Zoning, Don't Kill Jonathan.
My concern on this subject matter is that President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria must save himself and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today and secure a more weighty political honour that will benefit the South-South political zone better in the future than now. This is because those who are against him (contesting for the 2011 presidential election) in the Northern part of Nigeria are not only dangerous, they are desperate. Also, their argument is based on principle and this is more powerful. On the other hand, those who want him to contest the 2011 election base their arguments on greed, crafted out of opportunism and sentimentalism. When it comes to the terminal price, it is Jonathan who will solely pay it. For example, will they die with Jonathan if his presidential plane is caused to malfunction and crashes or if there is a military coup and he is eliminated or if he is poisoned or assassinated by his guards etc?
So, let us examine the zoning debate based on principle or greed. One of the intellectual criticisms against the Nigerian political elites is that politics in Nigeria appears to be ideologically-empty. But the zoning debate has revealed that the PDP is not ideologically void. Note that zoning of the presidency has arisen due to the fear of smaller ethnic groups of political domination by the bigger groups.
The solution so far provided before 1998 when Nigeria began to prepare for civil rule has been unsuccessful. Hence, the PDP in 1998 considered it very important to provide a political ideology-solution that will address the fear of domination or access to the presidency. That solution was the zoning principle. It states that all ethnic groups in Nigeria within the PDP can have access to the president position on a rotatory basis for a maximum eight years at a time. Its key objectives are to guarantee political equity and accommodation in Nigeria . To achieve its smooth implementation, the PDP divided the country into six geo-political zones, three each to the South and North. Indeed the PDP zoning principle is the only genuine political ideology of the party that makes it different and relevant in Nigerian politics today. It provides a democratic understanding for power sharing in a federation of diverse and different peoples that need to be equally fairly treated, respected and accommodated.
Based on this principle, the South was allowed to rule and it enjoyed its full eight years presidency from 1999 to 2007. In 2007, power was rotated or shifted to the North and Jonathan (from the South) became the Vice President (VP) of Nigeria with late Yar'Adua (from the North) as president and the full circle of this latter tenure is 2015. Unfortunately, we lost our president just after about three years in office. The periodic price the North has to pay for the untimely death of Yar'Adua is the loss of one year to Jonathan. It is therefore preposterous, illogical and deceitful for some people to say that Yar'Adua's death 'has naturally re-ordered the course of the zoning system…' It did not! By PDP's zoning principle, the North is still entitled to the remaining four years to 2015. To progress as a political group, Nigeria must be patient and allow political principles be. If Jonathan contests and succeeds to become president on 29 th May 2011 , he would have destroyed this beautiful idea and will unnecessarily cause unquantifiable damage to the political development of Nigeria under the PDP leadership. This certainly will be a very sad, ugly and sorry history for the South-South in Nigeria . Jonathan must know that principles build; greed and sentiments destroy.
Jonathan and I are from the same geo-political zone: the South-South in the Southern part of Nigeria . As a 'brother' from Ikwerre, I sincerely advise Jonathan never to fall to this seductive trap being set for him by his enemy friends in and out of politics. The tempting arguments they present are based on greed and illogical history. You should know that Nigerians did not vote for you as a President in 2007; rather as a VP. That you are a President today was by default and this default must not be stretched too far. Also the one year period you have to spend as President rightly belongs to the North based on the zoning principle of the PDP. Jonathan must not go for or aspire to take what does not rightly belong to him or the South-South. To contest next year's presidential election under the PDP means that you do not respect principles and orderliness. The right to vote and be voted for must be within agreed political principles, otherwise the right becomes a source of trouble.
