By Tunde Thomas
Any attempt by either the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to jettison rotation of their presidential tickets to the South in 2023 would endanger Nigeria’s unity and the current democratic system. This was the opinion of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) and the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere. Reacting to dumping of zoning by the two major parties, General Secretary, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide said it was a dangerous development capable of jeopardizing the nation’s democracy.
According to him: “It is not a fair thing to do now. Dumping zoning will put Nigeria’s democracy in danger. Nigerians have yet to develop confidence in the democratic ideals, so our leadership, and the two political parties must realize our ethnic diversity ,that we are different people who have come to live together, and because of that we must adopt zoning to build the confidence of people in the Nigerian structure. It is too early in the day to jettison zoning because doing so will endanger our democracy. We must give every part of the country a sense of belonging, and both PDP, and APC must recognize this fact. PDP and APC must accept the reality of the Nigerian situation. No part of the country should have a feeling of being excluded or being marginalized.”
Speaking further on why it is not ideal for the two major political parties to dump zoning now, Olajide said: “Zoning promotes inclusiveness, and the moment that it is dumped some sections or part of the country will feel alienated. Some people may even harbour the feelings that a particular part want to dominate the others, and this is not good for our democracy. Nigerians’ confidence in democracy will be seriously eroded if we dump zoning. Dumping zoning will lead to marginalisation of some set of people, and this is not in the nation’s best interests. We need to inspire the confidence of all Nigerians from different parts of the country in the nation’s democracy, and dumping of zoning will negate that. On its part, Afenifere described the move by both PDP and APC as a ploy to ensure that the North retain power in 2023.
According to the group’s spokeman, Comrade Jare Ajayi, both parties dumped zoning as a way of ensuring that the person who takes over power from President Buhari in 2023 is another Northerner. He however warned that such a move is dangerous for the unity of the country.
He said: “Dumping zoning is not good for the country as it is capable of alienating other sections of the country and deepen the mistrust that became more apparent under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Ajayi further added that what was about to be made practical now by the two political parties has been in the offing for some time. He cited, as an example, a view that was reportedly openly expressed by the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed as far back as September 20, 2021 in which he not only bragged that a Northerner will succeed Buhari as President, but went further to ask anyone that does not want a Northerner as President to leave the country in 2023.
Blaming Southern politicians for continuing to play into the hands of those who do not want the best for Nigeria, Ajayi said: “While we may be telling the North to stop the seeming emperor mentality that some of them have, Southern politicians also need to grow up and demonstrate that the interest of their people, much more than personal interests, matter to them.”