Zone 2023 Presidency election to the South-East.


Boniface Chizea

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It is time for Nigerians of good conscience to speak out regarding the goings on in the polity today. Witness the number of contestants wanting to be President of Nigeria! It is nothing short of a charade! Even those who have been privileged to be Governors of states and have not been able to pay salaries and pensions are all in the race. May be there is much more to this posturing than most of us know.

 There is hardly any other business going on than the achievements of political ambitions in an economy that is bleeding dangerously. And most of the time State resources are being deployed and frittered away with impunity with no one bothering about accountability. I would be very surprised if there are many of us enamoured with what is currently happening.

What is happening now is not good for us or for future generations of Nigeria to say the obvious. The country is in turmoil with its future very doubtful and it appears that all that is of major concern to those in leadership; particularly the political elites is the appropriation of power. Does nobody ever stop to ask themselves power to do what? How many of the contestants have a vision of a better Nigeria as part of their mission?

Some have argued that it is futile for anyone to expect to be able to manage Nigeria without restructuring. Restructuring is fundamental to the extent that there is an urgent need to refocus attention to production and end the current unhealthy contestations for a larger share of a rapidly shrinking pie. But I believe that if we get elections 2023 correctly we shall be on the right course to redeeming Nigeria from its many problems.

And therefore there is no better time to galvanize elite consensus than now. There is the urgent need to mobilise a critical voice of stakeholders. There is no better time for statesmen to make their voices heard than now. I listened to Elder Ayo Adebajo, the Afenifere Chieftain as he spoke recently at a forum to galvanize a momentum for the zoning of the Presidency to the South East and was very impressed. As he himself observed, if he cannot speak the truth at age 94 years he is damned.

 Yesterday I posted a write up which resulted from the visit of the Episcopal Vicar of the Lekki region, Very Rev. (Prof) Francis Ogunmodede to The Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Lekki where he spoke vehemently and with conviction that it is time to correct a historic injustice by zoning the Presidency to the South East and pointedly identified Peter Obi as a good candidate. This is the time for many other Nigerians of good conscience who mean well for Nigeria to make their voices heard.

Yes zoning might not be progressive. But we have Federal Character enshrined in our Constitution which for shouting out loud is another variant of zoning which similarly aims at facilitating inclusiveness. And no doubt the time will come when such ideas must have had their days in Nigeria. But we shall reap the whirlwind if any attempt is made to truncate it now. And I suppose that there are many of us who think beyond how all this is going to personally affect them who share this view.

 From my readings of the body language of President Buhari, he is most certainly sold on the zoning idea and that he fully appreciates that it is one silver bullet we need now to douse tension in the land. Recall the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El’ Rufia had told us on national television that APC has zoned the selection of its Presidential candidate to the South in keeping with what has become a tradition of the party. But the major opposition party because of the interest of powerful members instead of following suit and reducing the tension in the polity has resorted to an attempt to hoodwink everyone with all manner of arguments targeted at assuaging the interests of powerful members. What obviously is now being sold is that PDP with a northern candidate against APC southern candidate stands a better chance of winning the elections.

Therefore the apparent reversal which was witnessed recently from the APC is because it felt it has sent a wrong signal to the opposition. But we must all wake up to smell the coffee. The feeling that the Presidency should go to the south this time has gained traction that any party that wants to bulk this trend might eventually have itself to blame. It is also on record that Presidential candidates from the south have won free and fair elections in this country before. An example that readily comes to mind is Kasimawo Abiola. It is on record that he defeated his opponent Ibrahim Tofa of blessed memory in his home state; Kano.

Let’s consider what would happen if a decision is taken today to zone the Presidency to the South East by the major political parties and this might not be as difficult as it looks if we can mobilise a consensus around this idea. It will automatically lower the tension in the polity. It will also conserve badly needed resources for more beneficial and productive use. It would make the job of INEC easier and allow the organisation to conserve and better manage resources at its disposal. And such a move will definitely take the wind off the sail of criminal elements masquerading as separatist agitators. It will improve the environment in more ways than one

As a nation in the past we rose to the occasion during the 1999 elections when we faced similar challenge to correct an apparent injustice done to the west because of the annulment of 1998 elections. A collective decision was reached to zone the Presidency to the south west which facilitated President Obasanjo coming to power. This is exactly what we should do now in the overall interest of all Nigerians and for the secured future of Nigeria. Please let’s have conversations around this idea as a means of building an urgent consensus before the commencement of party primaries. Shalom

Dr. Boniface Chizea is an economist and consultant