The member representing Yewa South/Ipokia Federal Constituency of Ogun State, Hon Kolawole Lawal has advised the issue of zoning be shelved ahead of the 2023 General Elections, stressing that the issue will not give Nigeria the desired results as a country.
Hon Lawal gave the advice on Monday while speaking during the ‘Correspondents’ Roundtable’ organized by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Council, with the theme: “2023 and the zoning question”.
Lawal argued that the issue of zoning is not a constitutional matter and that Nigerians across political divide have not been sincere with it so far, adding that if Nigerians had been sincere with it, there is a particular reference in the Constitution that would have clearly taken care of it.
He further stressed that since Nigerians are not sincere with the issue of zoning and that it is not well backed by law, it cannot be proudly fought for.
He said: “What I have always said on zoning is that we have zoning at the convention, its like it is almost becoming a tradition. But it is not a constitutional matter; either in the 1999 constitution amended or the active constitution.
“If there is sincerity in the issue of zoning, nobody would come out today from the Northern part of Nigeria to say they want to contest the 2023 presidential election of Nigeria. Even the PDP that started it, I am not sure it is in their constitution. If it is required in their constitution, like today now, Atiku will not be waiting to contest. In fact, yesterday he was in Ogun State, where he said he was going to come out soon.
“That is why I said there is no sincerity with the issue of zoning, and it is not on solid foundation, and therefore, not sacrosanct, even by those who say that they are practicing it.
“For instance, if you ask any PDP person today, they will say: “there is no issue of zoning, we want somebody that is competent, which is true, a competent person that can take Nigeria out of the woods, and there is no issue of zoning. That is why I said, yes, there is zoning but it is not documented, it is not something that can be proudly fought for.
“I have said it clearly that there is a particular reference in the Constitution that clearly took care of zoning. That is federal character principle. That is why it is established in the Constitution in Section 153(1C). Also for equitability and fair distribution of resources, we have Section 14(3), Section 147(3), Section 171(5), those should have taken care of issues surrounding equitable and fair distribution of resources and political appointments.
“But, because we have not implemented the issues around federal character very well, that is why people are still talking about revolution, that is why people are still talking about zoning.
“I have said it severally that in this country, we have enough laws that if well implemented, Nigeria will be better off. We do not need new laws; we can be doing some amendments but we have all the laws that we need. But because of bad or poor implementation, that is why we are having agitation all over the place.
“The Federal Character Commission is established to look at the issues around the fact that everybody must be represented in all that we do. There would not be problems with the issue of zoning if we are we observing the federal character principle.
“Normally, there should be a level playing ground for everybody so that we can have good candidates that can take Nigeria to where we want it to be. Somebody that is strong enough to handle Nigeria the way it should be handled.
“But because of the issue of zoning, I am not saying that when you have zoning you will not have people like that, but when you have a level playing ground, you will have what we can call best. We are not saying zoning will not provide that, but if we have a larger horizon, we should be able to get something better. That is why I have said zoning for me will not give us what we desire as a country”.
Meanwhile, Hon Lawal stressed further that on the issue of power shift, the South East ordinarily should have the privilege of producing the president of Nigeria come 2023.
“As a person who believes in equity and fairness, I support zoning, and then, if you want to look at zoning merit, as a Yoruba man from the South West, if power shifts to the South, I will okay it. However, zoning itself is not what we can say can be done right.
“Presidency should have gone to South East. Why? South West has tasted power twice. Because I will say MKO won election. MKO won election and it was annulled, and that is why we had Obasanjo. I should have said it is the turn of the South East but as a Yoruba man, I will say it should return to the South West.
“However, on merit, it should go to the South East. South West would take it, but because we have had it, I think South East should have been the best. This is my opinion. It is not the opinion of any party. This is not the opinion of the House. South South has had it. South West has had it, but South East has not had it. That is the only area in the South that is yet to have it. If we are looking at it on merit, it should be South East. But I am sure as a Yoruba man, it should go to the South West,” Lawal said.