Tag Archives: politics

Is ‘zoning’ letting Nigerians down?

A recent piece in the Economist highlights the system of zoning, that Nigeria employs to alternate power between the north and south of the country. In the Economist’s words: “Candidates are picked alternatively from north and south behind closed doors and presented to voters in rigged polls.”

I have to agree with the message of the piece, which is essentially saying that zoning does not work. In a country of approximately 150 million people, they need a government that consists of the best people for the job – through merit rather than where they come from.

Since independence 50 years ago, Nigeria has not achieved its full potential as ‘the giant of Africa’. Public services across the nation are all but non-existent, corruption is rife and democracy, in the true meaning of the word, is  not being practiced.

Another extract: “The zoning system…tends to produce poor leaders. Only the well-connected get to the front of the queue. Usually they are incompetent,too,since the regional barons who anoint them like weak figures who will not challenge the status quo.”

Food for thought – What do you think? Is zoning an out-dated idea that produces poor leaders, or is it still the best way to deal with ethnic tensions within Nigeria? Comments below.


Ex-Ambassador warned to hush by presidential aide

The claim made by a former Nigerian ambassador that President Goodluck Jonathon will not be contesting at next year’s election, has been slammed by the The Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Sully Abu.

Goodluck ignores zoning rules

Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, ambassador to Switzerland from 1981-84, has made no secret of his discontent for Goodluck standing for election next year.  Earlier on in the year Kwande said: “To my mind, it would not be fair for him to contest in 2011. The circumstance that made him president was an unfortunate one and his emergence has been accepted without question. But there is no point for him to break an existing arrangement by contesting in 2011. That would not be fair.”

Goodluck assumed the presidency in February this year, while the president at the time, Umaru Yar’Adua, was taken ill. After a long spell of ill-health, Yar’Adua died and Goodluck continued in his role – without any formal transfer of power. Goodluck’s reception in the country has been divided, with those who are yet to see any significant changes since his rule, and those who hang on faithfully to his promises of bringing transformation to the country.

In strong words directed at the ex-ambassador, Abu said: “President Jonathan has never contemplated and is not contemplating withdrawing from the race for the presidency in 2011. He [Kwande] is neither a spokesman for Jonathan nor a supporter of his cause. He, therefore, lacks, absolutely, the credentials to speak for the President.”

Kwande has also criticised President Goodluck on his apparent disregard for the ‘zoning‘ laws of the country. Zoning is, in short, a complex answer to a complex country which houses more than 250 different ethnic groups. The basic principle of zoning is to ensure power is rotated between key ethnic groups and maintain civil peace as a result. Ex-president Obasanjo saw off eight years of rule as a southern president before Yar’Adua (from the north) took over. This is zoning – turns of power between the north and south. However, Yar’Adua did not get to serve a full term as president before his death, and a man from the south, Goodluck took over. As a result – the north are hungry for power again.

The ruling party, PDP, denied zoning the 2011 presidency to the north, saying in an Abuja High Court:

“It is not correct to state that the presidential flag bearer of the 1st Defendant for the 2011 election is zoned to Northern Nigeria.  [The PDP] allows its presidential candidate to emerge democratically from the pool of aspirants, thereafter, other positions, like the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, National Chairman of the party, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), etc are zoned.”

This dangerous U-turn in policy is what Kwande has hit back at, asking: “Can a nation earn respect when its leaders don’t respect the truth and honour? If zoning doesn’t affect the office of the President, why didn’t former President Obasanjo bring a Yoruba presidential candidate to succeed him in 2007? Why did he have to bring the late Yar’Adua to succeed him?”

Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka speaks on Nigeria’s ‘bloody decade’

The Nobel laureate described the past decade in Nigerian politics as ‘bloody’ and criticised the practice of suspected murderers being allowed to stand for election from their jail cell.

The Nobel winner slams Nigerian politics

These inflammatory comments were made last Thursday at the book launch of Microseconds Away From Death – written by former Chief Press Secretary to the Ogun State Governor, Mr. Wale Adedayo. Commenting on the violent nature of political proceedings in the country, Soyinka said: “A lot of assassinations and attempted assassinations have gone on. In fact, it has been a bloody decade. Of all these high profile murders, amazingly, none have been solved. It is really amazing. In some cases, suspected murderers are even sprung out of jail and stand elections right from their prison cell and are catapulted straight to some of the most powerful places in the law making houses of this nation.”

One example of criminals being ‘catapulted’ into positions of power is that of Theodore Orji. In 2007,  Orji was in prison on charges of financial fraud, yet managed to get elected as Governor of Abia State –  to takeover from Uzor Kalu, who was serving as governor at the time – and was said to have been the helping hand in Orji’s appointment.

So what do you think – is Soyinka justified in making such comments? What do you think of the circumstances around Theodore Orji’s appointment and his subsequent work in Abia?

Is the multitude of security agencies a waste of time and resources?

The chairman of the Police Service Commission has slammed numerous Nigerian security agencies – including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) – as ‘useless’ at the opening of a three-day biennial retreat in Ibom State. Mr Parry Osayande, who has been chairman since April, 2008 described the groups as “white elephant security agencies”.

Osayande argued that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) had been undermined in effectiveness due to numerous security agencies, and that the NPF has been left lacking in funds and governmental support. His views were backed by the minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Waziri, but received criticism from the Minister of Interior – Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho. Iheanacho hit back saying that it would be impossible to manage the security agencies in Nigeria under just one organisation.

The NPF has been criticised for deep seated corruption and violence. In 2008, a news story about the murder of a driver who refused to pay policemen the expected ’20-naira-checkpoint-bribe’surprised few. The brutality of police in Nigeria seems so engrained in the culture that most do not expect anything less than violence in return for non-cooperation.

So, is the chairman missing the point? Is it a lack of funds and an excess of parallel security agencies the real problem, or something much more complex?