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PATH TO GENUINE ELECTORAL REFORM .

Rahaman Onike
 Published June 1st, 2010

In nowhere is the saying action speaks louder than words more true than in Nigeria, especially among Nigerian politicians. Since the elevation of Yar’Adua to celestial glory, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has spoken to Nigerians more with his body language than any other form of communication.

This resort to body language was first manifested during a CNN interview when Christiane Amanpour pointblanckly asked then Acting President Goodluck if he would contest next year’s presidential election. Goodluck shifted uneasily and went on frolic with words and never answered the question.

Now that Musa Yar’Adua had joined Shehu Yar’Adua, “divinely” leaving the reigns of governance to Goodluck, Goodluck is still yet to answer the nagging question. His body language shows he craves to run. His action by proxy shows he is salivating to run and by proxy, he has started uprooting obstacles on his way.

The first obstacle was the soul of his party PDP. To capture the soul of this monster, the National Chairman had to go for a more Goodluck friendly chairman to emerge. Ogbulafor had in the days of uncertainty over Yar’Adua’s expiring date, voiced that Goodluck will not pick up wherever Yar’Adua would have left. This position by Ogbulafor was predicated on the zoning arrangement by the PDP. The communiqué of the caucus meeting where PDP discussed zoning had been made public and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan then Deputy Governor of Bayelsa was in attendance.

A good number of Nigerians have come heavily against this zoning (mind you at federal level only) chanting that it is not in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I agree with this school of thought but differ greatly that such an internal arrangement of a party to win votes should be a national issue. Unfortunately it is a national issue because the political party in power, has the exclusive control over the machinery of rigging, spanning from the appointment of INEC Chairman to the security agencies and intimidating rival party’s polling agents at the day of election.

Political Party “politricking” have never been worked out based on constitutional provision rather on manifesto of the party. Every political party panels out strategy that will enable it win the required votes to be the major distributor of the coveted means of making its members instant millionaires.

Throughout the history of Nigerian politics, zoning has always factored in. It is either on Christian/Muslim, Hausa/Igbo, Hausa/Yoruba alliance. Even the military incursion into Nigerian politics did not abolish zoning despite the redemptive cum revolutionary ideals of these coup plotters.

Those chanting that Goodluck should run, are being economic with the truth. In as much as I hate zoning-for if I am a PDP member, I am excluded to contest any meaningful post in my state because my Senatorial Zone under the PDP had had its turn of every juicy post –this is not the time for PDP to abolish zoning. The six geo-political zones should have a realistic attempt at eight year tenancy at Aso Rock before we can justifiably say that it is no longer expedient to hold on to the zoning. Until this is done, groups in Nigeria will still be shouting marginalization and uneven playing ground aided by power of incumbency.

This is not the time to copy United States of America, where a family had produced two presidents. In America, there is a robust political culture where to be a President is a dreaded burden. In the United States, people get quality representation from their Reps and Senators that they care only marginally about who becomes the President of United States. In America there is true federalism and sectional development that some citizens never had course to leave their state capitals in search of anything. But in Nigeria, you must be an Abuja politician before any meaningful dividend of democracy can surface in your area.

A careful look at those edging in Goodluck will expose that they are those who had benefitted from the Zoning arrangement of the PDP nay the psych of Nigerians.

In a free and fair election or selection, would the South East by the way they were marketing the Senate President be allowed to constantly reproduced Senate President from 1999-2007? To disagree with me is to impute that there were no other qualified Senators to Chair the Senate but the South East for that 8 years. Same was applicable to the House of Representative where an attempted impeachment of OBJ resulted in leadership casualty but not in removing the Speaker from the North. Even in the current dispensation, the former Speaker’s “itchy fingers” did not take away the Speaker’s seat from the South West despite eminently qualified PDP Honourables from other geo-political zones. It is hypocritical for the so called PDP Reform Forum to be championing the abolition of Zoning. A good number of them, became Governors of their states for two tenures because other Senatorial Zones based on zoning conceded to them despite the below performance of a good number of them. It is most unfair to want the bridge to break because you have crossed it. If Goodluck and PDP are sincere about abolishing Zoning, why is the vacant National Chairman seat of the PDP left for the South-East to fill?

The real selfish reason these politicians are asking for the demise of zoning is because they have had their cake, are in their twilight and if zoning is maintained, most of them will not have the opportunity to contest and mesmerize the poor hungry electorates with their PDP assisted wealth.

If not for the loud body language of Goodluck and the understanding that the incumbent never losses election, the issues that should have defined the 2011 elections would have been on the front burner rather than the issue internal crisis of the PDP.

Goodluck should speak up.

Che Oyinatumba

oyimnatumba92@yahoo.com



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