Dec. 4, 2013
By Amuda Emmanuel
Zoning or power shifting is the act of shifting or sharing political offices to various geo-political zones or districts in a bid to balance the political equation.
In Nigeria, zoning has become a norm in the politically charged and divisive atmosphere since the inception of the second Republic up to the current democratic dispensation. For instance,in the Second Republic,the National party of Nigeria(NPN) operated the zoning formula as strategy for the re-unification of the country after civil war. The part of the country that lost the war-Old Eastern Nigeria-produced the Vice president, Alex Ekwueme,Senate President, Joseph Wayas and Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Edwin Ume-Ezeoke in a coalition government where positions were satisfactorily shared by the then National Party of Nigeria(NPN) and the Nigerian peoples party(NPP).
This was done to maintain stability in the country. Also, In 1999,former President Olusegun Obasanjo was elected on the basis of zonal pacification. The three topmost political positions of president,vice president and senate president in Nigeria are currently occupied on basis of zoning and even civil society groups like Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU),Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC),Nigeria Bar Association(NBA) and National Association of Nigerian Students(NANS) have operated zoning in their leadership successions they have enjoyed over the years. Educationally, children from Ekiti state, Ondo state, etc., are deprived of their places in Federal Government Colleges because their less qualified counterparts from other states up North have to be included on basis of zoning. Suffice it to say that PDP as it is known today is not the architect of zoning arrangement in Nigeria politics.
The truth is that Nigeria still stands as a nation today due to zoning,explicitly or implicitly. It is even encapsulated in Federal Character provisions and has been strongly advocated for to be strengthened in the constitution. That is how far we have come with the unfortunate principle. Without doubt, zoning has encouraged mediocrity and discrimination. But in practice, zoning seems now the practicable and alternative arrangement to crisis and is now regarded as stabilization factor. Zoning is now justified and increasingly applied across board in different ramifications.
Ekiti should have its good policy of inclusion through zoning. Ekiti South Senatorial Zone should be entitled to present the candidates from all the political parties in the next governorship election. The parties participating in the election should encourage, support and endorse the array of qualified governorship candidates from Ekiti South extraction. It is not necessarily because there are no better candidates elsewhere who might have strongly supported and advocated for the development of the zone but because it has become absolutely necessary to include all sides of our great state in governorship arrangement. Though All Progressive Party( APC) and the Labour Part(LP) had shifted their Governorship race to the Ekiti North and Central Senatorial districts where the zone have produced two governors each.
The APC claims there is no zoning in their party constitutions but the interim executives of the APC were selected by zoning arrangement, even in Cross River state APC insists on zoning arrangement in governorship slot to North senatorial district. Also the governorship aspirant of LP stated that “I practically dragged Governor Kayode Fayemi out of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and took him to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to recommend him because there was a strong geo-political sentiment in Ekiti in 2003 that the next Governor of Ekiti State should come from Ekiti North Senatorial district then” which means that Hon Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele knows that there is zoning in Ekiti.
In fact, the history of human race and the chronological conducts of men and women of power have shown in all epochs that men seek power,money and women more than they seek peace,Justice and equity.
The major lubricant to the wheel and chain of this unquenchable thirst for vain glory and material success is arrogance. This does not allow individuals, while in privileged positions, realize their past and put the future in proper perspective. The lucre of power,Money and women blinds power and authority wielders for seeing the long term implications of their myopic ambitions,desires and immoderate taste. Professor Chinua Achebe state that “Those whose palm kernels have been cracked by the benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble”.
Governor Kayode Fayemi,Hon Micheal Opeyemi,Caleb Olubolade, Ayo Fayose and others from other zones are very worthy Aspirants, Ekiti South axis should get the slot now before it swings back to the other zones that have held governorship position since the creation of the state. To our people and true supporters of the zoning formula, it does not matter the political platform, let the candidate be from Ekiti South.
Opinion varies on the matter, but that of the contestants and their supporters attract most attention. Kayode Fayemi,Navy Caleb Olubolade,Ayo Fayose and their supporters have said that Ekiti South can not be politically marginalized. That amounts to being economical with the truth as they use generalization analogy. I am aware that since the creation of Ekiti State,Ekiti South has produced former Deputy Governors like Surveyor Abiodun Aluko,Chief Adebisi Omoyeni and Hon(Mrs) Abiodun Olujimi,former Minister Dr Tunde Odunsina,Former State Speakers like Rt.Hon Adekola Adefemi,H.E Tope Ademiluyi,Rt.Hon Femi Bamisile,Rt Hon Tunji Odeyemi and the present speaker Dr Adewale Omirin amongst other notable office holders. It is also on record that the highest number of professors in Ekiti are from the same Ekiti South but region has not produced the state governor yet. This is the point.
Ekiti South deserves its own share of the powerful position of governor. How it is applied for the development of Ekiti State should only be analyzed when it has given the shot at it.
Writes from Ikere-Ekiti