Right from the time of independent from Britain, the issue of power sharing between the constituent political blocs that make up Nigeria has always posed a serious challenge, leading to distrust, bitterness and acrimony. At every point in our political history power sharing has always been debated and people have always advocated power rotation between the North and the South but unfortunately much as this has been hotly debated and advocated, it is not expressly enshrined in the nation’s constitution making its implementation somehow cumbersome. And thus, people especially politicians speak of power rotation or zoning when it suits their interest and speak against it when it does not serve their purpose.
Nigeria is a multicultural polity that has not properly internalized the benefits of its sheer size and diversity. The result has always been mutual suspicions, racial prejudice and primordial sentiments at the expense of patriotism and national cohesion. And so, proper definition of the issue of power devolution will be a desirable thing to do to avoid these recurring and needless debates about zoning as we witness whenever a general election is around the corner. The debate about zoning has always followed inconsistent and often hypocritical strain. Nigerians remember zoning when it favors them. And when it doesn’t it is dismissed as undemocratic and unnecessary. I am not against zoning but I believe in specifying and following the rules of engagement ab initio. It is not a good practice to change the rule mid way.
In the build up to 2011 Presidential election, the North had canvassed for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone the Presidency to the North. The argument then was that it is the turn of the North; Obasanjo having taken the slot of the South and Yar’adua having not completed his tenure before his death in 2011. But the Southern opinion leaders had dismissed the argument saying that it is undemocratic and unconstitutional and eventually the contest for the PDP Presidential ticket was thrown open and Goodluck Jonathan emerged as the party’s Presidential candidate. Thus, Jonathan completed Yar’adua’s tenure and served one term of his before he was defeated by the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
Now as the match to 2023 general elections draw close, the debate about zoning is reared up again between the North and the Southern politicians. And the Southern politicians apparently have forgotten their previous stand on zoning when the issue came up in 2011. If PDP is going to be fair about the issue of zoning I think the party should zone it to the North for out of the sixteen years the party was at helm of affairs in the country, the South through Obasanjo and Jonathan had almost fourteen years while the North through Yar’adua had barely two years. So, to be equitable and fair, the presidency should be zoned to the North or thrown open for the right candidate to emerge as was the case in 2011.
But if we most talk about power rotation, we must not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria is not strictly about North and South. At Independent we have three major political zones – East, West and North. And at present, we have six – North-West, North-Central, North-East, South-West, South-South and South-East political blocs. Again, a cursory look at our political history has shown that all but one zone of this six geo-political zones has not produced the president of this country either by election or by the barrel of the gun. And that region is the North-East region. The North-West has produced Tafawa Belewa, Shehu Shagari, Shehu Umar Yar’adua, Murtala Mohammed and Sani Abacha. The North-Central has produced Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, and Abdulsalami Abubakar. The South-West has produced Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan, South-South has Goodluck Jonathan while South-East has Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi. Obviously, it is only the North-East comprising, Adamawa, Bornu, Yobe…that has not produced the president of this country. So, if we must talk about equity and fairness, we must begin with the North-East by zoning the presidency to that region. And if we cannot do that then we must jettison the idea of zoning and throw the contest open and let the most suitable get the ticket.
It is on the strength of the foregoing that I wish to congratulate the Ortom-led zoning committee for the courage to throw open the contest for the party presidential ticket. In doing this, they realized that what is important to the party is winning the 2023 election and rescuing the nation from the brink. And this can only be done if the party fields the right candidate. The main task before PDP leadership should be about winning the 2023 Presidential Election and not zoning which is a clear distraction. Thus, I must commend the zoning committee for their recommendation. The party needs to mend fences and brace up for the task ahead. There is no gainsaying the fact that these internal bickering were instigated from outside the party to make it lose track of the onerous task before it.
Yes, without mincing word, I think the current clamor for zoning within the PDP folks are being sponsored by elements outside the party and the moles and disgruntled elements inside the party who are bent on making PDP present a weak candidate to make APC continue to strangulate the nation with inept leadership. These are reactionary forces apprehensive of the emergence of Atiku who evidently is the only one within the PDP fold that can muzzle his way and wrestle power from APC and rescue the nation from the brinks.
The name Atiku sends jitters down the spine of his opponents. The ruling APC is feisty about Atiku. The gang of generals that have had a strangle hold on the nation is wary of Atiku’s political influence in the polity. Everywhere you turn the name Atiku echoes. It all goes to buttress the fact that Atiku is relevant and the nation needs him at this trying period of our political history. His Excellency Atiku Abubakar (GCON), the Wazirin of Adamawa is qualified in every respect to lead the nation. He is a bridge builder, peoples’ manager and a wealth creator. He has achieved tremendous success in public service, business and politics. In spite of the campaign of calumny targeted at him, the odds favor Atiku to emerge as the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023. His wealth of experience, his uncommon patriotic zeal and his charisma stand him out as the most outstanding candidate among those aspiring to lead the nation.
Haj. Mohammed, an actress, social activist, politician, can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org