#Echoes In Nation Building: Resolving The Zoning Brouhaha
An English dictionary defines the word “zone” as “a given region or area of the world”.
In political parlance, a zone is a given area distinguished on the basis of common characteristics such as culture, language, norms or historical background. On this basis, Nigeria is divided into six geo-political zones, namely: South West (SW), South East (SE), South-South (SS), North West (NW), North East (NE), & North Central (NC).
The subject of presidential Candidature in Nigeria has always generated Political debate, agitation & controversy across the zones. The Nigerian Constitution does not prescribe which section of the country should produce the President at what point in time. The major opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) nonetheless, has it in its constitution to rotate power between the North & South.
Now, the two major Political Parties – All Progressives Congress (APC, the ruling party) & the PDP – are confused about whether or not to zone the Presidential ticket to the South or North moreso than a Northerner is about to complete his two terms allowed per candidate by the country’s constitution.
Political pundits & party leaders are bewildered & disarrayed as torrents of agitation pervade the political space. Certain geopolitical zones notably, the SE, NE and NC are claiming now is their turn to produce the next president. Their grouse expressed individually is that since the country returned to a civilian administration in 1999, no indigene of the NE or SE or NC has become the number one citizen.
In the SW, political juggernauts and party heavyweight are fiercely jostling for the number one position, each flexing their political muscles & financial strength. Within APC alone, no fewer than four prominent personalities from the SW had obtained the highly exorbitant nomination forms of the ruling party.
Another twist to the zoning palaver emerged recently as a voice from the NW (where the seating President, Muhammadu Buhari hails from) said in a video that the North still has four more years to hold on to power before the position of the president can return to the South. This outburst had rendered APC contenders from the South speechless and dumbfounded.
Periodic or incessant agitation for zoning of the presidency is directly & remotely induced by prolonged regimes of poor governance, in-cohesion, incompetence and pervasive impunity fostered in the nation by governments instituted on a Political Party basis. The hallmark of Democracy as government by the majority is unwittingly, inadvertently thwarted by the Political Party System which characteristically exalts the interests of the minority over the majority. Party System imposes the will of a clique, usually the moneybags over the masses. It clandestinely promotes dictatorship. The rostrums of political parties are reserved for the very wealthy. Its ways, methods & mechanisms are heavily monetized & deceptive.
POLITICAL DRAGONS IN ADAMU’S REVELATIONS
Talking about the ways of the party system, the National Chairman of APC, Abdullahi Adamu last week hinged the exorbitant price of the party’s presidential nomination form on the move to prevent PDP, the main opposition party from sponsoring an aspirant on the APC platforms. If this reason was the overriding consideration for pegging the presidential nomination fee at N100 million, then it leaves much to be desired. It portends grievous implications for Nigeria & democracy in general.
First, it implies that APC members cannot be trusted. In the reckoning of Adamu & the entire National Executive Committee & Working Committee, APC members are not worthy of any modicum of trust. Is it not acute foolishness therefore for Nigerians to hip their hope on Politicians to redeem the nation when party leaders had revealed none among them was trustworthy?
Secondly, Adamu’s revelation means that truth does not exist in party politics. A few months ago, Adamu, the National Secretary of APC, Iyiola Omisore plus other members of the Executive of APC were stalwarts of PDP. They had held Political positions even in elective capacity on PDP platforms, so they had tasted the pudding all around to arrive at the conclusion that truth is a scarce commodity in party politics.
Thirdly, it reinforces the fact that money is everything in the political party system. In other words, any politician can be bought over & assigned to wreak havoc even on opposition platforms. They are harbingers of evil plots & schemes.
Fourthly, it follows clearly that both political parties & their members have no principles, or sense of morality and live by none. It means that their rules and guidelines exist only on the shelves. To the politicians, loyalty is meaningless & so, allegiance is hogwash. This explains their profound penchant for infidelity & frequent crisscrossing over and over again. From the least to the highest, politicians’ paths with integrity are two parallel lines.