Some political idlers, ignorant opportunists, greedy political prostitutes and unserious minds have argued that zoning is undemocratic and abhors merit. There is nothing more undemocratic and lacking in merit to have one ethnic group rule and dominate Nigeria's political landscape for over thirty years of its political independence, while the rest grumble, fear, agitate and play second fiddle. Truly, in a federation like ours, zoning is more democratic because it addresses some of the key issues in federalism: fairplay and accommodation of all for national unity and stability. With zoning, it is expected that Nigeria , through PDP, will gradually, consistently, turn-by-turn tap into some sound political minds that abound in the ethnic groups across the country. When the presidency is zoned to a group, that group is expected to present their best candidate. This is where the PDP needs to do some further works to ensure that a zone must give its best candidate to the party. What happened in the case of the late President Yar'Adua was that PDP, out of some intimidating respect for Obasanjo, allowed him to decide the matter alone. What should have been respected was the process and not the driver of it. At all times, the party, her principles and processes must be seen above the individuals who make up the party. In the process that produced Yar'Adua, Obasanjo was given a blank cheque to choose whoever he deemed okay as long as the person was from the North. This was expensive and the rest is now history.
On the other hand, some people strongly feel Jonathan must contest the presidential election next year. Their political interest is greed. But political greed is different from political interest. Political interest is pure and it is ready to be achieved through legitimate principles and processes that are ethical and acceptable. For example, it is the political interest of President Barack Obama of the United States of America (USA) to use a new 'Health Bill' to re-invigorate the middle productive class in the USA and reduce the level of despondency, destitution, unemployment and lack of hope in the country. But consistent angling for increase in remunerations by the average Nigerian politician in power is political greed. Because Nigeria cannot satisfy a very negative virtue like greed, the politicians have long resorted to resource control, bribe-for-budget, inflation of capital projects' budgets, unilateral increase in NDDC budget, increase in the federal budget by over N300 billion, continuous increase in the budget for constituency projects funding etc as arm-twisting backyard indirect ways of stealing the funds of the Federation of Nigeria, while the people they represent have continued to suffer. It is in order to sustain this level of official stealing and maintain illicit lifestyles that they will always want to kill politics of principles and pure interests.
In this group, and as it relates to Jonathan for 2011, includes all PDP executives and members who now mischievously preach merit not zoning; all the Northerners who are urging Jonathan to jettison the zoning principle and contest; all his highly unprincipled staff and aids; all those in the Diaspora who want to partake in the looting of Nigeria via Jonathan; all his relatives, friends and alumni who see this as their greatest opportunity to steal from Nigeria; all his wife's relatives, friends and associates who have being telling Dame that this is her turn to leak the sweetest honey from the federation account; all the Edwin Clarks and Ijaw groups who speak from all corners of their mouth without insisting that Jonathan should make history with the few months remaining in his presidency to work hardest on rehabilitating the oil-devastated environment in the Niger Delta, provide free education to the youths of the area and provide basic functional facilities that can support economic productivity in Ijawland. All these people are students of Judas Iscariot (the father of greed) whose ultimate reward is cardiac arrest.
Whatever the North has to compensate the old Rivers State , Cross River and Akwa Ibom people for their age-long political support to the North can always be given to us when it is our turn to contest and have the presidency under PDP. They should not support us when it is not ripe. After all, 2031 is just by the corner! A necessary and sufficient caveat must be made at this point: to successfully dissuade Jonathan from contesting the 2011 presidential election, the PDP must guarantee that the Northerner who takes over in 2011 must compulsorily leave office in 2015. The only problem to this is political greed. For example, will IBB or Atiku if either of them wins the election in 2011 under the PDP, agree to relinquish power in 2015? This is the almighty question for the PDP North to answer.
The greatest honour I would like Jonathan to have is the respect Obasanjo had on 1 st October 1979 . If Jonathan makes up his mind not to contest, he will have the decorum to give quality attention to his electric power pet project and ensure a credible election next year. This is the part of great honour. The gains of such focused Jonathan presidency belong to the future and that is what every good politician with sound principles must aspire to.
The PDP zoning principle is a good idea that suits a federal state like Nigeria . Zoning is the only solid idea from the PDP which should constitute the basis for a credible opposition from other parties. Zoning must be allowed to make its mistakes, correct them and move on such that in the next fifty years, it would have matured. Without zoning, PDP is like every other party in Nigeria . We need differences in ideologies for the effective processing of Nigeria 's socio-political challenges. President Goodluck Jonathan must not allow himself to be remembered as the one who frustrated and killed the process of the evolution and development of the zoning political ideology. What we want to see is a Jonathan that plays the politics of principles and not of greed. This way, PDP zoning will save Jonathan. By Okachikwu Dibia