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DON'T DISCARD ZONING, POLICY PLEASE

By NBF News
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In our circumstances in Africa and even in other parts of the world, notably in non-western societies, democracy should reflect the culture, traditions and special needs of the people.

Thus, there could be variants of democracy to suit special circumstances provided that the basic focus is the people, their needs and wishes and how these can be satisfied. One thinks that in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like ours, a democratic system of politics and government anchored on the zoning principle of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) which ensures rotational Presidency and guarantees the various ethnic groups in the country, the opportunity to be at the helm of national affairs is a guarantee of peace and stability.

Under the current zoning arrangement perfected by PDP stakeholders in 2001, the various ethnic nationalities in the country are grouped into geo-political zones based on their similarities. Therefore, those who entrenched zoning in the PDP constitution has done the people of Nigeria, a world of good.

While the zoning policy was formalised by the PDP political leaders' agreement, it was given constitutional backing in the constitution of the party and has since 2002 reduced to the barest minimum, complaints of marginalisation and oppression from disadvantaged groups. This is because no group finds its necessary anymore to dissipate valuable time and energy on political agitation as they believe that it is a matter of time before they take their turn.

It should also be noted that before 2002 and the advent of the PDP, in 1998, Nigeria has practised zoning and sharing of political offices all geared towards entrenching fairness, justice and political stability.

Those who now argue that zoning and rotation of the Presidency is undemocratic and outdated are making a self-serving argument as Nigerians may black cannot be more democratic than the Europeans. The Presidency of Switzerland, a major and highly advanced European country rotates every six months among its constituents known as Cantons.

Perhaps if we perfect and stick to zoning, it may become the solution to many of the political problems afflicting African countries and which has undermined their political and economic development.

•Princess Oby Okoroma writes in from Abuja.