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North and burden of Zoning debate

By Hugo Odiogor,  Deputy Politics Editor
The declarations at the just concluded political summit in Kaduna State may have come as a new political realisation on the part of northern political elite that the social, economic and infrastructural development of the region cannot be tied to ethno-religious interest and cleavages given the fact that the North has dominated the political arena for over 35 years and has not progressed better than the South.

It is also important that the summit recognised the inalienable rights of Dr. Jonathan as a Nigerian to contest the office of the president in the Federal republic of Nigeria.  It follows the recognition of Northern political leaders that  the emergence of Dr. Jonathan in the presidency in the first place was on a joint ticket with late President Yar’ Adua and as such, he should not be harried out of office by advocates of zoning

These positions were informed by the irritable fact that the North has held power for 35 out of the fifty years of Nigeria’s independence. It has produced 60% of the country’s leaders. With the exception of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who is a Christian, the Moslems in the North have produced 99.9% of the leaders from that region, yet 50% of the population of the North are either Christians or believers in traditional African religious practices.

The North which consists of the 19 states  and the Federal Capital territory, Abuja, in the upper part of the River Niger is not monolithic.  In terms of ethno-religious composition, the region is split among the Hausa, Fulani, Tiv, Idoma, Nupe, Gwari, Birom, Kanuri, Mumuye, Babur, Jukun  , and many others.

In pursuing the zoning debate there is therefore an ethical question facing the Nigerian political class and that is the issue of absolute lack of faith in the country, its systems and institutions, value systems and leadership culture.

This manifests themselves in the perception and attitude of the political elites to rules and regulations. Nigeria is a country where the ruling class make laws that they have no intention to uphold. They make rules and regulations that are breached in observance. They live above the laws that they have made and exact maximum penalty on lesser mortals that offend the law.

The first National Chairman of PDP Chief Solomon D. Lar narrows the contentious issue of zoning to mistrust and deceits in the Nigerian polity. For him the political class has not earned the trust of its own let alone that of the citizenry. For him, until such a time when Nigerian politicians would learn to play by the rule and obey simple instructions, there will be contents like the zoning formula.

A former Local Government Chairman in Delta State and a PDP member Ogbueshi John C. Efianya said “There is lack of trust in the institutions that we have created as Nigerians  work seriously to sabotage any system that we put in place just to satisfy their personal selfish interests”.

That is the crux of the matter in the on -going debate between the North and the South over the power shift arrangement or rotation of power between the two sections of the country as envisaged by the ruling People’s Democratic Party. It is a debate that betrays lack of trust, sincerity and integrity.

It will not surprise anybody that those that are canvassing for electoral reforms that will produce credible election will be the very first people to vote money to bribe INEC officials, bribe the security agencies, pollute the media and secure fraudulent electoral mandates.

As a people we thrive in violation of the rule of law and take delight in the use of violence to settle dispute. Even when Nigerians are known to draft best  laws, covenants and constitutions, they make sure that they leave loopholes to enable them violate the document. In fact they become the worst violators of the same laws, agreements and constitutions that they produce. They create systems and institutions that they openly desecrate

The philosophy is do as I say and not as I do, it is an animal kingdom where all animals are equal but some are more equal than the other. As a class the political actors in Nigeria are still at such a level where they require a draconian institution as advocated by Thomas Hobbes since they do like to play by the rules. The acquisition and use of power in Nigeria by politicians from both sides of the divide is to showcase vanity rather than offer service to the people.

The seed of distrust may have been sown by the British colonial powers but the political elites have done little to erase it  which is what may have informed the conception of zoning in the first place.


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