeria’s political structure, emphasizing the need for what he termed “alternative politics.” He stressed that it is fundamentally unsustainable for a candidate to secure just 35% of the popular vote and yet wield 100% of political power.
Nigeria currently operates under a federal constitutional system where the candidate with the highest number of votes becomes the president, without the provision for runoff elections in case no candidate surpasses 50% in the initial round.
These comments by Mr. Fayemi come at a crucial juncture in Nigerian politics, coinciding with President Bola Tinubu’s 100th day in office. President Tinubu was declared the winner of the February 25 election with only 36.6% of the votes, while his main rivals, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, secured 29% and 25.4% of the votes, respectively, collectively representing 54.4% of the electorate.
President Tinubu’s narrow mandate has led to heightened tensions and a perception of illegitimacy among a significant portion of the Nigerian populace. The President has continuously called for national unity in the wake of the election results.
Mr. Fayemi argued that the existing system is contributing to the divisive political climate in the country and proposed the adoption of proportional representation. Under this system, political parties would be allocated government positions in proportion to their share of the popular vote, fostering inclusivity and reducing adversarial politics.
“We must look at proportional representation so that the party that is said to have won 21 per cent of the votes will have 21 per cent of the government,” Mr. Fayemi urged, adding that such a shift could help mend divisions and foster a more united Nigeria.
As Nigerians await the verdict of a panel adjudicating opposition lawsuits against President Tinubu’s victory, Mr. Fayemi’s call for political reform raises critical questions about the future of Nigeria’s electoral system and its potential impact on the nation’s unity and governance.