10th June, 2011
This is definitely not the best of times for the South-West Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the election of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and his Deputy, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, may have signalled the death of zoning and the party in the region.
Tambuwal is from Sokoto State, Northwest Nigeria.
The ruling PDP on Monday ran into a brick wall as it could not enforce the power-sharing arrangement with the election of Tambuwal against the partyâ€™s directive to elect Mulikat Akande-Adeola as the new Speaker.
Since its establishment in 1998, zoning of political offices has been a major pillar of the PDP, a policy aimed at ensuring that no section of the country is marginalised.
Section 7(2) of the PDPâ€™s Constitution states: â€œIn pursuant of the principles of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels.â€
Therefore, few days after the April polls, the the party released another zoning arrangement, giving the Speakership of the House to the Southwest, Deputy and the PDP Chairmanship to the North-east.
It also gave the Senate presidency to the North Central,deputy Senate presidencyto and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to the South-East.
No sooner had the party announced the new sharing arrangement, than some lawmakers sternly rejected it.
Tambuwal, in spite of warnings by the party leadership insisted on contesting the Speakership. The lawmaker found allies in the opposition parties, particularly the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC.
The former deputy Chief Whip of the House, a member of the anti-zoning movement in the House was able to get the support of the majority of the 266 fresh members.
Most of the Southwest members, largely from the ACN allegedly struck a deal with the new Speaker to votefor him.
The ACN, which believes that voting for Adeola-Akande would amount to arming its enemy, mobilised support for Tambuwal. The step, according to the partyâ€™s lawmakers, would nail the coffin of the PDP in the Southwest.
The inauguration of the National Assembly saw the Southwest being the worst hit with position for the zone.
Meanwhile, prominent Yoruba leaders have continued to bemoaned the loss of the Speakership position zoned to the Southwest by the PDP to the North.
They described the loss of the number four position as sad, unfortunate and strange, adding that the development would relegate the zone to the background in the nationâ€™s polity.
â€œIn all arms of government, the Southwest will be nowhere to be found and would also have no say or protection when important decisions that concern their development are been taken,â€ a distraught PDP stalwart, from Southwest was quoted as saying.