By Nicodemus Mikailu
Almost as an electoral routine, the running issue of zoning of public offices comes up anytime elections are drawing near. It does not matter whatever the agreement had been.
Some politicians and opinion writers like Zayad I Muhammad revel in creating and escalating confusion in the polity.
Last Saturday, an opinion written by the name Zayyad I Muhammad had taken a frenzy in an opinion in a national newspaper to vent his anger and frustration on Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa state due to the influence of those using him to fan the embers of disunity between a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and the Governor.
Recently the main opposition party in Nigeria, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has given Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa state an arduous task of organizing the upcoming convention of the party as chairman of the convention, also created a committee lead by Enugu state governor, Ugwuanyi to head the zoning committee of the party, which eventually submitted it’s reported and zoned the party chairmanship to the north against the expectation of many that it will be retained in the South as speculation was rife that the PDP will choose its presidential candidate from the north.
The 2019 election saw PDP losing most of its state to the APC, especially in northern Nigeria; Bauchi, Adamawa, Sokoto and Taraba state happened to be among the four northern states being retained by the PDP against the South that boosted of almost 90 per cent of the governors on its platform which I believe is responsible for rejection of a political arrangement that will see the northern part of the country producing the next president in 2023.
It is a contra response to the position of the Southern Governors Forum, which has met a couple of times in recent months, insisting that the next president has to come from the South.
According to the argument of the Northern Governors, the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria does not recognize zoning.
They also argued that even if there is a zoning arrangement, the North still has some years to even up with the number of years the South has presided over the country as president since the dawn of the 4th republic.
They argued that the north’s turn was cut short following President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s unfortunate demise in 2010 while serving his first term in office.
His then Vice, Goodluck Jonathan, succeeded him, completed that term, and won the presidential election in 2011 and governed till 2015.
So, the northern governors are clever by half by claiming that the constitution does not recognize zoning. Technically, the constitution does not make a zoning provision, yet the political parties have always had that understanding among their members. But even then, the constitution provides for a federal character in such a way that no one part of the country is seen to be over-dominating the country’s affairs either in appointments or electoral process.
Back to the accusation of Zayyad I Muhammad, that Fintiri practically failed to respond to the question put by a BBC anchor if the governor will support Atiku in 2023 for the presidency, in that interview, the governor practically refused to preempt himself in order not to d deviate from the electoral act that forbids media campaign before being declared open by the electoral umpire.
Zayyad, in his jaundiced and sponsored, writes up accused the Governor of not showing support for Atiku by openly admitting to supporting him. He went ahead to accuse Fintiri of a double standard when it comes to Atiku’s dream of contesting in 2023. Still, he failed to understand that Fintiri, in all honesty, has paid his due to his party and Atiku by not only professing it but practically proving his loyalty to him.
Many factors were responsible for PDP grabbing power in Adamawa. The Atiku factor is one; the Governor demonstrated unalloyed support by appointing the son of the former vice president, Adamu Atiku, as commissioner and core Atiku boys in his cabinet, the likes of Alhaji Yayaji Minjin Yawa, Daware Umar Iya, Umaru Garba Pella, Ardo Jada, AK Jingi, Prof. Maxwell Gidado the current chief of staff to the governor and many special advisers and some members currently serving in the House of Assembly and Reps members that are boys to Atiku.
In a bid to give a dog a bad name and hang it, Zayyad Muhammad shot himself in the foot by claiming that Atiku failed to recognize the 100 per cent loyalty to him by Boni Haruna, a former governor of the state to support a half-hearted fellow regarding his 2023 ambition. In their poor criticism, they have equally accused Atiku of not valuing loyalty.
What criteria has this fellow used in determining the loyalty of Governor Fintiri to his party and Atiku? In 2015 we were all in Adamawa state when the former Vice President presented 500 million naira as a gift to the APC to boost its winning chance in Adamawa, if I recall Atiku himself was not a contestant in 2015?
Yet, he donated a massive amount to the APC then. We have yet to hear such a colossal amount donated to the PDP in Adamawa in the build-up to the 2019 elections, yet the Governor never disrespected him for once.
Suppose the BBC interview was the yardstick used by Zayyad and his sponsors to justify their jaundiced write up against the governor. In that case, it means their writeup is dead on arrival; Fintiri and the party zoning committee were all appointed by the NEC of the party as Fintiri was not responsible for the decision of the zoning committee to pave the way for this venom from Zayyad and his sponsors.
Yet Fintiri for the umpteenth time made it clear that the decision of the zoning committee has not foreclosed the ticket to any zone in 2023; in fact, Zayyad failed to understand that despite the north producing several chairpersons of the party in 1999 and 2003, Gemade and several northern candidates contested against Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and at the end who the cap fit won the contest then.
Finally, Zayyad again must be told that in 2019 the PDP took its presidential primary to Rivers state, the domain of Wike. Yet, Atiku won convincingly, so the so-called romance between governor Fintiri and Wike may not stop Atiku if he is destined to win.
Stop doubting the Nigerian system.
For God’s sake, we are 61 today, but we are filled with scepticism for our nation. Let’s believe that things will work in Nigeria. We cannot remain with our pessimism 61 years after. The story cannot remain the same.