Olabode George, a former deputy national chairman of Nigeria’s main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has warned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Northern region that power shift to the Southern region of the country was not negotiable in 2023.
Since the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999, there has been rotation of the position of the President position between the Southern region and the Northern region in Nigeria, the arrangement was practised during the 16 years the PDP ruled the country.
However, based on the arrangement, it is expected that power would shift to the South in 2023 after incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, a Northerner, who assumed office in 2015, and was sworn-in for a second term of four years in May, would have concluded the constitutional two term in office.
But speaking in an interview with journalists, last weekend, George said any attempt to go against the zoning arrangement was not in the interest of the country.
According to him, “Why are people now trying to throw up another problem? If anybody is thinking about that, let them go into history and find out how we came about zoning, it did not just drop from the sky. People reasoned it out by saying ‘how can we have peace? How can we have a sense of belonging and make sure that every Nigerian has a sense of belonging?’ That is why I tagged it Turn by Turn Nig. Ltd.
“Can there be peace when only one tribe monopolises power? That was the route we passed, why should we go through that same route now? What we resolved was that we go into regional cooperation. The states have come to stay. So, rather than scrap it, we can now call it the United States of Nigeria,” George said.
George, who is the leader of the PDP in Lagos State, added that zoning of elective positions was not new in the world, stressing that several countries which had a heterogeneous society had such arrangement.
“Nigeria is not the first country to adopt this concept of zoning. Till tomorrow in Switzerland, that is what they do because in Switzerland you have Italians, French and Germans and they rotate,” he added.
Speaking further, he lamented the current state of the country, while advocating for an urgent restructuring of Nigeria to regional governments as a way out of its current woes.
“It was never the same, it was never like that. So you now created more states and did not call them regions; that is where we lost it. People are now saying let us go back to the regions. We now have 36 states to satisfy the minorities. But this nation is too large to be controlled from one particular spot.
“You garner all the resources from all these other states and then you put them in one big basket and then start to share. It cannot work. We have tried it for so long and it did not work and, no matter what we do, it would not work. Those who were participants in the First Republic sat down and said there was a problem because there is no perfect system,” he further said.