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LAWYER CANVASSES INCLUSION OF ZONING, IN CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

By NBF News
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Notable lawyer, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) has asked the National Assembly to enshrine the principle of zoning of the nation's presidency in the constitution in its task of amending the legal document and grandnorm of national being.

To the eminent Ibadan-based lawyer, it has become imperative for Nigeria to legally adopt rotation of the number one office among the six geo-political zones of the country in order to foster national cohesion, unity and peace, which he reasoned, were sine qua non for sustainable development.

The policy of zoning has strictly been an affair of political parties in a bid to ensure fair, balanced representation and inclusiveness of the diverse sections of the country in both government and party offices.

Ironically, in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), believed to be its chief proponent, it has been a source of controversy, and rancor due to perceived breach, subversion as inconsistent practice by powerful interests within the party.

Critics have also opposed the idea as undemocratic and capable of denying the nation of best talents and brains to drive its growth.

But Fagbemi, speaking against the backdrop of the dissensions, security upheavals and Boko Haram insurgency, believed to have been inspired by discontent northern political interests in protest against alleged robbery of the region of its slot by President Jonathan's contest of the 2011 presidential election, said zoning was the panacea for healing wounds and giving all sections of the country a sense of belonging, which alone, he said' could galvanize collective action towards ensuring success of the Nigeria Project.

His words: 'If we are to deceive ourselves, there are ethnic mistrusts and regardless of the pitfalls (of zoning) we have to assure ourselves that we are all equal. Only that can we get all hands on the deck'.

Fagbemi argued that it would be foolish to expect Nigeria to practice wholesale American democracy because of the differences in culture and backgrounds of the two countries, stressing that 'our own constitution must bear our own peculiar needs, characters and aspiration in both content and complexion.'

Besides, he observed that the United States' constitution had advanced and gone through several amendments.

Prince Fagbemi disagreed with critics who said zoning was undemocratic. He quipped: 'What is undemocratic there, if we all agree to the arrangement?'

He said the issue of zoning had not assumed such importance in the past. 'That was why the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo from the obscure corner of Ikenne-Remo in Ogun State and a school teacher like Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa from an unknown village in Bauchi could emerge Premier and Prim Minister, respectively in the First Republic.

'But now we have to address the issue of mistrust, so that everybody will have confidence and aspiration in Nigeria. It may get to a time we'll now say it is no longer necessary and revert to leaving the space upon for all to vie for.'

On the issue of which region the new arrangement should kick off from by 2015, the senior advocate said this was left for Nigerians to decide, stressing however, that it should not be the South-South which is enjoying the current slot or the South-West that had full two terms.

On President Jonathan's right and aspiration to contest in 2015, Fagbemi said 'It entails a lot of sacrifice on all sides. President Jonathan will write his name in gold if he spearheads the realization of the proposed arrangement by disqualifying himself from contesting from contesting- not because people say he shouldn't, after all he is a Nigeria in entitled to contest, but because of the critical situation. He should exclude himself.'