Five months to general elections proposed for January, the most important item on the agenda of politicians is zoning, a political arrangement of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that would reserve the plum job, the Presidency, for a part of the country, to the exclusion of others. Though the practice may be a creation of the PDP for its convenience, and allocating the presidential ticket to reflect political exegeses, it has implications that permeate other positions and other political parties are latching on to it.
Obviously, the next elections are about who become the next set of the privileged lot to take over the resources of Nigeria. Access to national assets comes with minimal concerns about the interests of other Nigerians. The few who are in positions to control these resources are almost free to do as they please with them. They do not expect any questions from any quarters, after all it is their turn to chop, and their parties are making the matter official. Today it is zoning, at other times it was federal character, balancing, geo-political interests, but all these are self-serving policies politicians invent at certain junctures to sustain their greed.
What would zoning guarantee? At best it would create advantages for some politicians. In worse circumstances, it would further polarise the country, which is the effect at the moment. Zoning abhors merit and competence, it kills competitiveness and reminds us about how we have in building a country. Scores of Nigerians are digging deeper into their ethnic roots to justify their candidacy in the elections. The biggest reason for most candidates being in the race to run Nigeria is that it is the turn of their area (themselves) to produce the next President. Is that enough?
When would the candidates start talking about their programmes for the sustenance of the country? Do the candidates consider the interest of the ordinary Nigerian? How would zoning improve the lot of Nigerians? PDP, as the dominant party in Nigeria, is setting the pace in this distraction. We expect PDP to ask candidates to align their manifestoes with the party's in the search to improve the conditions of Nigeria. Nigerians should not be deceived. The sentiments around zoning minimise meaningful discussions on the future of the country. We are stymied in the present which is only about benefits for a few. We would make little progress with that type of attitude.
Zoning and the emphases on it are dangerous. They are the latest ploy to exclude qualified candidates from the elections. Zoning, as it is being preached is parochial and limits the inclusion of more competent candidates in the race for the most powerful office in the land. Nigeria is in dire need of pulling itself out of short-sightedness in planning and execution of policies. Million of Nigerians have lost faith in a country that is living on potentials. The only thing zoning offers is a confirmation of the decision some politicians have made that the country is bound to under-development. With offices zoned to them, they have no reason to operate in the competitive manner they would have, if they knew that their performance would be benchmarked for competence. Little time is left to the elections. Politicians must use it to think of programmes that would lead to a better country. We already have too many issues battling for our attention. Zoning is an unnecessary addition.
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