By Richardson Ogwezzy
Zoning arrangement by political parties for the purpose of equity, justice and fairness among political players, now dubbed gentleman agreement by Delta political lexicographers, is no doubt an appreciable, commendable and a get-at-able political mathematical method to adopt in a democratic system. Among other nerve soothing benefits, zoning arrangement reduces and exterminates the endemic stress candidates experience in going through the entirety of the visibly complex electioneering processes of an unregulated election where any aspirant from any quarters or zone is thrown into the political ring to test his/her acceptability. It (zoning arrangement) has the additional advantage of obliterating the potentially dangerous spending spree that would have ordinarily occurred if the whole of the zones and constituencies within the concerned political space were to be involved in the contest. The zoning approach therefore addresses the long term multiplier effects of such apparent waste of resources on the economy of the political enclaves involved in the whole event. Above all, it also ensures even distribution of political offices to all the political space. Although in Nigeria, political parties tend to operate political zoning arrangement but experience has shown that to a very large extent, there are usually no written agreement (document) to fall back on in the event of misapprehension and misconstruction. This singular reason of deliberate falsehood exemplified in the emotional and interested interpretations of the assumed convenient method has made it problematic and extremely difficult to grasp, both conceptually and practically.
In Delta State, the issue of where the next governor will come from has resonated and continues to resonate so much interest and agitations among the members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This agitation for clarity on the constant question of zoning came no sooner than the governor of Delta State, His Excellency Sen.(Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa was re-elected. Presently, due to politicians’ curiosity on which zone to produce the next governor, there have been mixed reactions by many Deltans partly on the ground that the zoning hullabaloo began so prematurely. Again, as adumbrated above, there was no clear cut explanation of what the PDP calls zoning arrangement. Similar terminologies like shift and rotation have also found their way into the passionate interpretations of zoning. These concepts are not disinterested concepts; they are becoming increasingly value-laden. For quite a number of party members, taking into cognisance the political wave in the country, especially the manner of defections from the party to the APC, the questions on zoning should be secondary to the goal of building and rebuilding the PDP to make it very formidable and become the party to beat on all fronts in the coming elections in 2023.
To many other Deltans, the zoning questions should be rhetoric; they should not be dignified with answers for now. A governor that contested primaries with aspirants across the three senatorial districts of the State was asked to specify which senatorial district should produce the next governor, without remembering that his success at the primaries was a pyrrhic one. The same governor who would have been denied governorship ticket in 2015 at this critical stage of his administration is now being stoke with the fire of zoning arrangement. The way in which the issue of zoning arrangement recently became a superstructural issue is amazing as it is disturbing.
The vivaciousness with which the zoning arrangement is presently pursued is capable of causing this administration a lot of distractions. The distractions can be politically disastrous for the governor in future because finishing strong will certainly be profitable to him in his future political endeavours. Deltans would always remember that Senator Okowa’s political success stories have been attributable to his dexterity on good governance. In other words, jeopardising his present position is tantamount to creating an imaginary obstacle in his political future.
The governor should be accorded the respect he deserves. Right from the outset, the governor has glaringly expressed his dissatisfaction times without number how within his first three months of his second tenure, the governorship race embedded in the oddity of zoning arrangement began. It does appear that in politics many things are allowed, if not tradition and morals can fault such destructive intentions. In spite of all the negativities that can be unwrapped from the ill- timed declaration of interest, there is this brazen display of nonchalance manifest in portraying such acts as normal and permissable. This overt support for the quest for power even by those appointees in government enlivened them to dissipate energy in their knack for power on daily basis rather than concentrating on governance.
Ordinarily, we know power is transient but everyone in authority must be accorded the due respect and honour for they are ordained by whatever providence to superintend over our Affairs. This is why many Deltans are worried about the manner in which the zoning formula has become the utmost importance of some politicians rather than focusing on what they are voted in for. Can this be the handiwork of politicians in rival political parties, political marauders/jobbers or politicians that exercise great curiosity to get political offices without thinking of the aftermath or interest of the people? Considering the present wave in the politics of Nigeria, I think it is high time Delta PDP remained focused, form synergy, strategise, devote time to getting more converts like their major opponent party. Finally, they should think of bringing more purposeful representation, dividends of democracy, more laudable development projects and the expected good governance to the people; these are traits and elements which the governor is known for. This piece of advice is necessitated by the fact that politics in Nigeria is no longer business as usual. Electorates tend towards where their interests are protected and guaranteed.
It is therefore imperative at this juncture to remain focused and supportive of Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration as we pray fervently for a God sent leader that will continue from Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s successes.
Richardson Ogwezzy is a teacher at Girls’ Secondary School, Kwale.