The ruling APC showed so much disdain to zoning of offices; a principle that helped the PDP to successfully navigate the murky waters of Nigerian politics and it backfired. EMMA ALOZIE looks at how that mistake of not zoning offices in a complex country like Nigeria may derail APC’s lofty aspirations
The ruling All Progressives Congress has encountered many teething problems and has on each occasion come out of them perhaps stronger. From inception, the party has taken it one step at a time and has gone through all its headaches without much hassles.
From choosing its national chairman to electing its presidential candidate then to selecting its vice presidential candidate, the party has always shown the capacity to overcome adversities. This perhaps lured the party into a false sense of supremacy over tackling many more troubles, without considering the fact that different problems need different solutions.
However, like many pundits had predicted even before the National Assembly leadership crisis, the party is going through a strain that if adequate care is not taken, the party may come out of this more divided than it had envisaged.
Even ranking members of the party are unanimous in agreement that one of the greatest mistakes of the party going into the National Assembly leadership was neglecting the sanctity of the principle of zoning and this backfired.
The party prior to the election in the National Assembly had attempted to zone the principal offices but that attempt hit a brick wall with a lot of dissentions. The party had then tried to zone the senate president to the North Central and the speakership to the South West.
This elicited mixed reactions and many disagreements and the party rescinded after so much pressure from both outside and inside the party hierarchy.
Even the former interim national chairman of the party, Bisi Akande came out to disown zoning arguing that; “Zoning is very, very strange to the APC. There is no zoning in our constitution. We don’t want to copy the PDP in whatever we are doing. We have the best of brains and culture among our leadership. We want the best for Nigeria. Because of this, we don’t want to entertain zoning. It is true that sometime after the general election, the national chairman wanted to toy with the idea of zoning and unanimously we said no, we don’t want to zone.”
Bola Tinubu, the party’s national leader shared the same sentiments saying the party would not compromise merit on the altar of zoning. “The nation is expecting us to take a decisive leadership decision and make one meritoriously. Merit will not be compromised. You have to be competent, you have to possess the kind of character and attributes of a leader. We have to be pan-Nigerian and be a very solid character to lead the national assembly and that is what we are talking about.
“Let everybody aspire, just like we aspired, your cynicism, no matter what, so you predicted during our presidential primaries that we are going run into chaotic storm. We put those people to shame and we came out with the best. Expect the best from us always,” he boasted.
And everybody aspired and the party is now worse for that aspiration. The inability of the party to sort out the zoning headache left it at the mercy of political will power and might and this has hurt the party’s interest to a great measure.
Former governor of Kano State and a chieftain of the party, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso blamed the current woes in the party on the inability of the party to zone those offices in contention. According to him, the party leadership allowed so much time to elapse and never reckoned with the G-5 governors.
“On the issue of what went wrong with our party with regard to the crisis during the election of the National Assembly leadership, I think so many things went wrong prominent of which has to do with time. The election was something that has relationship with time and we know very well that we had so many weeks to prepare ourselves for the elections in the legislative chambers.
“I wished time was really taken to ensure that we had a successful election. Although this is not the time to begin to trade blames, many of us had drawn the attention of our leaders to do the right thing at the right time. Sometimes, you might decide to do the right thing at the wrong time that will certainly back- fire.
“The leaders of APC may have underrated the members of the G-5 governors and their potential to do good or to do bad depending on the circumstances. What complicated the whole matter is that the situation now is that more than 50 percent of Bukola is in PDP. If you take the position of the senate president it becomes more difficult. The implication is that very soon the leadership of the senate will start Tambuwalising the party and of course the government as we have seen in 2011,” he stated.
He is not the only one blaming the party’s woes on the inability of the party to sort out the issue of zoning before going into the contest. Timi Frank, the party’s deputy national publicity secretary was harsher in calling for the resignation of the entire National Working Committee of the party arguing that they stalled in getting the positions in contention zoned at the right time.
“The party’s national chairman caused it because times out of numbers some of leaders told him to come up with a zoning formula from the beginning. He was asked to take a decision and let people follow that but he didn’t do that. They were playing hide and seek with the issue until the last minute when they saw the danger, and they wanted to play hanky-panky, which led us to lose one position at the Senate.
“If my party could not keep to the promise of change, then we must correct them to keep to that. I have no fear or favour than to say that the current leadership of the party has practically failed. With this incident alone, the chairman should resign from his position after taking a position against the people and the people’s position has finally come to stay. In the Western world, by today the party’s national chairman would have resigned honourably. Not just the national chairman but the entire leadership that took this decision of conducting mock election against the outcry of the larger members of the party. Against the bigger picture of Nigerians. A hand-full of the party leadership came to take a decision, and by today the people have shown that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
“You could see the way the party including the national chairman was speaking before the NASS leadership elections; it showed clearly that the chairman had totally taken sides which wasn’t meant to be. I understand he took some of those decisions based on pressure. In this century, APC as a party does not need a chairman that will be under pressure,” Mr Frank said.
The question on the lips of many APC supporters is will this deliberate zoning gaffe come to hurt the party in the near future? Only time will tell.