As the race to the 2023 elections draw near, the quest for who would produce the next President and the region best deserving is already dominating the political discourse.
While some have argued with vehemence that it is the turn of the South to produce the next President, the North having had it since 2015,others have argued that Zoning not being a subject recognised in the APC constitution and it not being contained in the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, the central criterion in choosing the next President should be competence and suitability. This group of people further argued that even the opposition Peoples Democratic Party that has provision for Zoning in its Constitution, has not been forthcoming on the subject, choosing rather to focus on how to produce a winning candidate in the 2023 Presidential election.
While the argument for Zoning, as against merit may look altruistic, as proponents have often mouthed the need for equity and fairness, a cursory look at most of the proponents of Zoning are mostly driven by their personal ambition.
For instance, none of the very few Governors in the North advocating for Zoning, is looking in the direction of the North Central that has never produced a President in a civilian dispensation, despite being a very strong hold of the ruling APC. Even the so called South they are advocating, they are either looking at South West that has already produced a civilian President and Vice President or the South South that has also produced a Civilian President and Vice President. To worsen their advocacy and expose their hypocrisy, none of these few Northern Governors have practised Zoning in their respective States .A case of being clever by half. And you ask, where is the equity in all of these self serving agitations ? .
Conversely, those who are agitating in the South for power to rotate to their region are looking at their own part of the South, without looking at the other Zone of the same South that has not had the Presidency. They are also not looking at the critical issue of the relative strength of the parties in the Zones. For instance, while the supporters of the PDP can make a strong case for their Presidential ticket to be Zoned to the South East, being the Zone in which the PDP is strong and which has not produced the President, that argument cannot be made in the APC, as the APC is not strong in the South East.
Whereas the only strong base of APC that has neither produced the President nor Vice President since 1999 is the North Central, the North West have had it in Late President Musa Yar’adua, Vice President Namadi Sambo and President Muhammadu Buhari.The North East have had Vice President Atiku Abubakar for 8 years and the South West have had President Olusegun Obasanjo for 8 years and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for 8 years by 2023.
There is also a deliberate attempt by proponents of Zoning to confuse it with Federal Character Principle.They are not the same.Whereas the Federal Character Principle is situated in the Constitution of Nigeria with a Commission established pursuant to Section 153 (1) (c) to ensure that Federal appointments are equitably distributed among the Six geopolitical Zones of the Country, there is no such provision in the Constitution that recognises Zoning. And if the proponents of Zoning are genuinely advocating that every part of the Country should feel a sense of belonging as far as the Presidency is concerned, they should have been open and honest about it,by singling out the two zones of the Country that have not had a taste of the Presidency since 1999, the North Central and the South East.
So if the proponents of Zoning are genuinely driven by the need for equity, fairness and sense of belonging, they should be straight forward, honest and sincere in their agitation by advocating thus :
That the PDP Zone its 2023 Presidential ticket to the South East and such a South Easterner candidate would in turn pick its running mate from the North Central.
That the APC Zone its 2023 Presidential ticket to the North Central and such a North Central candidate would in turn pick its running mate from the South East.
The above combination is what would represent equity, justice and fairness not only for the respective parties but also for their teeming supporters and the Nigerian voting population. Anything outside of these, would be self serving and should be discountenanced by Nigerians, as no serious party would be foolhardy as to leave out its area of voting strength and Zone itself into defeat.
We should also not lose sight of a very strong and by far the largest voting block in Nigeria today : the youths , women and persons living with disability. These voting block are not restricted or constrained to any Zone. They represent a dream, a movement and aspiration for a new Nigeria that works for all. These group are looking more at the candidate the parties present and which among them best represent their dreams ,hope and aspiration; irrespective of the Zone such candidate emerges from. No serious political party would want to lose out on these group, in choosing its Presidential candidate in 2023. No serious political party would place Zoning ahead of the youths, women and persons living with disability. In fact these group of people already have a preferred Presidential candidate for whom they have been carrying out advocacy round the Country to persuade him to run for Presidency in 2023 . A political party that wants to win the election in 2023 cannot ignore their quest.It would be fatal to do otherwise .