Williams: Nothing Wrong with Zoning Formula

Source: BABATOLA MICHAEL - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, June 22, (THEWILL) - Former Chairman of Transparency International and Executive Secretary of Pan-Africa Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG), Major General Ishola Williams (rtd) today added his voice to the raging debate on the legality of rotational presidency, arguing that there was nothing wrong with the zoning principle.

Williams, a retired general, human right activist and social crusader, held this view at the state secretariat, Lagos this afternoon at a forum on civil-military relations, adding that the new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega must be a magician to conduct credible 2011 elections. 

At a separate session after his presentation, Williams endorsed the principle of zoning and rotational presidency at the at civil-military forum held to discuss different challenges confronting members of the country’s armed forces and police and proffer the way forward.

The retired general explained that there was nothing wrong with rotational presidency and that if a political party subscribed to it, it should be equally and duly observed.

According to him, "I do not see why rotational presidency can bring about credible election. There is nothing bad about zoning. In a federal system, you must give everybody a chance. If political party decides to rotate presidency North and South, why do you not respect either informally and formally. But there must be integrity."  

Speaking on the 2011 elections, the retired general said if the new election umpire would be able to conduct free, fair and credible elections within six months without an effective and sustainable internal intelligent system required for such elections, it would be a miracle.

He said Jega "must be a magician to conduct such elections of this magnitude within six months. The job is enough, but Jega has promised to take up the challenges. How do you (referring to Jega) conduct elections of such magnitude within six months?"

"Any person appointed to do the job must be a magician. The National Assembly made constitution amendment with the promise that it will be passed without a waste of time. The longer the date the shorter the time for the person appointed to conduct election. Are you going to postpone the election to enable him plan the election?

"In other countries, elections are planned two years ahead. I do not think we should be in a hurry. The whole system is shoddy. For instance, many want to contest elections. They will tell you they have been cleared. You later discover that they are crooks.

"So, it will be difficult to set up an intelligent system within INEC to make sure those who are contesting elections are not crooks. I do not know why they are afraid of Option A4. The internal democracy within political parties is porous. It will take some time to set up a credible and intelligent system that can guarantee credible polls," he added.

Williams however expressed hope that Jega "will do the job. Give him a chance. He is a political scientist. He was a consultant to INEC. I am sure that can help him out."