July 13, 2010

Zoning: Some Northern Gentlemen loosing their manners

Resolving the zoning debate just like it was done in 1999 is also a key part of a credible, free and fair 2011 election.
In the politics of Nigeria, population figures are always a strong bargaining point. Everything, including resource control, share of the federal budget and even selection for the National football team has strong ethnic implications. Reasonable representation of all races, though not ordinarily wrong, has been employed with great effect by politicians, civil servants and powerful groups to undue advantages. Until recently the quota system (otherwise known as federal character) has been regarded as an evil of sorts but nonetheless one which was difficult to deal with or to exorcise the Federal Government of. Well that was until events in the recent political history, through the emergence of the PDP evolved the same principle into its zoning principle.
Zoning may be the best thing that happened to Nigeria since June 12. For some reason the Hausa-Fulani group, through it stronghold on the Northern population has maintained an unprecedented hold on power in the country. According the Solomon Lar (the chairman of the PDP) zoning was introduced to appease
the south (particularly the south-west) after MKO Abiola and the annulled June 12 election. There was nothing in the constitution of the country or that of PDP in this regard but yet unlike the quota system this principle was more generally accepted. Zoning was simply a gentleman agreement between the powerful political players at the time. Now it seems some of these gentlemen are loosing their cool. The country is gradually coming under the same grip that have impoverished and plundered the country for the past 50years.
The principles of zoning were never documented according to the first National Chairman of the PDP Solomon Lar. This must have been deliberate. Zoning would be unconstitutional. If written into the constitution of PDP and in that case the 1999 constitution would always take precedence over all laws conflicting with it. Many aspects of the principles are therefore none specific. For example is the zoning a one, two or three term arrangement or not. This is why the present uncertainty arises. President Obasanjo ruled on this principle for two terms and attempted a third term. At that time he was firmly resisted based on the constitutional two terms allowed not and never on the grounds of zoning. President Yar’adua did not finish one term. So whose term is it now? Obviously the north did not have a full eight years. If the zoning reverts to the north then the North would have been in power for 3years (Yar’adua’s term) plus 8 years continuously. If zoning reverts to the south then the south would have been in power for 1year (Yar’adua term now being served by President Jonathan) +8 years. Someone has to give in either case. Mr. Jonathan could be allowed to continue for another four years but he will definitely go for a second term putting him in power for over 8years. Meanwhile the must marginalised major ethnic group in the country, the Igbo would effectively be out of the leadership equation for another sixteen years. And they are not even raising a voice against that. Most of their leaders have chosen to instead adopt Mr Jonathan as their candidate even as he is not 100% Igbo. If the Igbo's can accept this why not the Hausa-Fulani who have been in power for over 40years out of the 50 years of Nigeria’s existence.
The fact is powerful groups in the North do not want to support the zoning arrangement for their own gains. The Quota system and the Federal character principles must be done away with if they want merit to prevail. Quota system and federal character principles have been used to serve Northern interests mainly, the office of the President of the country must serve the interests of the whole country. The office of the President must have as minimum requirement for qualification to contest all the leadership experience, academic qualification (minimum graduate degree) that would guarantee us a good leader. In a free and fair election a Bashir Tofa (politically uneducated, unaccomplished and unpopular) can never win an election. In an uneven society like Nigeria, business accomplishment is deceptive and does not necessarily translate into administrative acumen. Zoning is therefore at the heart of a free and fair election for 2011. If you do not understand this ask late Chief Awolowo what happened in 1979 and 1983 elections. In a modern society leadership is something that is earned not imposed. Arguably the North has been the worst off even after 40years of ruling the country. What makes the North think that a retired general who have been in an out of power and who can be held responsible for the deaths of many of their people and destroying even the authority of their caliphates (including the Sokoto caliphate) is now their saviour?


My opinion is somewhat different from yours yes, The federal character must be abolished, for it has not served any intended purpose or the ordinary Hausa/Fulani person 50 years after is not more enlightened than his counterpart in other parts of the country, and his community has not improved much, or better than the other communities in the south.
That been said, I will not want to cap our presidency to certain category of educated people, that to me will be unconstitutional, what we need is a leader with vision, courage to take the country to another level.
By pegging the presidency to a diploma or whatever level, will amount to robbing some other people chances. The minimum requirement is good as it is, school certificate.
Instead of us talking about the educational criteria of who should be president, we should focus on who has the courage to lead us. Whether a leader is a PHD holder or school cert he will still have advisers and subject matter experts(SME) who will be telling him what to do, and that is how it has been, we should focus our attention on the people our presidency is surrounded with, I believe that is the main problem .

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