Zoning same as Federal Character — Selfish people say it’s unconstitutional – Ex- Atiku’s Spokesman

Zoning same as Federal Character — Selfish people say it’s unconstitutional – Ex- Atiku’s Spokesman

A former Commissioner for Information in Edo state, and one time aide to former Peoples Democratic Party Presidentual candidate, Kassim Afegbua has said there are grounds for zoning of political offices in the constitution.

Afegbua said “zoning means the same thing as federal character” and only aspirants with “selfish and egocentric” interests would say that there is no such provision in the constitution.

Section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution stipulates that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”.

In a statement on Sunday, Afegbua who was the spokesperson of the Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign organisation during the 2019 general election, said those saying zoning is not in the constitution are “only trying to be clever by half”.

“I have read some aspirants talking about the absence of zoning in the Nigeria Constitution. In order to serve their selfish end and contest the 2023 presidential election against the run of play, they have resorted to making references to the 1999 constitution to support their weak argument against the zoning of political offices,” the statement reads.

“It must be stated unequivocally that zoning means the same thing as Federal Character, which is expressly captured in the 1999 constitution. The federal character talks about the political balancing of positions and appointments, which is the same thing as zoning.

“Zoning means ‘divide into or assign to zones’, positions and appointments whether by way of election or appointment.

“For those who are declaring that there is no zoning in the constitution, why has it been the practice that each time a candidate emerges from the North, his Vice Presidential candidate comes from the South, and vice-versa.

“The Senate President is also zoned to another geopolitical zone, ditto for the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, and even the Secretary of the Government of the Federation.

“If there is no zone, these positions could have been concentrated in one geopolitical zone, but for that Federal Character provision in the constitution, which is similar to zoning, we have made it a point of duty to observe zoning.

“In a plural society like Nigeria, given our diversities, one cannot do without zoning and power-sharing. No matter how nepotistic the Buhari presidency is, it has observed the principle of zoning positions to create some level of balance. I am aware that President Buhari’s style has been skewed in favour of his Northern zone.

“The media owes it a duty to educate Nigerians on the therapeutic effect of zoning and applying the doctrine of federal character which has been in place since the independence of Nigeria. It is an attraction we cannot run away from given our peculiarities, sensibilities and equivocation.

“As a party, if you choose not to zone by way of balancing the algorithms, take all your candidates from a section of the country and let us watch how your political fortunes pan out. Those who are reading the constitution upside down or trying as it were, to twist the logic of zoning to suit their bulbous ego, are only trying to be clever by half.

“The facts of the matter do not support their illogic. For our diversities and heterogeneous configurations, with several nation-states within the nation, the zoning principle has to be deliberately applied to create the required political stability.

“Anything short of the application of this doctrine will be unconstitutional, and a clear abuse of the principle of Federal Character, which is enshrined in the 1999 constitution.

“Rather than continue to dwell on the impropriety of turning logic on its head by the political ambition of our brothers from the North, it will make for good judgment for them to bury their ambition and support the Southern zone to produce credible candidates for the 2023 general election.”

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