The year 2015 was a peculiar year for Nigeria’s democracy. It was the first time that an opposition candidate defeated a sitting President in a Presidential election.
But President Muhammadu Buhari who benefitted from that historic feat may not have emerged as the country’s leader if the chieftains of the All Progressive Congress did not agree to a zoning formula in 2013 that allowed him to become the party’s candidate. According to the zoning agreement which was endorsed by all the leaders in APC, the North was supposed to produce the party’s presidential flagbearer between 2015 and 2023. And thereafter, the south will take its turn.
As at the time of coming up with the agreement, there were no dissenting voices. All the parties accepted the terms and spirit of the formula and they acknowledged that it was the best for the party.
But as the country draws near to the 2023 election, northern groups are beginning to raise stiff opposition to the agreement and they are threatening not to vote for a southern president in 2023.
First, it was the Northern Elders Forum that lambasted the Southern Governors Forum’s decision to demand a southern President in 2023.
The NEF insisted that the southern governors were wrong to have unilaterally demanded a Southern President without due consultation with the North. The group also played up the fact that the north may use its superior voting numbers to undermine any attempt to zone the Presidency to the South.
As if that was not enough, another influential Northern group, Arewa Consultative Forum didn’t mince words when it threatened that the north will use its numerical might against any party that zones its Presidential ticket to the South. Yerima Shetima rejected any attempt at zoning, adding that any party that does so is on its own.
The question then is, where were these people in 2013 when the APC leaders came up with the power rotation solution? And where were they when in 2015 Buhari a Northerner became the first APC candidate to benefit from the arrangement? .
Why are they suddenly finding their voices now that it is the turn of the South to benefit from the zoning agreement?
The Northern leaders should understand that the zoning formula was developed to deepen inclusiveness and oneness in Nigerian democracy and any attempt to kill it could undermine the country’s democracy and heat up the polity.
So, this is not about bragging about numerical strength, it is a matter of common sense. It is realizing that strength without control is dangerous even to the wellbeing of the North.
Do you think it is right for the northern to rise against Zoning after the region has benefitted from it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. While you are at it, also like and share so that others can comment too.