Insofar as the axle of political contestation in Nigeria is the struggle for power between the northern and southern elite blocs, systemic stability hinges on the moral understanding that power will rotate between the two regions.
The order of succession since the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999 has largely followed the logic of this entente, starting with the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency (1999- 2007), conceded to the Southwest as compensation for the tragedy of Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the generally acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election.
Whether each side has been faithful to the terms of this understanding depends on who is doing the analysis. Although Katsina-born Umaru Musa Yar’Adua duly took the northern turn as Obasanjo’s successor in 2007, his unexpected passing in May 2010 and the accession to power of Goodluck Jonathan, his vice president, meant that, in reality, what should have been a northern term of potentially eight years was truncated to three. Northern desperation to keep Yar’Adua in office despite his failing health, and, following his transition, to extract every ounce of assurance that the incoming Goodluck Jonathan would only complete a singular term, was driven solely by the legitimate need, from a northern standpoint, to recoup its loss.