November 7, 2021

POWER ROTATION: North’s blackmail, southern gov’s treachery and parties’ macabre dance [Opinion]


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By Olise Imegwu

Dr Sigmund Freud identified two ways to achieve a goal. One is the long way through hard work and the other is the shortcut through gambling, a PACT with the DEVIL, a tack presently being followed by the Governors and their parties.

Those bent on the ignorable act of discarding the consensus position by the parties in the nation and the bipartisan declarations by the Southern Governors at Asaba, Lagos and only recently at Enugu, the adopted capital of the Eastern Region, have entered a pact with the devil, a quick return for their vaulting selfish ambition. 

The leopard, they say, never changes its colour. If you recall, in 2005, 16 years ago, at a conference in Enugu, such an ignorable act was carried out by them. In other words, the 2021 voltre face by the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led PDP Zoning Committee, is the same as that of 2005. 

If you recall, Southern leaders at the Conference in Enugu agreed that the presidency should be zoned to the South-South or South-East Region but inexplicably made a voltre face to campaign for a THIRD TERM for president Obasanjo who was from the South West Region. 

Governors Peter Odili, Donald Duke, Orji Uzor Kalu and Attah who were aspirants felt betrayed. 

Enugu State appears to be gaining notoriety as the jinxed capital of the Southern Region’s quest for Rotational Presidency. While the 2005 treachery and betrayal was in the family, 2021 was a national calamity. Pity for the South East Region. No wonder it has become habitual to marginalize it in the areas of a number of states and a share of the coveted office of the president of Nigeria. 

As in Enugu 2005 conference, their son, Governor Ifeanyi Uqwuanyi, presided over the zoning of the presidency to the North. Of course, the South East by this singular act of cowardice and betrayal of his people has ruled itself out of the contention for the presidency come 2023.

What the hell has befallen these leaders in 2021, particularly the PDP, in a repeat of this sordid and odious act of betrayal. 22 years ago, precisely in 1998/1999, its NEC agreed and inserted the principle of ZONING in its Constitution.

It has since been in use by the party up till the tenure of Presidents Shehu Yar Adua and Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and now President Muhammadu Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo of the APC.

It is not only a breach of trust, unpatriotic and dis-ingenious for the Northern Governors and their Emirs to now argue that ZONIG observed and embedded their respective parties’ Constitution since 1999, which is unconstitutional. Alas!

Where and when a people acquiesce in the denial of Justice, there is the corruption of the institution and aberration of patriotism, relief to mankind recedes. 

The novel idea of ZONING was in fact first introduced innocuously by the NPN in 1978/79 when President Shagari, a northerner, became president while Chief Alex Ekwueme, a southerner, was his Vice President.

In 1999, it became officially entrenched by the PDP in their constitution when the power shifted to the South. General Obasanjo became the President while Abubakar Atiku, a northerner, was his Vice President.

The succession plan regionally continued when the power shifted peacefully from Obasanjo to Yar Adua, a northerner and his Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner. 

In both eras, it was the Northern military establishment and their Civilian allies who guided and ushered in the Civilian Governments of Shagari and Obasanjo.

The regional succession plan of POWER SHIFT/ZONING/ROTATION as handed over to us by these Northern founding fathers of the eras of 1979/1999 worked seamlessly well. It enthroned Justice, Equity and fairness which manifested in the peace, unity and a sense of belonging many Nigerians have become accustomed to.

On the basis of this development, it is clear that the PDP and their Northern Governors’ game plan to subvert this arrangement, is not in the national interest. Nation-building has never been in their minds.

What was in their minds, particularly the Governors from the South and the North, from 1966 to date, has always been the denial of the desired dividends of democracy due us in the CREEKS and the DESERTS.

This is evident in the lives of the ALMAJARIS in the North which has now spread to the South. The danger is all apparent at KOKA and MACDONS/JAMB junctions, Asaba, Delta, where they converged every morning struggling for survival.

The ever-rising unemployed youths, and the associated poverty in the South, is very familiar sight to behold.   One day, something will give.

Their argument that zoning is undemocratic and unconstitutional is mercantile, criminal and an afterthought. The unparalleled success of zoning enjoyed from 1978 to 2019, about 41 years now, exposes their selfish/mercantile tendencies against the general good of the people.

What demarcates these leaders, who converged in 2021 in Kaduna, Asaba, Lagos and Enugu, and who did the same in Enugu in 2005, from their counterparts in the advanced democracies of Europe, America and Asia, is the total lack of the value of Public duty and Accountability to the people they represent. 

The leaders of these advanced democracies modified the classical Greek democracy where every member of the polity participated in governance to suit their current realities, hence, the advent of the modern democratic variants of Majority Rule, Plurality Rule, Proportional Representation, Coalition Government and in Britain that is governed by emerging rules, customs, traditions not found in any one document called a Written Constitution.

