Zoning: Why the NorthWest can be counted out
By: Nonso Ozolua
As the 2023 elections approach, the debate has once again shifted to the zoning arrangement, as usual Nigerian political commentators have decided to shelve the real issues of competence, integrity, and several other qualifications for office to discuss the Zone that must produce the next President.
Nigeria is a multi ethnic Nation, and in the spirit of fairness and Justice, the People’s Democratic Party introduced the zoning formula, an agreement to rotate power between the North and the South for all peoples of Nigeria to feel included in democratic Governance, after years of military rule where it felt like certain tribes held the country hostage. It was also done to avoid another brutal civil war.
With the return to civilian rule, the PDP decided to zone its Presidency to the South, this allowed Olusegun Obasanjo and Alex Ekwueme to contest the Primaries, President Olusegun Obasanjo ultimately won, a victory that was seen as penance for the June 12 injustice, he contested against another Yoruba man – Olu Falae. Olu Falaye had to win a second round of primaries against another Southern Candidate Ogbonnaya Onu.
From the recollection of history above, it can be concluded that the Party did not zone the Presidency to any particular geo political zone before the primaries, as Alex Ekwueme was allowed to contest, even Olu Falae that eventually contested on the platform of the AD had to fight off Ogbonnaya Onu. This is contrary to the popular belief that it was handed to the Yoruba nation on a platter.
After President Buhari’s 8 years, the Issue of zoning is back on the front burner, some commentators are rightly saying that it should be zoned to the South, with the South East being the only zone yet to govern the country in the South, others have stated that the PDP must put its best foot forward to regain power first before they can share it amongst the geopolitical zones.
The North Central is another zone that is yet to taste power since the return of Civilian rule, in fact the North Central is yet to provide a Vice President as well. This is another Zone that the PDP must immediately consider in the spirit of justice and equity.
Regardless of zoning, one zone that must definitely be ruled out by both major parties is the North West, as President Buhari is a Muslim from the North West, he has represented this zone for the past 8 years, being the outgoing President, North West candidates must immediately reconsider their entry into the 2023 race.
This must be the wisdom in the thinking of the Northern Elders forum, to disqualify Governor Aminu Tambuwal from the Northern Consensus based on his zone and the fact that even Yar’adua before Jonathan and then Buhari was also from the North West, it will defy natural Justice for the North West to join the fray in 2023. Since we must balance justice with putting the best foot forward.
For 2023, we want to see a young, agile President, one with capability to tackle economic issues, insecurity and unemployment, we want to see this President emerge regardless of geo political zone, but we must also balance our choices with equity and justice amongst the many tribes within Nigeria.