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By: Chris Onyishi

 Published August  4th, 2010

I will start by saying that I am neither a protagonist nor a proponent of zoning, in any form, as a means of bringing out the best human being to lead a nation to the Promised Land.  Simply put, I do not believe in zoning as far as it relates to production of occupants of political offices in Nigeria.  If we look up to nations such as United States of American as a role model in democratic governance, it is only necessary and sufficient that we try, as much as possible, to emulate the functions of their democratic institutions.  This emulation, however, should not fail to recognize our peculiar character as a nation; that is talking about tribe, religion, geography, differential in levels of human capital development and culture in general.  And this is where the proponents of zoning may have a point to make.

Having said that, I will quickly add that it is as criminal to impose zoning on Nigerians as it is not to abide by any form of agreement – be it oral or written or gentlemanly - within any party members at any point in time. 

I do not oppose or abhor zoning because I think it is an impediment to discovery of good leaders but because I think it forms a ready tool in the hands of mischievous and lazy individuals who are not qualified to present themselves for elective posts.  Zoning will offer this group of people the opportunity to say that one zone has ruled and as such it is their turn.

So what I am saying here is that whereas it is very easy for some mischievous human beings to quickly wriggle out of the zoning argument - by sending out wrong information about any existing agreement - on that matter - in the past, and using the constitution as a bastion, it heaps - over their shoulders through out their entire life on this earth - a heavy moral burden.   

The same people who lavishly quote the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the only superior document on the determination of qualification for elective post are the very shameless cartel who supervised the affairs of this country for some dark eight years between 1999 and 2007 without recourse to a single clause in the provisions of the constitution during that era.  Part of the evil fall outs of those eight dark years are just beginning to rear its ugly head.  Is it not ridiculous that, within a party, some people are saying there was and others are saying there was not?  Some then ask for written evidence.

When some people argue that zoning is only a PDP affair and as such a distraction, I look at them and shudder.  When others say that constitution of the Federal Republic is superior in all this, I agree but also shudder at the principles of their argument.  When, still, others ask whether that agreement was written down in a paper, I feel so nauseated.

The reason I feel bad at all the arguments against zoning - even though I do not support it - are numerous;

a.  Agreements must not all be written down on the pages of a book.  We all know that Great Britain as it is constituted today operates both written and unwritten constitution.  And if this can be extrapolated, asking whether there was a written version of any agreement is as mischievous as it is immoral.  I think what matters is whether there was any agreement in any form within any party at any point.

b.  We also fail to recognize that, even though PDP is an abstraction of any form of ideology and hugely bereft of any morals or tenets and represents a conglomerate of some immoral, mischievous and lawless individuals, it still remains the biggest party in the black Africa.  And it is still the ruling party in Nigeria. So, if there is a confidence or trust crises within them, it will either reduce Nigeria to rubbles or make her stronger.  So whatever happens within PDP should not be seen as distraction.  Every body should be concerned.

c.  Even if we see the zoning argument as a PDP affair, good political judgment should dictate that intra Party democracy is a very veritable part of outer democracy and a necessary component to a flamboyant democracy.   It is important that a party that will lead Nigeria should be populated by people who respect agreements in any form.

Even though I am not a member of PDP or any of these ad-hoc groupings called political parties, I remember, vividly, that in the build up to the second term of General Olusegun Obasanjo, all the ad-hoc groups - including PDP - used zoning extensively to woo each other.  I am sure if they are sincere to themselves, somebody like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would tell us what, effectively, was used to put down his intention to run against General Olusegun Obanjo in 2003 election.  But depending on his inclination now, he may not even be willing to tell the truth.

Part of what has held Nigerian State down today from being a major player in human development can be attributed to confidence and trust crises.  Going down the memory lane will reveal that Nigerians used to be united during the fight for independence. Trust was the wicked balm that destroyed that unity, immediately after independence, and led to some distasteful events that nearly consumed us in the late sixties.

 Zoning in it self does not constitute any form of impediment, as I said earlier - if judicious implement by honorable men, but zoning would not have been relevant if the political cabal have given themselves enough confidence and trust and if successive rulers have taken time to develop the country evenly.  So, whereas some see this zoning argument as mere political gimmick, I see it as further deterioration in our democratic dispensation if it is not well taken care of.  There is nothing wrong in the kin pins of a political party - PDP - coming together to formulate a newer arrangement by saying that even though there was an agreement in the past, the demise of President Yar ‘Adua has made it imperative to tilt the agreement, a little, just to accommodate the interest of President Goodluck Jornathan.  This would have been more honorable path to follow were we fortunate enough to have inherited honorable political class.

If somebody like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was not manipulated out of PDP, there was no reason the zoning would not have been implemented by PDP.  All these are the machinations of one man; ex President Olusegun Obasanjo.  It was because forces like that of Alhaji Atiku Abubarka and Governor Orji Uzo Kalu would not allow him to perpetuate his unending desire to remain in office that compelled General Obasanjo to force Alhaji Abubarka and Governor Kanu out of PDP.  This was largely possible because there is nothing like internal democracy in most of the ad-hoc grouping. It is usually one man that dictates the way things happen.

Somebody like General Olusegun Obasanjo should not be saying that he has lost memory of any concept like zoning. He should say what happened exactly.  That is how to be a responsible statesman.  It was because the argument of zoning was stretched out that made him start the third term concoction that would have led all of us to an early grave.

Because PDP is made up of high percentage of mischievous people, they have now put the zoning argument in the front burner instead of telling us what they have to offer Nigerians in the form of a plausible manifesto.  When they wriggle through and produce a lame president, we will begin to hear about 20 point agenda that does not make sense.   We are now spending energy to say there was an agreement, there was not and if there was an agreement where is the evidence.  Is this not stupid enough?  If they will not remember what they agreed amongst themselves, can any one of them be trusted with ruling us. And is this not an index as to why they have ruled for over 50 years of our nationhood and there is nothing to show for it, rather, President Jonathan is proposing 10 billion to be squandered in celebration of the life of a stunted 50 year old nation.  I say 50 years because if you look deeply, you will discover that it is still the same people or their children that have planted themselves over Nigeria and have kept destroying Nigerians.

Let me reiterate here that I am not in any way an apologist of the zoning concept as it relates to producing a leader for Nigeria and Nigerians, but little things that count in life may not really be countable.  Trust and confidence between friends count a lot and is more important than anything else in any relationship or coexistence.  Any body, who will not keep agreement - written or oral or gentlemanly - will naturally not even obey the constitution when he becomes a leader or he helps to foist a leader on the people.  PDP should resolve the zoning issue in such a manner that it will rekindle trust and confidence amongst themselves as a means of galvanizing their jamboree so that they will be, at least, united in cannibalizing us.

And since most PDP kin pins are so mentally deranged as to remember what they agreed upon at any point in time, they may very well learn to document whatever is there agreement on any issues, not just zoning, so that in future they will spare us stupid and painstaking arguments.


Chris Onyishi

Lagos Nigeria

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