Wednesday, September 23, 2020



Yes, it is time to finally bury ‘zoning’

Yes, it is time to finally bury ‘zoning’
August 08
19:01 2020

Recently Mallam Mamman Daura the normally taciturn nephew of President Buhari did something he rarely does; he granted an interview. What is more, in the interview he granted the BBC Hausa service, he weighed in with his opinion on the issue of ‘’zoning’’ or ‘’rotation’’ of the presidential seat among the geo-political zones in the country. He said having tried the idea three times now it was time to jettison it in favour of electing a leader who will merit it by competence and ability to win over Nigerians with his vision and charismatic appeal (sic).


And then they came after him like a ton of bricks. Yes the know-it-all, brigade of self-important but empty barrels that perpetually lurk in the public space spewing forth ill-conceived and ill-digested inanities which they try to ram down our collective throats as political wisdom. In this gallery are sadly nonagenarian geo-ethnic champions like Edwin Clark, Ayo Adebanjo and John Nwodo, Chukwuemeka Ezeife along with the pipsqueak Yinka Odumakin and the grotesque, spastic and comically quixotic Gani Adams, all generously indulged with unmerited attention by an equally ignorant section of the Nigerian media and their denizens of columnists hanging on to the narratives of ancient political feuds for relevance and circulation.

This is not to enter a defence for Mamman Daura. As a journalist and personality of repute he can more than adequately defend himself if he chooses to. Indeed I have issues with his call. Is it a subtle admission from the demure first nephew that his Uncle the president had not been able to live up to the expectation of Nigerians? Was the call then an altruistic one in which he wishes and hopes a leader with more vigour and determination could emerge to pick up the slack and drive Nigeria to where its endowment should take it? Or was he testing the waters for some incipient sleight of hand succession arrangement that will cover up the reported cases of massive infractions that have taken place under this administration?

In the fullness of time perhaps not too long from now, it will all come to light. But for now along with many Nigerians I share Mamman Daura view that it is time we buried the zoning idea from our body politic. It must however be stated that had president Buhari laid down and driven a new political paradigm that de-emphasised some of those negative issues that have defined our politics, Mamman Daura’s call would not have been necessary. We would by now be approaching the next circle of elections in 2023 with the confidence that a new set of leaders groomed under president Buhari would be poised to lead Nigeria into a new dawn. That we are still talking about deploying zoning as a template for producing our next president after Buhari betrays sadly how dysfunctional and underdeveloped we are politically. And this has invariably given room for all kinds of nihilistic characters to opportunistically feast on the existential challenges of our political system with a view not to proffer enduring cutting edge solutions but to exacerbate them.


From the burden that Nigeria carries as the potential leader of the entire black race on earth, the presidency of Nigeria ought to be occupied by a visionary of world historical standing. Under the circumstances that Nigeria finds itself at the moment with all the contradictions of the country hurtling towards a dangerous, potentially self-destructive catastrophic end, the next president or leader must necessarily go through the crucible of Nigeria’s existential realities to merit the position. That person must be the aggregation of all the tendencies of the Nigerian nation as first principle and the embodiment and reflection of the spirit and power of the black man to the world.

If I read him correctly that is what Mamman Daura seems to be alluding to with his call to scrap zoning which many Nigerians fully support. So those calling for the retention of zoning as a template to produce our next president in 2023 are not just anachronistic, but are engaging in a counterproductive enterprise. In adopting the principle of zoning for the presidential seat, the political parties have dysfunctionally elevated their own convenience above the enshrined principles and provisions of the constitution on political participation and choice. Having chosen it to conveniently, if temporarily paper over their cracks in deciding who they will chose for elective positions, they are now surreptitiously and dubiously trying to foist it as a permanent feature of our politics in clear and flagrant disregard for the constitution which does not recognise it.

In any case the parties themselves have serially breached the zoning principle. The last time was when the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) fielded Goodluck Jonathan against their documented agreement. That inflicted a mortal blow on zoning and the Nigerian people finally delivered the coup de grace to it in 2015 with the defeat of Jonathan. Muhammadu Buhari who won the polls did it not by zoning but by dint of his political perseverance.


In 2023 we should deep six zoning finally. We have to raise the bar on people who desire to rule us not by entitlement which zoning entails but by political merit and competence. We should aim to improve upon the lessons of the emergence of Buhari. His emergence was based on his mobilization and acceptance in his northwest zone which gradually spread to the entire northern region. And of course with that political strength, it proved difficult to continue to ignore him politically which culminated in the southwest for politically strategic reasons joining him in 2015.

Our next president in 2023 must be someone who can command willing acceptance and support of a large chunk of Nigerians from at least four geo-political zones on his own merit. Chief MKO Abiola did it in 1993. Ditto Buhari in 2015. In 2023 this is the way to go. Any politician who wants to rule over us in 2023 through zoning should not be countenanced. And if the parties insist on retaining it, the voters who are the real owners of power should reject it as they did in 2015.

The presidency of Nigeria should not be equated to that of a village head. For what it is worth whoever aspires to and eventually gets elected must merit it in the consideration of Nigerian voters not by arrangement of politicians and their parties for their own dubious convenience.



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