The question of zoning has been a top issue in national discourse in the build up to the 2023 general elections.
Many apostles of zoning while rightly asserting the role of the principle in enthroning fairness, justice and equity have twisted the principle to suit their selfish interests. In a desperate and intensively emotional attempt to capture power, they are deviating from the fairness, justice and equity that zoning entails.
The fact is not always on the side of the loudest. Here are the facts. There are six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. If power must be zoned on the consideration that it should be given to a zone that has never produced the President or head of State, let us examine the records. From 1960-1966, the easterners produced one president in the person of Nnamdi Azikwe and one Military head of State in General Aguiyi Ironsi when the Military took over power. Ironsi was replaced by General Gowon from Plateau State ( North Central) who was replaced by General Murtala Mohammed from Kano (North West). Upon the death of Murtala in 1976, a Yoruba man from the south west General Obasanjo took over and then handed over to a democratically elected President from Sokoto (North West) in the person of the late Shehu Shagari. When the military struck again in 1983, power went to General Buhari from Katsina (North West) who was eventually overthrown by General Babangida from North West Niger state. When Babangida left power in 1993, Ernest Shonekan from the South West took over until he was removed by a man from Kano (North west) in the person of General Abacha. Upon Abacha’s death, General Abdulsalam from Niger State ruled until he handed over to a democratically elected Yoruba man from the south west. Obasanjo handed over to Yaradua from Katsina (North West) who was replaced by the man from Otuoke, Bayelsa state in the South South region. Power is currently in the hands of Mohammed Buhari from the North West.
From these factual records, we can see that all zones except the North East, has produced a President or a military head of State. Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, the South South, North West and South West has produced the President. Leaving the North Central, North East and South East. Prior to that, the North Central has produced two military heads of states while the south east has produced a President and a military head of State respectively leaving the North East as the only region in the country that is yet to produce one. If fairness, equity and justice is the rationale behind zoning, the records and facts are on the side of the North East and if we all want to be sincere and fair with ourselves, it is the turn of the North East.
Since the last 10 years, the north east has been ravaged by radical extremists whose activities have completely destroyed the political, social and economic fabrics of that region. It will also amount to an act of solidarity if the nation allows the zone to produce the next president.
In terms of competence and experience, the North East has the most qualified candidate with the capacity to unite the nation and forge the foundation of a better and prosperous Nigeria. Atiku Abubakar has the capacity to win the general elections for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). If zoning and fairness is the standard, he qualifies because the north east going by the records has not produced a president. If competence is the standard, there is no candidate with the experience and capacity and understanding of the issues like Atiku Abubakar. Atiku Abubakar is a job creator, a quality that Nigeria needs at this critical time of national economic distress. Thirdly, if capability of winning elections is the standard, Atiku has proven that he can pull a national structure that can help the PDP reclaim power in 2023. In the end, Choosing Atiku Abubakar is tantamount to using one stone to kill three birds. Firstly, A win for Justice, equity and fairness, A win for competence, experience and capacity to deliver good governance and thirdly, a win for having a candidate that can wrestle power from the APC. Atiku Abubakar as flagbearer of the PDP is three wins in one.
Hon. William “Billy” Nwoye
Former Adviser to 2 Governor’s in California USA, and First elected Nigerian in USA