By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja.
National Conference Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government today recommended the entrenching of the zoning principle in the electoral Act.
The decision was reached by the committee after an exhaustive debate by members who want it to form part of the provisions of the 1999 constitution and others who said it should be the business of the political parties to decide where they will zone power to enhance their electoral fortunes.
The Co-Chairman of the committee and a delegate representing North East geo-political zone, Honourable Mohammed Kumaila in reading out the resolution said that rotational principle will be entrenched in the electoral act and in the political parties constitution to reflect how power will be zoned in the states and the centre.
Earlier speaking on the debate, the former deputy governor of Kogi State and a delegate representing North Central geo-political zone, Dr. Philip Salawu supported the zoning principle which he said should be practiced at centre, states and local government. The Ebira Kogi State born politician said that presidency should alternate between North and South on the basis of the six geo-political zone.
Salawu said that it should be included in the 1999 federal constitution. He went on to say that making it constitutional will reduce the clamour for state creation.
“If you entrench zoning in our constitution, the quest for state creation would not been necessary anymore” he said.
A delegate representing South East zone and Chairman Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe (Amb) Lawrence Agubuzu told the committee to decide on how the rotation will work to save the delegates the stress of going through many processes.
The Enugu state born traditional ruler maintained that the rotational principle should be based geo political zones since it has been used to determine our sharing formula.
Agubuzu posited that South East and North East have been marginalized in terms of producing the president. He urged the delegates to support the zones to produce the president in 2019. First with South East and later to North East, saying that it will save the nation unnecessary crises.
A delegate representing federal government, Jonathan Tamlong, who said that he shared the sentiment of rotation argued that rotation will give everybody the opportunity to occupy the highest political office in Nigeria.
He suggested that political parties should include zoning in their constitutions to protect special interest.
“It has to be institutionalized. We also ask the parties to include zoning in their constitutions as it affects all levels of government. It should not be included in the constitution but given legal backing beyond the constitution and it should be entrenched in the electoral law” the Plateau State born retired general said.
A delegate representing federal government and former minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri, who opposed rotation on the basis that it does always bring out the best to manage the affairs of the people, said that a level playing ground should be provided for everybody irrespective of tribe or religion.
He went on to say that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was elected owing to the certain particularities he possessed, while President Goodluck Jonathan was elected against zoning.
“I believe that a level playing ground should be given to every Nigerian. The Strenght of the nation is not in the quantity but in the quality. Goodluck was elected against the zoning formular. Obasanjo was elected not on any sentiment in 1999 but because of certain attributes that he possessed” the Yobe State former guber candidate said.