In Nigeria, the reverse is the case, as our Governors and leaders, modify the democratic concept of Power Shift/Zoning/Rotation to suit their vaulting selfish ambition not minding its cost to national unity and human capital development of its impoverished and oppressed citizenry. 

Our founding fathers introduced Power Shift in 1978/79 to help the disadvantaged minorities have access and occupy higher political offices at Federal, State and Local levels. The Northern Statesmen then, having been in power for 38 years, for the sake of the stability and the unity of the nation, exhibited Statesmanship and Magnanimity and allowed the South produced the President in 1999. Hitherto 1999, dating back to 1960, the South had power at the centre for just 3 years.

Today, the emerging generation of Northern leadership of Governors and Emirs, placed a premium on holding the presidency in perpetuity over issues of Justice, Equity and Fairness and careless its costs on the survival and unity of the nation. 

Therefore, the bolt-face of our Northern Governors, their Emirs and the Southern Governors who are members of PDP Zoning Committee, and who have in 3 separate meetings demanded that the presidency be zoned to the South, is nauseating and goes to show the decay in morals and character of those we call our leaders. Going by their habitual attitudes, and the insistence of their collaborators in North to retain power, the masses of the Southern Region must take the challenge and take their destiny into their own hands as dependence on these leaders will spell doom for our vision of one Nigeria where all are treated as equal and with brotherly love of giving and take. 

While the leaders of Europe, America and Asia, as we are all witnesses, made the corrupted concept of Classical Greek democracy elegant, and elevate it, the nation’s Governors, particularly those in the North, subdued it with their selfish and unskillful handling of Power Shift debate. These Governors and leaders are illusionists and prevaricators. They will not get nobler until we the blind followers compelled them to. Are we ready to stand up and be counted? Are we, if I may ask, not driven by the same value as these leaders? Are we not more interested in ourselves than in the truth, and maybe, that is why good representation and governance have eluded us. 

It is axiomatic that people who elected corrupt, selfish politicians, Traitors etc, elected their kinds and are, therefore, not victims but accomplices. The paradigm shift passed on to us by our patriotic and statesmen of the decades of 1970s, ’1990s and 2020s must be sustained. We appeal to the conscience of the Northern Governors and their Emirs to replicate the legacies of their heroes past and support the following:

concede the office of the Presidency to the Southern Region as was introduced by our heroes past and have endured from 1999 to 2015 when our son, Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, peacefully handed over power to your son, President Muhammadu Buhari

We appeal to Nigerians across the political divide that Justice, Fairness and Equity demand that the Southern Region be given the opportunity to produce the president come 2023 to atone for the short-lived tenure of Ex-President GoodLuck Jonathan.

the truth be told, ZONING exists, by 2023 the North would have completed its 8-year tenure, the South West not only have served its tenure of 8 years when the Power shifted to the South, currently, Prof. Osinbajo, from the South West region, will be completing another 8 years in office as the Vice President come 2023, 16 years at the helm of the leadership of this country by the South West Region. Rotational Justice, Equity and Fairness demands that the South-South or South-East Region be given the opportunity come 2023 to produce the president, South-South in the order of priority as South East, for the time being, appears not to be ready as their leader who heads the PDP Zoning Committee, seem to be indirectly advocating.

Given the above, and the need to arrest the rapidly deteriorating and dire Security and Socio-Economic conditions in the country, the arguments on the Constitutionality of ZONING are nothing but toilsome vanity.

Even then, from the Greek’s Classical democracy to the modern European/American/Asian democracy, it is evident that democracy evolves and along with it are its contradictions and challenges to its underlying principles. These principles are goals more than a depiction of reality.

The British, the Americans and the Asians have over time reconciled and still reconciled their values and practices with democratic norms.

In so doing, as we join in, we may have perfected a system of government that addresses the fears and concerns of the South-South, South East, North Central, North East, North West, South West regions of Nigeria. 

Above all, our leaders whose selfish and vaulting personal ambitions would, for once, be put in check. When we arrest their mercantile dispositions to always trade-off our future, survival and unity for selfish gains, their disregard for the interest and immediate concerns of the ordinary, impoverished, oppressed Nigerians, who in the first place bore the brunt of their misgovernance, we would have succeeded in grooming a new generation of leadership for a New Nigeria.

Any attempt by our leaders to collaborate with hegemonic tendencies to dominate us and deny us the presidency will meet with unqualified failure, one that will unite the ethnic nationalities in the Southern Region toward the march to self-determination and may result in the emergence of Independent and autonomous republics.

You cannot build a nation at the back of a people and yet refuse to give them a place in it. The above were my positions during my sojourn in the United States of America when Abacha seized power.

I got the United States Congress and its President to place sanctions and ban officials of the junta. 10 years ago, I held the same position when I supported the debate for ZONING/POWER SHIFT/ROTATION and will remain so in the unforeseeable future.

•Imegwu, a former Delta House of Assembly Speaker, lives in Aboh, Delta State