Another hard fact made manifest in Adamu’s disclosure is that individual or personal interest & gain takes priority among party men and women. Concerns for the nation are relegated to the back seat, little wonder, Nigeria is reputed for corruption and rated the poverty capital of the world despite billions of dollars being expended yearly by the government.
Following the scores of permutation, Political hypotheses, and theories and postulations saturating the Nigerian political space over the last few weeks, the two major Political Parties (APC & PDP), had thrown open their presidential nomination to all qualified Nigerians, thereby jettisoning zoning for now. Political pundits and observers are uncertain of what could happen next as the two parties pry on each other.
IMPLICATIONS OF ZONING
In itself, Zoning comes with a lot of implications. Among them are :
*It would lead to a rotational presidency either between the North & South (Zoning) or among the six geo-political zones (Micro-Zoning). Any of the two could result in deadlocks or spark fresh controversy. The population varies across the geo-political zones. Lowly populated zones like the SE & NE would find it difficult to elect the President going by the extant rules in the Constitution.
*Zoning promotes ethnic interests above the National.
*The best candidate for the job at any given time may never emerge on the basis of Zoning.
*It would exacerbate intra ethnic conflicts within each geo-political zone.
*It will boost Corruption in government as each zone would see the presidency as their turn to loot the treasury.
* It would weaken institutions & render them ineffective across the board. Attempting to probe an erring appointee for instance would be viewed as a witch-hunt or hatred for an ethnic group.
*Patriotism would be slaughtered on the altar of ethnocentrism & merits would die for mediocrity.
WHY GOVERNMENT HAVE FAILED TO DATE
The fabric of unity of Nigeria is very fragile. Since the country came into being in 1914, its ethnic components had been divided & disunited. Tribalism and ethnocentrism are highly pronounced in this populous African nation. Military governments held forth in Nigeria at different times altogether for about 30 years yet none could break this jinx of disunity. We had the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Republics under civil or democratic practice but the components could not be integrated hence the buzz for Zoning even at this moment.
Political Party Democracy has produced different governments in Nigeria for over 30 years under different Parties. Today, as popular as the PDP and APC are in the country, none of them has been able to integrate the nation throughout their 23 years of holding the mantle of leadership since 1999 till date. This calls for serious concern much as it is alarming for there are no signs of insight that the nation will improve on this path it’s been treading. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that Nigerian leaders, over the years, have largely been impervious to veritable ideas capable of bailing the nation out of its quagmire.
The leaders are aware that the system we practise has failed. Failed to deliver the dividends & core objectives of democracy; to impact human development; enhance local production and prosper the economy so as to reduce poverty. It has failed consistently to provide a regular & sustainable power supply for industrialization and thereby reduce the high unemployment rate. The system has failed to combat Corruption and impunity & instead had continued to promote these twin evils. It has failed to deliver the people from oppression in that it produces plutocrats – making only the rich access power.
Above all, it’s evident the pattern we operate has brought the nation down, failing to produce, stimulate or inculcate in the citizens such vital socio-political values like nationhood, patriotism, sense of belonging, harmony, national ethos and selflessness.
Prolonged disunity & individualism are stimulants of disintegration. Lack of integration brews mutual suspicion and distrust among ethnic groups. As of today, none of the 36 states in Nigeria, has been able to integrate its ethnic components. When it comes to electing representatives or contesting for power, filial ties are defined and redefined again and again among the people even within a State.
RESOLVING THE PALAVER ONCE & FOR ALL
Every nation has diverse ethnic constituents & so not limited to Nigeria. The ability or ingenuity to devise a suitable social formula to integrate all makes the difference. To resolve this PALAVER & integrate the citizenry, Nigeria needs a new Political architecture powered by an ideological elixir, good enough to neutralize ethnic consciousness & hegemony & fuse the people together by replacing the State of Origin with a State of settlement. Let the people be equal on the basis of citizenship. Party System discriminates against the poor, it should be replaced with the Professions in the nation. I call it LIBERTOCRACY.