By Halimah Yahaya
Political parties should give priority to the South-East geopolitical zone in their zoning arrangements in the emerging political dispensation in 2023 to ensure equity, fairness and justice, the Director of the Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, Sam Amadi, has said.
Amadi, who is also a former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said the notion of zoning the presidency to the South is illogical and unacceptable.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja on Thursday, Amadi said political parties should think of zoning of political offices and positions for the fun of it, except to respond to the challenges of exclusion crisis in the country’s polity.
Just as there was a consensus among political elites on the issue of zoning the presidency to South-West in 1999 as a response to the post-1993 crisis, Amadi said a similar consensus should be developed to micro-zone the Presidency in 2023 to the South East if they believe the a crisis in the region should be addressed.
He said if the political elites do not feel there was any crisis to address in the South-East, the 2023 presidential election should be thrown open for all qualified Nigerians to contest, as the decision to zone power to the region was not necessary.
“In our conversations, we have been reviewing how the process of zoning is playing out, and we have a few concerns. Number one is that we just realised that this politics of zoning has taken a dangerous turn as a result of response to the last 6 or 7 years of this administration which has left many groups feeling marginalised.
“Secondly, zoning should be properly understood. Ideally, elections should be an open competition for all. The notion of zoning grew as a response largely to the agitation for compensation for the annulled June 12 election, and the political elites, as a matter of consensus, agreed there was the need to deal with the crisis of confidence in the South-West.
“Our view in Abuja School is that you don’t need to zone anything if you don’t think there is a clear and present danger. Zoning is affirmative action. If you see a crisis that you need to respond to, then everybody can decide to agree on zoning.
He described zoning as “an abstraction from normal politics”, adding that the Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts believed that if zoning must be undertaken, then it should go to the South East straight, not South-South.
In rejecting the notion of zoning to the Southern part of the country, Amadi said this was for the clear reason that the region has suffered no peculiar and aggravated damage in the Nigerian politics in terms of representation as the North.
“There is no basis to zone the presidency to the South geopolitical zone. Since 1999, the South has suffered no peculiar damage, in terms of political representation for us to trigger zoning to the South.
“The only place where a national consensus for zoning is agreed is the South East geopolitical zone. It is a place that has never held presidential power.
“Our view is that if the Nigerian elites think there is a crisis that needs affirmative action, it is the South East geopolitical zone, not South. If they don’t think there is a crisis, then it should be open competition to give all Nigerians the right to participate.
“Since 1999, If President Buhari finishes his tenure in 2023, that will be 10 years of Northern Presidency, two years under PDP, and eight years under APC. Obasanjo did Eight years, plus Jonathan’s six years. That means the North has ten years, while the South has 14 years. There is no equity or justice zoning the presidency to the South.
“We reject a zoning campaign for the South, because there is no justice for it. We are saying that what Nigeria needs now is power-sharing, an arrangement in which, just like Abacha Constitution that was cancelled, proposed, where the major offices in the Federal executive are shared among all the various ethnic and socio-groups, so that there will be a balance,” he added.