As the race for the 2023 presidency heat up , governor Nasir El-Rufai has kicked against the zoning of the Presidency between the North and South region of Nigeria in a prologue titled ‘Defeating a Determined Incumbent – The Nigerian Experience’, written in contribution to a book by the Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukma.
El-Rufai argued that the competence has to be taken up in place of zoning as Nigeria cannot afford towing same path again. He also described the present method of funding parties as “opaque” and also proposed a new method which will cut off godfathers, while revealing factors that contributed to electoral success of the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 presidential election.
The Kaduna state governor said , “Even with our success in the 2015 elections, there is room for improvement. Barriers to political equality, such as our seemingly entrenched though informal rule for zoning candidacies according to regions of origin, need to be de-emphasised and ultimately abandoned in favour of an emphasis on qualification, competence and character.
“The financing of parties, candidates and campaigns remains opaque.
“Many African countries are marked by savage inequalities, and a handful of individuals have the wherewithal to hold the process hostage.
“We must work towards funding parties via capped and fully disclosed donations and annual dues payable by every registered party member.”
He also called for an improved judicial processes and promotion of the rule of law, El-Rufai listed some conditions neccesary for an opposition to defeat the incumbent as these;
“A unified opposition preferably merged into a single and well-structured political party well ahead of the next election cycle, and with transparent processes and progressive policies.
“A presidential candidate widely seen as credible and reformist to provide a sharp contrast to incumbents usually fattened by years of lazy, incompetent and corrupt rule.
“Honest elections that guarantee that votes count, using a mixture of competent electoral commission leadership and, crucially, deploying technologies for voter verification that drastically reduces electoral fraud.
“Credible elections are enemies of voter apathy. They enhance democratic legitimacy and citizen participation.
“Continuous engagement of the international community, particularly in the leading stable democracies as well as in multilateral institutions, to supply a crucial external fillip to the electoral process.”
President Buhari claimed that he and his party had the support of Nigerians in the foreword of the book. He also insisted that his administration reversed the downward slide the PDP pushed the nation into by squandering its resources.
He said, “There is no doubt that we have the popular support of Nigerians.
“I have seen this myself when I went around the 36 states and the FCT during the campaigns.
“The turnout of people and messages of goodwill across the country were what no individual, party or government could organise or buy.
“They were purely demonstrations of confidence in our administration and its political platform, the All Progressives Congress, the product of the merger.
“The multitude that trooped out to see me and hear me were reassuring that Nigeria, despite its cultural diversities, is united on the imperative of change.
“Our duty as leaders is to ensure that we keep this nation united, build a better future for the citizens and the coming generation.
“I feel that without coming together, we would not have been able to achieve this feat and Nigeria will be the worse for it.
“We remain the only hope of the country in terms of charting a politically stable and economically prosperous future for our people.
“I will, therefore, encourage us to continue leading this country effectively, now that Nigerians have entrusted us with a mandate once again to chart the course for the future of our beloved nation.”
In the same development ,a member of Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun disagreed with El-Rufai on zoning. Though he admitted that competence should be given a better place than zoning, he added that zoning was established during the defunct National Party of Nigeria to ensure no part of the country was alienated.
Oyedokun said, “If we could find a way of strictly implementing zoning in the true spirit of it, i will say i want it. But do we sincerely implement it? If you zone a position to a particular area, people from other areas are not supposed to come out to contest but that is not the case.
“To me, the kind of country we have, being heterogeneous in nature, in term of religious and ethnicity, I think for now, we should adhere strictly to zoning. What he said is right under normal circumstances but as it is now, Nigeria cannot afford to jettison zoning now.”