Our political leaders are coming up with political theories and concepts that even the likes of Confucius (551-479BCE), Socrates (470-399BCE), Plato (427-347BCE), Aristotle (384-322BCE), Cicero (106-43BCE), Martin Luther (1483-1546), Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Baron De Montesquieu (1689-1755), Max Weber (1864-1920), Prof. A.V Dicey (1835-1922) et al would envy.
One major political invention in Nigeria is the concept of zoning of political offices significantly between the northern and the southern divisions. The introduction of the theory or concept into the Nigerian political dictionary, as we have learnt from the proponents, was for our collective good. According to the arguments of the proponents, the concept if accepted would promote a sense or feeling of belonging among the multifarious tribes in Nigeria. On the other hand, those who oppose opine that the very theory would promote sectional allegiance rather than national patriotism.
While it is not my intention to side with any of the supporting or opposing groups I will not sit on the fence either. Therefore, before we make a decision whether to oppose or support we must consider the mathematics of zoning of political offices by rotation. The result of that mathematical operation will eventually help us in arriving at an informed decision on the practicality or otherwise of the concept.
Nigeria as currently constituted has two (2) regions (north and south), six (6) geo-political zones, thirty six (36) states and a federal capital territory, seven hundred and seventy four (774) local government areas and nine thousand five hundred and seventy two (9572) wards (it should be noted that the number of wards is always subject to constant change).
For computation purposes, the following assumptions are made. It is assumed that:
1) no additional regions, geo-political zones, states, local governments or wards would be created and that the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) of the Lagos State would not metamorphose into full fledged LGs.
2) no region, geo-political zone, state, local government area or ward would occupy a political or elective office consecutively for more or less than two terms of four years each until all other region, geo-political zones, states, local government areas or wards have taken their turns.
Using a simple model formulated for this purpose, the number of years (what i call the 'Right-Back Period') it will take each of these segments to lay claim again to an office (the right to be voted for) they have previously occupied could be calculated thus:
Right-Back Period (RBP) = ( N - 1 ) x 8years
Where N= number of constituents making up a segment.
Using the formula above the RBPs as calculated are:
Regions (N=2) RBP= 8 years;
Geo-political zones (N=6) RBP= 40 years;
States (N=37, i.e. 36 states plus FCT) RBP= 288 years;
Local government areas (N=774) RBP=6,184 years;
Wards (N=9572) RBP= 76,568 years.
Using our former amiable President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as a case-study, what this zoning of political offices by rotation means is that:
1) anybody from Chief Obasanjo's region (the South) will have to wait for 8 years before he can aspire for office of the President of this country,
2) anybody from the retired General's geo-political zone (the South West) will have to wait for 40 years before any aspiration to the highest office in the land could materialise,
3) anybody from Baba Iyabo's state (Ogun) will have to wait for 288 years before he could even nurse such an ambition,
4) anybody from the Ota farmer's local government area (Abeokuta North) will have to exercise patience for 6184 years,
5) anybody from the Owu Chief's ward (Totoro) will nurse such a hope of becoming the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for a period of 76568 years.
These results as revealing as they are, they are also frightening. I am amazed at the significance of the Presidency of Chief Obasanjo to that region, zone, state, local government or ward that would warrant each of them to pay such a steep price for the Presidency of the General. As a person from the former President's State, this arrangement if implemented, would effectively deny me, my children, my grand children and perhaps my great grand children from ever having any opportunity of leading this country. Ordinarily, it would take 288 years before the Presidency could rotate back to Ogun State. That would be in the year 2295! What could be more absurd than this?
However, the most important thing to acknowledge here is the issue of 'hope'. The fact is that if you take away the right and hope of a people to aspire to the highest political office in the land for hundreds or thousands of years through a centrifugal arrangement, in the name of rotation of political offices, you inadvertently give such people an excuse to develop political apathy. Infact, if they choose not to secede (which I strongly doubt), the question of where their loyalty, allegiance and patriotism would lie will be an easily answered one.
The reason the South-South have not considered the option of secession was the hope they had that one day one of their own would be President of the country. Take away that hope even after the Presidency of Dr Goodluck Jonathan and see if the South-South will be willing to wait for another 40 years or the Ijaws for about 288 years (when their oil would have probably dried up) before having the taste of the Presidency again.
Hence, the concept of zoning of political offices by rotation or by any other means for that matter is an evil that will blow no region/geo-political zone/state/local government/ward any good. Give the people the hope that they will always have the opportunity to lead at any level of government at any time-for this is a right that is protected by the constitution. Zoning will only breed discord, acrimony, hate, animosity, division etc. It also has the tendency to promote sectional loyalty instead of national patriotism.
Besides, what is the point of sacrificing meritocracy on the altar of mediocrity? As a nation in dire need of revival in every sector of its societal life, what we need is a charismatic, focused and pro-active leader and not a never-do-well. As Daniel Bell once wrote "a society that does not have its best men at the head of its leading institutions is in sociological and moral absurdity" I believe the only way we can truly be a GOOD PEOPLE and a GREAT NATION is when we all, irrespective of our ethnic and cultural differences, come together as a PEOPLE and as a NATION to make our dear country an eldorado.
I have a dream just like Martin Luther King (Jr),that one day in this nation, people will be judged not by the colour of the skin but by the content of their character...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
OSOLAKE VICTOR OMOYELE is an indigene of Abeokuta. He attended All Saints Anglican Primary School, Itori in Ogun State where he had his primary education before proceeding to Saint Peter's College, Abeokuta, Ogun State. He graduated from the school as the best graduating student. He thereafter went to the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro to study Accounting and he successfully completed the course and was subsequently awarded a National Diploma in Accountancy (Distinction). He proceeded further for his Higher National Diploma in Accountancy in the same institution. He graduated with a Distinction grade. Osolake has a banking working experience with Intercontinental Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Plc.