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Why zoning, Rotation And Federal Character Matter (1)

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VERY diverse political entity which desires to last long and prosper must find ways of carrying constituent members of their union along. Every group must be made to have a sense of belonging in, and ownership of the union.

Since independence, Nigeria has had more than its fair share of crises of confidence which resulted in the Western Region’s political crisis in the First Republic, the Biafra-Nigeria War of 1967 -1970 and the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola.

Additionally, we have seen the Ogoni uprisings of the early 1990s, the Niger Delta Ijaw militancy of the middle 1990s and 2000s. It was the cosmetic handling of the post-Civil War situation that has resurrected Biafra under the auspices of the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the first obvious Yoruba Nation separatism, which are still on.

Nigeria’s diversity crisis has proved recurring and unending because due to selfishness and greed, we have failed to implement agreed protocols to entrench equity, justice and fair play and achieve a sense of common Nigerian ownership.

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As we prepare to determine the political leader who will fix Nigeria after President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime, we must remain true to the principles of rotation, zoning and federal character in power-sharing.

The need to adopt power rotation and zoning has its roots back in the early 1980s when the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN, intended to ensure that a Southern president took over from President Shehu Shagari in 1987.

The coup of December 31, 1983 derailed that vision. But after the annulment of the 1993 presidential election and the consequent National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, uprising, the Igbo delegates to the Constitutional Conference dusted up the rotation/zoning and creation of the geopolitical zones to the Conference.

The Conference also decided to carry forward the Federal Character principle which was already part of the 1979 Constitution.

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Though the Northern delegates at the Conference ensured that the geopolitical zones and power rotation were voted out at the plenaries, the Provisional Ruling Council, PRC, led by General Sani Abacha adopted them as part of our political culture, though they were not put in the Constitution.

Abacha overruled the Northern delegates because he appeared determined to address the sense of sectional domination and risk of national break-up that the annulment provoked.

When Abacha died, General Abdulsalami Abubakar who succeeded him ensured that the Federal Character principle was enshrined in the 1999 Constitution to ensure that no part of the country was allowed to dominate any organ of the Federal Government henceforth.

In addition, he led the efforts to suspend the presidential aspirations of Northern politicians in order to allow the South-West produce the next elected president of Nigeria.

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