May 9, 2022

Zoning must stay for national interest

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WE are compelled to revisit the issue of zoning and power rotation, hoping that our political leaders will do the needful before it is too late. It is important to remind all Nigerians that zoning is not a mere flight of fancy to pacify agitators.

It is a nation-building mechanism which any diverse and heavily populated country with intense ethnic sensibilities like Nigeria must adopt to foster stability. 

It is used to give every section a sense of belonging, more so when the feeling of alienation has got to the level of separatist agitations. It is also a means of bringing all hands on deck to chart a progressive path because when people disagree, they can only produce conflicts which is our reality in Nigeria.

Nigeria has gone through national upheavals such as a civil war, bloody military coups and a presidential election annulment which nearly sparked another war. We are currently bedevilled by Boko Haram/ISWAP Islamic insurgency, bandit-terrorism, armed herdsmen terrorism and Biafra/Oduduwa Nation separatist agitations.

Zoning was an idea invented by the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN, to give every section of the country a sense of belonging and prevent another civil war which sectional domination precipitated. Zoning and power rotation were debated at the National Constitutional Conference set up by the General Sani Abacha regime between 1994 and 1996 in Abuja. 

The Provisional Ruling Council, PRC, approved it. When the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, adopted it in 1999 and zoned the presidency to the South West, the All Peoples Party, APP, immediately followed suit and a Northern frontline politician, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, dropped his presidential ambition and became the running mate to Chief Olu Falae, who benefited from the zoning in the APP. 

Since then, the North and South-South have been favoured with this formula.

It is an act of great hypocrisy and political greed for the Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF, and other Northern leaders to oppose zoning to the South because in 2011 and 2015, the North had clamoured for same.

President Buhari has a duty to ensure that the All Progressives Congress, APC, which he leads zones the presidency to the South. 

The opposition PDP must also do the same, ensuring that the South-East is given a chance to produce the next president. It is only after the South- East and North-East have been given their dues that political parties can consider “throwing it open”.

If the North grabs the presidency again after Buhari’s eight years, it will be a slap on the face of the South. The consequences may not augur well for national survival.