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The Science Of Zoning In The Nigeria Polity

The science of Zoning in the Nigeria polity aims at creating a sense of balance,equity and inclusion in a multi-plural and diverse ethnic society like Nigeria.
It is a “turn by turn” kind of arrangements by politicians in Nigeria to have power (especially power the centre] rotate between the Northern and Southern region of the country. This they aim will give a sense of belonging to every region and preserve the fragile unity of the country.

Zoning in the Nigeria polity as an idea can be said to have been birthed from the understanding of the Federal Character Principle introduced in Nigeria from the reports of the 1958 Willinck Commission.
This commission was instituted following disagreement among delegates at the Nigeria Constitutional Conference in London, to eliminate fears of domination by the majority ethnic groups, among minorities.
This commission’s major report was centred on its suggestion of the Federal Character Principle. This principle is a deliberate decision to construct and devise a means of ensuring proper distribution of amenities and government projects in the country as well as an attempt to devise a formula for fair representation.
The Federal Character Principle has been widely practiced in the Federal Civil Service and has largely guided political and administrative appointments in the governance of the country since drafted. It is recognised in the 1999 Nigeria Constitution in Sections 13[3],147[3] and 171[5].
Whether it is being practiced to the letter is discussions for another day. But it can largely be deduced that the logic of zoning in Nigeria stems from contributions of the Federal Character Principle understanding.

Zoning as being loudly spoken of in the Nigeria political arena today, was basically introduced by the People’s Democratic Party[PDP] at the birth of this Fourth[4th] Republic in 1999.
In 1998, when efforts were being made to restore democracy after the demise of Gen. Sani Abacha, who wanted to perpetuate himself in power, there was a gentleman agreement by the G-34[the group who vehemently fought Gen.Abacha’s self transmutation bid to become President while being the Military Head of State] who later jointly founded the PDP, to cede power to the Yoruba’s following the ill-feelings of the annulment of the June 12 Presidential Elections.
That zoning arrangement produced Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the Presidential Flag bearer of the PDP who later became President of the country.
It is worthy to note also that, the opposition party had the same feeling to assuage the Yoruba race, when it jettisoned its own Presidential primary result where Chief Ogbonaya Onu, had emerged as its flag bearer and merged with the Alliance for Democracy[AD] to present Chief Olu Falae as its Presidential Candidate under the All Nigera’s Peoples Party[ANPP].

When the PDP won the elections in 1999,it zoned the various elective positions of power to the different geopolitical zones in Nigeria, to give the outlook of “one Nigeria” and inclusiveness to the various regions.
It was distributed as follows; The South West[President], the North East[Vice President],South East[Senate President],North West[Speaker], Party Chairmanship[North Central], and the Secretary to the Federation went to the South South.
This arrangement was the blueprint that guided PDP’s appointments through out its sixteen[16] years in Power. Every change of personality in Power is replaced with this arrangement as guide.

Amazingly the ruling party-The All Progressive Party[APC] kept faith with the PDP’s Zoning arrangement when it clinched Power in 2015. And as we approach the 2023 elections reports are suggesting that the APC is Zoning its elective offices again. The number of candidates from the southern part of the country picking forms to contest the presidential primaries gives credence to the report suggesting the party bigwigs is tilting towards presenting a southerner as its preferred presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.

The People’s Democratic Party[PDP] on the other hand, had earlier this month jettisoned the zoning principle enshrined in its own constitution which they have practised over the years.
Mr. Debo Ologunaba , the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP said, the party agreed with the recommendation of its National Zoning Committee that the Presidential Primary be left open while the party continue to work towards a consensus candidate.
Some people question if this doesn’t appear to be feeding the ambition of some big wig politicians in their camp?

Since zoning is aimed at projecting fairness and inclusiveness in a multi ethnic and religious entity like ours. It must be wholistic and not appear to be seen as a tool of rotating power among the Yoruba[South-West] and the Fulani[North-West] deliberately excluding the Igbo ethnic group[South-East] and the Minority groups of the North Central from its calculations.

Even-though zoning has rightly charted a cause to forestall anarchy and mayhem by appeasing to the disgruntled sentiments of some regions, it is definitely not building and developing Nigeria’s polity in the long run.
It demerits is exemplified in the mediocrity[as against competence] it promotes and churns out in the governance and leadership of the Nigeria State. No nation can be great and prosperous with mediocre’s steering the ship of the State.

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