3rd August, 2010
There appears to be no end to the daily threats being issued by zoning protagonists to force the rest of us who do not share in their fantasy to toe their line. It is really sad that at this period of our democratic experiment, some so-called leaders still believe that the only way they can persuade those who do not support their position on national issues is by threatening fire and brimstone.
Those who are pro-zoning have been threatening to set the country ablaze if the obnoxious system which they unilaterally introduced in their party, the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP, was abandoned to enable a Southerner, President Goodluck Jonathan, contest next yearâ€™s presidential election, instead of a Northerner.
But pray, what concerns the rest of the country with what is clearly a PDP internal arrangement to warrant everybody being assailed with threats and counter threats? The airspace is awash with threats of setting the country ablaze if the zoning arrangement was jettisoned for the South to take another shot at the Presidency shortly after another Southerner spent eight years on the seat.
According to a northern elder, Alhaji Abu Gidado,who is also a former acolyte of the late former dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, â€œthe issue is with the president as a candidate, if he is hell-bound to succeed, he can set this country ablaze.â€™â€™
One would have thought that the resolution of the Northern governors, that zoning is an internal arrangement of the PDP and that President Jonathan has the right to contest like all other qualified Nigerians, would have doused the controversy over zoning but the reverse is the case. Days after the governorsâ€™ resolution, a number of groups and political leaders, mostly from the North, have been giving their own interpretation of theÂ resolution. They are now making it a do-or-die issue and have relegated every other issue relating to governance to the background.
Rather than focus on how to achieve credible polls in 2011 and assist the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC) in its preparations for the polls, pro-zoning elements are busy dissipating energy on a divisive issue capable of tearing the country apart. It is time for Nigerians to call these people to order.
There are more important issues that should engage all patriotic Nigerians than zoning. We should focus on developmental issues affecting the country instead ofÂ losing sleep over those that will drive a wedge between the countryâ€™s disparate entities.
We are calling on President Jonathan to stay focused and continue the business of governance. He should remember that he has a short time to convince Nigerians in 2011 that he can deliver them from their woes. There are many problems besetting the nation and only a focused leadership can solve them. Electricity is still a big problem, so also is unemployment. Rather than be distracted by those shouting themselves hoarse over zoning, the president should concentrate on providing the necessities of life to the citizens.
Thank God, the president knows how volatile the issue can be and has directed his aides not to join issues with pro-zoning agitators. We are also appealing to these people not to set this country ablaze by their inordinate desire to have their way at all costs. Nigeria is greater than any individual or ethnic groupÂ and nothing should be done to heat up the polity. Nigeria needs peace to be able to achieve its potentials.
The most pressing issue facing the country now is how to hold a credible election, come 2011. Every assistance must be given to INEC to compile a fresh votersâ€™ register to be able to achieve this. In doing this we are calling on the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to start an enlightenment campaign immediately to sensitise voters on the forthcoming election. Votersâ€™ education on the Electoral Act is also important.
Nigerians should be sensitised to shun tribal sentiment and other vices whileÂ electing their leaders. Political parties should also cooperate with INEC to ensure a credible election next year. We have a very short time to achieve this.