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TOWARDS 2015: ZONING IS DEAD AND BURIED By Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe

Let all good Nigerians, especially those of us who come from the Igbo nation, begin to advert our minds to the realities of the politics of our dear nation, and stop deceiving ourselves over issues that, at the end, amount to sheer day dreaming.

One of such issues zoning is of the major political offices, like those of the President and the State Governors.

When one hears our people, particularly the more educated and enlightened ones, talk of a particular high political office belonging to a specific zone or ethnic nationality, in 2015, one wonders about the seriousness of such advocates.

It is very worrisome to hear our elites talk glibly about issues that call for a deep intellectual engagement.

Let’s go to specifics. First, the Presidency. Many politicians, academics, business tycoons, youths and even religious and traditional rulers from the all-Igbo South East geo-political zone of Nigeria, have openly declared that 2015 is the turn for Nd’Igbo to produce the next President of Nigeria.

In their thinking, the zone has not tasted the office in Aso Village since the world began.

Now, the question is: why hasn’t an Igbo person held the office?

The answers one gets are as varied as those proferring them.

Some say that the President’s office is rotated among the six geo-political zones and that since nearly every other zone has had its turn, except the South East, it is only just and fair to let the zone take the next turn.

Let’s not worry about the incorrectness of the above-stated assertion and pose a few other questions: Who determined the sequence of taking turns?

When was it determined?

To quite a few of our country men and women who have had anything to contribute in the debate,  of the Presidency is based on the North-South divide.

Thus, a Southerner, former Army General Olusegun Obasanjo, took the first shot on our return to democracy in 1999.

After completing a four-year tenure, he opted to run for a second term, which he was constitutionally entitled to. He won and had to quit thereafter.

He was replaced by Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua, from the North, who died in office even before completing his first four-year tenure.

This was thus completed, as the constitution prescribes, by his deputy, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, from the South.

During the 2011 polls, advocates of zoning demanded that the North be allowed to do another four-year term since their representative in 2007 was stopped by death from even completing a first tenure.

Even though it was purely an internal party matter to decide which global zone would run in 2011, the whole country was abuzz with frenzy. People from Jonathan’s South-South geo-political zone insisted that he should go ahead and run for a second term. The South East zone joined the fray and ended up giving Jonathan the largest electoral votes after his homebase South-South.

That day marked the death of Zoning, if you ask me.

Ditto with the   States, particularly Imo State.

Disciples of Zonism claim that the three Senatorial Districts are zonal units for rotation of Governors. With  the return to democracy in 1999, an “Orlu Zone” PDP candidate, Achike Udenwa, emerged winner even though candidates from other zones contested.

Four years later, Udenwa got re-elected and had a total eight years tenure.

A schism erupted in PDP Imo State in 2011, as it shot itself in the foot by refusing to field the person that won its primary election.

A peripheral party, PPA, eventually produced winner  of the gubernatorial election in the person of Ikedi Ohakim from the same Okigwe zone as PDP’s rejected front runner, Ifeanyi Ararume, who subsequently ran on the platform of ACN.

When Ohakim attempted to vie for a second term, he was roundly trounced by a candidate from Orlu Senatorial district, Owelle Rochas Okorocha of APGA.

Though other candidates from Okigwe zone sought Imo people’s mandate, they were largely ignored as Rochas broke the jinx of Zonism.

Owerri zone supported Rochas to the hilt, thus killing the idea of rotation in zones.

Another election is due in 2015 and already some people are back preaching the gospel of zonism.

All those who gave their support to Jonathan to thwart the chances of the North to do a second term at the Presidency in 2011 have no moral right to advocate for a President in 2015 to be chosen from their own zone.

Same applies to Imo voters who threw away zonism as they dumped Okigwe zone candidates in preference to Orlu zone Rochas in 2011.

Last line. Election 2015 is very much open for every eligible Nigerian to contest any office.

Nobody should seek to blackmail or discourage any other citizen with an ambition to run for any position, by invoking the incubus of zoning.

What should concern us is what an aspirant intends to do with the office he is vying for.

Nigeria’s known enemies, poverty, corruption and insecurity, are non-partisan, non-religious and non-zonal. Political office seekers will have to tell us what they have in mind to fight these scourges.

Any politician who begins by flying the flag of ethnicism or Zonism is an empty charlatan and ought to be ignored and scorned.

We are in the 12th year into the 21st century.

Enough of banal, pedestrian and ethno-religious politicking of yesteryears!

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