There is a strong nexus between zoning and political parties in Nigeria’s democracy today. In fact, in any liberal democracy, party politics and zoning are two vital elements that no one can brush aside with a wave of hand due to the fact that party politics are the vehicle and veritable tool for enhancing democracy in Nigeria while zoning herein referred to as “power shift” is majorly a mechanism for uniting various diverse people in the country today. I strongly believe that the practise of modern democracy would totally be impossible without the existence of political parties but I have asked myself a couple of times, if zoning system can produce the best leadership material suitable for the development needed in Nigeria today at these critical times?
However, my search revealed the answer buried deep in the factors responsible for political zoning in Nigeria.
Causes of Political Zoning
The political system in Nigeria had over the years been impaired with tribalism, electoral malpractice, ethnicity and religious intolerance. Thus, led some patriots in the country to call for a modified and structured arrangement which will enable inclusive and active political participation, political stability, peace and fairness in Nigeria. The truth is that Nigeria’s hope have usually been centralised on how to develop a comprehensive and universally accepted framework of organisation for active political participation, equitable distribution of power and a crisis free government which will allow for the rotation of all the political offices including both the executive and legislative among the identifiable geographic locations in Nigeria such as North East, North West, South West, South East and the North Central.
Furthermore, the adoption of a zoning system was basically to fashion out a new formula to create a foundation for the equitable distribution of power even though this might not be constitutional nor democratic, it has enabled the interests and inclusion of diverse people in the sharing of power. Although, the political zoning was designed primarily for the federal system of government, it has equally been adopted in the local and state levels of authority for the ease in the diffusion of government.
In addition, the target to ensure equal representation of government at all levels was one of the principal factors for establishing the zoning structure in Nigeria polity. In recent times, the hope of the country was that the perfection of this principle will go a long way to diffuse religious, ethnic and other sectional interests in government. But for a country that is barely two decades into democracy, the development index is still crawling and not too encouraging.
Effects of Zoning System in Nigeria
I am a firm believer that the zoning principle is part of a democratic culture used for fair play in our country today, as it counters negative impulses and the tendency of a group of people to remain in political offices as long as possible and use the nation’s resources to service their selfish interests as well as an antidote to a practise that promote corruption, breed inefficiency and engenders nepotism which in turn deprive growth and development.
Judging from a cursory glance, the zoning system of democracy in Nigeria had been marred with corruption and inefficiency, which I believe is due to the challenge of ethnicity, as the fear of domination of one ethnic group or section has been one of the major factors restraining political stability in the nation today. Also, digging deep into Nigeria politics, if power is allowed to systematically rotate between different zones in government, our political space will not only widen, but the process will definitely throw out capable leaders who can transform our country and take it to greater heights.
Moreover, many office holders in politics today had participated below expectations because every incumbent leader focus more priorities on his people or zone by establishing policies that will only favour the economic development of his zone thereby deselecting the development projects in other regions of the country. It is quite disheartening today that some political leaders in the nation today have now adopted this zoning system of government to attain progressive and retrogressive movement in the Nigeria polity.
Political Zoning: The Way Forward
I believe that in order to effectively tackle the political zoning system in Nigeria today, steps must be taken by governments to regain the trust and goodwill of the people. Political leaders must channel deliberate actions at delivering on the plans set out in their manifestoes. This will consist in tackling infrastructure deficit particularly in the underserved parts of Nigeria. In addition, the government needs to actively involve the citizens in decision making. The increasing youth population in Nigeria can be leveraged to produce a viable partnership between the political leaders and the electorates.
Furthermore, in building a solid foundation for leadership and good governance in Nigeria, our security infrastructure must be vigorously addressed. For example, In the North, fulani-herders clash, Boko Haram terrorist and bandits have become like the Roman god “Antheus” who keep getting stronger when thrown to the ground. This threat has become an issue of serious concern to our political system. Consequently, the gospel of ideal democracy needs to be taken into the heartlands of Nigeria’s polity. Active steps must be taken to sensitize Nigerians on the rights and duties embedded in liberal democracy.
I believe that the attempt to restore equity was thus the quest for a paradigm shift in egalitarianism, which was what found expression in the concept of zoning in Nigeria today, therefore; in order to tackle the concerns of election rigging in the country and foster development, the government may capitalize on observation records made by some international election observation missions such as the international Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) and ECOWAS Mission to trace electoral irregularities and punish defaulters accordingly. This will in turn create a restructure in the political system of our country and give a call to rescue of the gospel of ideal democracy in our nation.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The democratic system of zoning in Nigeria is envisage to improve unity and evenly distribute resources across different regions and political strata of the economy, but it’s subsequent suspension as a result of change of governance and party politics may necessitate its effect on the economy. I believe strongly that the elements of a zoning structure, vis-à-vis, justice, equity, unity and fairness have strong positive correlation with the socio-economic growth and development of the nation. However, if not well practise, may cause a decline in the growth of our economy. In the same vein, it is now left for all Nigerians to take the bull by the horns and press towards a better structure for governance in the nation.
- Zoning Formula and the Party Politics in Nigeria Democracy: Department of Political Science, Joseph Ayo Babalola University; Ayo Awopeju, Olufemi Adelusi and Ajinde Oluwashakin.
- The Effect of Democratic Zoning System on the Nigeria Economy: Evidence of Niger State.
- Political Apathy: The Harbinger of Political Doom by OID 2020; Moses Olanrewaju
Oyinlola Abosede, a graduate of Chemical Engineering from Obafemi
Awolowo University is an intellectual fighter for emancipation.
and an advocate on social issues. He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org