For selfish and egocentric reasons, I have read some aspirants talking about the absence of zoning in the Nigeria Constitution. In order to serve their selfish end and contest the 2023 presidential election against the run of play, they have resorted to making references to the 1999 constitution to support their weak argument against zoning of political offices.
It must be stated unequivocally that zoning means the same thing as Federal Character, which is expressly captured in the 1999 constitution. The federal character talks about political balancing of positions and appointments, which is the same thing as zoning. Zoning means “divide into or assign to zones”, positions and appointments whether by way of election or appointment.
For those who are declaring that there is no zoning in the constitution, why has it been the practice that each time a candidate emerges from the North, his Vice Presidential candidate comes from the South, and vice-versa. The Senate President is also zoned to another geopolitical zone, ditto for the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, and even the Secretary of Government of the Federation.
If there is no zone, these positions could have been concentrated in one geopolitical zone, but for that Federal Character provision in the constitution, which is similar to zoning, we have made it a point of duty to observe zoning. In a plural society like Nigeria, given our diversities, one cannot do without zoning and power sharing. No matter how nepotistic the Buhari presidency is, it has observed the principle of zoning positions to create some level of balance. I am aware that President Buhari’s style has been skewed in favour of his Northern zone.
The media owes it a duty to educate Nigerians on the therapeutic effect of zoning and applying the doctrine of Federal character which has been in place since the independence of Nigeria. It is an attraction we cannot run away from given our peculiarities, sensibilities and equivocation. As a party, if you choose not to zone by way of balancing the algorithms, take all your candidates from a section of the country and let us watch how your political fortunes pan out.
Those who are reading the constitution upside down or trying as it were, to twist the logic of zoning to suit their bulbous ego, are only trying to be clever by half. The facts of the matter do not support their illogic. For our diversities and heterogenous configurations, with several nation-states within the nation, the zoning principle has to be deliberately applied to create the required political stability. Anything short of the application of this doctrine will be unconstitutional, and a clear abuse of the principle of Federal Character, which is enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
The principle of Amalgamation which was consummated in 1914 is very clear and unambiguous in rotating the leadership of the country between the North and South. Rather than continue to dwell on the impropriety of turning logic on its head by the political ambition of our brothers from the North, it will make for good judgment for them to bury their ambition and support the Southern zone to produce credible candidates for the 2023 General election.
Trying to ignore this inalienable right of the South to produce the next president of Nigeria will spell political doom for the country. It is only a greedy, selfish, egocentric, and desperate politician from the North that would still insist on going ahead to contest despite the obvious imbalance. The Governors of the Southern zones must speak with one voice in ensuring that the South gets what truly belongs to them.
PRINCE KASSIM AFEGBUA.
WARD 5, OKPELLA. AND
FORMER COMMISSIONER FOR INFORMATION,