Nigerians, familiar with the political, social and economic activities in the country, would as well understand that recent happenings in the country, the politicking, especially the judicial angle to it, are indicative of covert political permutations, alignment and realignment of forces all geared towards shaping the direction of 2023, the election year. It is, therefore, no longer a conjectural expression that principal political actors and their surrogates are gathering in their various enclaves, crisscrossing and cross-hatching strategies on how to grab power and apportion same among various components of Nigerian society.
Political parties, civil society organisations, ethno-cultural organisations, faith-based groups among other key actors, are whistling in cacophony, with some chanting songs of wars in symphony, while others have been choreographing the orchestra of marginalisation and sometimes, exerting emotional blackmail in order to be heard, recognised and accepted as the legitimate heir apparent to President Muhammadu Buhari. In doing these, people trade and propagate all manner of archaic and parochial sentiments without recourse to realities.
No doubt, activism, negotiations, and non-violence agitations are like grease, they lubricate democracy and nurture it to full stature. They are, indeed, the very ingredients that have placed democracy far above other systems of government and are parts of the enduring qualities that have distinguished that system of governance from other competing systems. However, agitations must be fashioned, concretized and pursued within the framework of some known and indisputable historical realities.
For instance, the North Central has come all out lobbing the two major political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for their 2023 presidential tickets. They argue that from 1960 to date, except for the period of military intervention, the North-Central has never been given the chance to produce candidate for a presidential election. This antecedent is as a result of the unwritten rule that suggests that a zone that produces a party chairman is automatically excluded from producing the president. The power brokers have always used this subtle strategy to deprive North-Central the chance to occupy the two highest positions of power in the country.
It is also historical fact that North East produced Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first and only prime Minister of Nigeria (1960-1966) and a Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar – 1999-2007, while North West has produced three Presidents – Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari – 1979-1983; Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua – 2007-2010; Muhammadu Buhari – 2015-Date; and a Vice President (Arc Namadi Sambo – 2010-2015. Equally, South West has produced a President, General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) – 1999-2007 and a Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo – 2015-Date, while South East has produced one ceremonial President, Dr Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe,1963-1966 and a Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme – 1979-1983. From the foregoing statistic, it is obvious that the North Central and the South East are the most marginalized zones in the country in terms of an equitable distribution of political offices.
The South-East, in particular, argues, very fervently that it is their turn to produce the President. The people of the region are equally asking that the other five geopolitical zones concede the presidency to it. In the opinion of the people of the zone which is dominated by the Igbo, making this happen will coalesce with the spirit of equity, fairness, justice and good conscience.
Some political analysts have also argued that power going round the zones would give every section a sense of belonging. Some others have also advocated that zoning be given a constitutional provision and not just a party policy.
In the opinion of this newspaper, every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to accept zoning or reject it, but the overwhelming majority of the people are agreed, in principle, that zoning will bring inclusiveness now or in the future. It is also assumed that zoning is the only way to manage the nation’s diversity, ethnic interests and agitations as well as give every section of the country the sense of belonging needed to build one united country.
Presently, the political parties have been able to fashion out a zoning formula for the Presidency on the concept of North and the South. There are three zones in the South and three in the North. So, when one zone in the North has it in one party, another zone from the same or other party ought to be entitled to it based on the gentleman’s agreement.
We, therefore, urge the various regions and sections to, while this is on, engage in aggressive lobbying of political parties, with a view to actualising their dreams. We admonish them to employ all lawful means to achieve this. As we raise this condition that is necessary in the search for a candidate fit and proper and with the right leadership qualities, it is pertinent to emphasise that merit must not be sacrificed on the altar of a blind zoning formular. As it stands today, we make bold to say that no one zone has the monopoly of the most competent and brightest people in Nigeria.