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Nigeria-2011 Presidential Election:A Referendum on Zoning

According to http://wwwpunchng.com,”INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, declared Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party winner after the results of the nine states whose results were not taken on Sunday at the National Collation Centre in Abuja had been announced. Jega said that apart from having the highest number of votes cast in the election, the President was also able to meet the constitutional requirement on the spread of votes.According to him, Jonathan scored the mandatory 25 per cent of votes cast in 31 states and the Federal Capital Territory to emerge the winner.” Explaining further,the INEC chairman said, “The constitutional requirement is that parties must be able to score at least 25 per cent in two third of the total number of states and the FCT.Based on this, the positions of the parties are as follows: Ribadu of the ACN scored 25 per cent votes in four states; Buhari of the CPC scored 25 per cent of votes in 16 states and Jonathan of the PDP scored 25 per cent votes in 31 states.” Out of the 38,209,978 total valid votes, Jonathan polled 22,495,187 votes (58.9 per cent) while his closest rival, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change came second with 12,214,853 votes or 31. 98 per cent.

Nigerian presidential elections have never been about issues or programmes,they are usually contested along the fault-lines of ethnicity and religion.Victory is usually secured by the incumbent- or for the pro-establishment-party,depending on whether the transition  is civilian-to-civilian or military-to-civilian.Thus political parties do not act as vehicles for aggregating political thought;no,they are more like cartels designed to trade access to power.But in order to avoid “civil war” within the ranks of the ruling elite,it became necessary to establish some sort of order of precedence.Given the emotivity of ethnicity and religion,a zoning formula based on these two had to be instituted.Thus came the PDP,Peoples democratic party,zoning accord of 1999,which allegedly stipulated that power should rotate between the North and South;each zone was to get 8 years.

According to this arrangement,after president Obasanjo‘s 8 year-tenure,power duly returned to the North with the presidency of Yaradua.But death intervened,truncating Yaradua’s presidency and leaving Jonathan,a southerner,as president.When Jonathan decided to run for president,certain segments of the North felt cheated,feeling that it was still the North’s turn,given that Yaradua did not complete his tenure.So the 2011 presidential election was about zoning.It was not only Northern elements who favoured zoning.Plenty of people within the southern elite also supported the zoning principle.In and outside of the PDP.It was no coincidence that of the four established parties,three had Northerners flying their presidential flags:Nuhu Ribadu of the Action congress of Nigeria,ACN;Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria peoples party,ANPP;Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for progressive change,CPC.

From this analysis,it is clear that support for zoning cuts across ethnic,religious and party lines.And no surprises there,for it is an elite stitch-up that enables the fleecing of the commonwealth.The reality is that irrespective of your ethnic or religious affiliations,if you are not a member of the elite group,you do not benefit from the zoning of offices.You,in fact,lose.Only members of the elite,those actively involved in the divvying of our wealth,benefit from zoning.And ordinary Nigerians seem to have caught-on.So they trooped out last Saturday to proclaim a loud NO,against zoning.Jonathan’s victory is a clear rejection of the burden of zoning.The South West provides dramatic evidence of this.Having rejected the PDP,in favour of the ACN,during the national assembly elections a week earlier,the people went out and voted for the presidential candidate of the PDP,rejecting the presidential candidate of the ACN,a Northerner.The elite stitch-up might have thrown up a Norherner as presidential candidate,but the masses were having none of it.

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One response to “Nigeria-2011 Presidential Election:A Referendum on Zoning

  1. codliveroil May 8, 2011 at 3:17 am

    The Nigerian elite and by quiet consent the masses of having adopted bankrupt political policies.

    1) Federal character, the concept is necessary to prevent some ethnic groups monopolising prestige positions. This does not mean that competency must be ditched in the process.
    2) Zoning, the idea of revolving power from the north to the south and visa versa.

    These two concepts combined have effectively made competency, and performance redundant, and have made affiliation, nepotism and corruption the key requirements. This can clearly be seen by the number of cabinet ministers who have been sacked, Yar’Adua sacked his entire cabinet after taking 6 weeks to select them. Johnathan has been sacking ministers left right and centre, having witnessed there woeful performance.

    The result of all of this, is that we have sub-standard people occupying positions they have no business to be in. Consequently, Nigeria continues to struggle to take one step forward whilst other nations are learning to jog, before breaking out into a sprint. We have been left sleeping in the starting blocks.

    The north (ie the sharia states), should recognise that zoning is a bankrupt system, that only benefits those who are part of the narrow circle, who can enrich themselves. The fact that Yar’Adua couldn’t serve out his term, doesn’t mean we should stick to an arrangement that was not beneficial. The northern masses and the Nigerian masses as a whole should have the wisdom and display enough maturity to realise that zoning should be done away with (apparently this still isn’t the case). Whether the president is from the north or the south is merely symbolic, the majority of the masses suffer just the same. Citing ethnicity and religion is a smokescreen to fool the masses into thinking they are benefiting by supporting one person or another.

    If as much energy was put into establishing a meritocratic system, with a degree of federal character (though much reduced), we wouldn’ t need lose so much sleep as to where the candidates come from, just as long as they can do the job. This is what Nigerian politics has lost sight of.

    The example you cited of the South West voting pattern, is more of an exception, where there is a “little” more order there, and the people don’t slavishly follow the dictats of traditional rulers or local ‘godfathers’.

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