Yesterday, Wednesday 14/04/21, the social media was awash with breaking news about a new zoning arrangement for the ruling APC, come 2023. But no sooner than the social media release, the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party, came out with a counter statement, distancing itself from the zoning arrangement list in circulation.
According to the disowned list, the presidential ticket is zoned to the South, Vice President – North, Senate President – South, Deputy Senate President – North, while the Speaker – North and Deputy Speaker – South.
For the National Working Committee zoning, the list showed that the north will produce the National Chairman, National Secretary – South, National Treasurer – South, Financial Secretary – North, Legal Officer – North and Welfare Officer – South.
Whether true or false, the disowned arrangement is a reflection of the political pulse of the country, and the APC would find it as a knot too tough to untie.
Since the annulment of the June 12 election of 1993, the election that was adjudged to be Nigeria’s freest and fairest, and one that was cancelled by the then President of the day, Gen.Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Nigeria has been struggling with stress, in search of solution out of the precarious and politically entrapped position it found itself.
The predicament had resulted in many political experiments, with the then acceptable, even though not the best, being the idea of power rotation, between the geographical north and the geographical south.
Following the death of General Sani Abacha in 1998, his successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, began the transition process, which led to Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. The ban on political activities was lifted, and political parties were formed in accordance with the constitution, which was styled after the pattern of the second republic of 1979.
Cashing in on the sentiments that followed the June 12 annulment, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, founded in 1998, by members of numerous groups and organizations, including the G-18 and G-34, moved to the north, and in it’s first presidential primary election held in Jos, nominated former military leader Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who had just been released from prison, and who happens to be from the same state with late MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12 election, as the presidential candidate in the elections of February 1999.
Obasanjo, in consultation with the party’s strategists, quickly picked Atiku Abubakar (then Governor-elect of Adamawa State) and a former leading member of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, as his running mate. They won the presidential election easily and were inaugurated on the 29th of May 1999.
Using the same sentiment of power shift, the PDP held sway for 16 years, until the 28th of March 2015, when the party was defeated by the opposition APC, and Muhammadu Buhari became the President.
But still, the political problems continued, mostly rotating around the same pendulum of power shift, with restructuring as a recurring weapon of threat.
The argument of the advocates for the power shift and the clamourers for political zoning is that, for the practice of liberal democracy to be peaceful and successful, the mechanism for power-sharing must not only oscillate between north and south but be seen to be ethno-regionally balanced.
Short of calling for the introduction of the policy of one country two systems, many political pundits believe the power shift arrangement, which, although seen as an elites’ strategy to negotiate continued participation in the political process and access to the national wealth, is the only panacea for maintaining peaceful political order in Nigeria today.
So for the ruling APC, it is a knot too tough to untie now.
Some adventurists are of the believe that, by virtue of its numerical strength, the north can retain power, through a negotiated alliance, but methinks that too is too tough to try.
Many APC stakeholders, including Governors like Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state, Aminu Masari of Katsina state and Professor Babagana Zulum of Borno state, are openly in support of power shift to the south.
According to Governor Aminu Masari, the Southern region of the country should produce the next President, arguing that a non-northerner should succeed President Buhari in 2023, in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.
Masari’s position trailed the views of other APC chieftains, who have maintained that there is an agreement on zoning, amongst whom is the former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume. Senator Ndume said the retention of the presidency in the North in 2023 would amount to a third term.
As for the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, it would be ungentlemanly for power to remain in the north, so the APC must heed the advice and keep to previous agreements made to shift power to the southern part of the country in the next administration.
Even non-politicians, like the respectable former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, have joined the clamour for such a power shift. Gen. Gowon is calling for both zoning and rotational presidency among the six geo-political zones.
He said, rotating the office is key to peace, tranquillity and development, suggesting that Nigeria should henceforth, have two vice presidents, saying that one of them should come from the zone producing the President and the other elected into power during the presidential election.
Yes, the APC can disown the statement on paper, but in the real sense of things, it is a reflection of the political pulse of the country, and a knot too tough to untie, I think.