Dr Goodluck Jonathan, former vice president, became the substantive president of our great country following the demise of President Yar'Adua. This has put Dr. Jonathan on the driving seat to complete the four-year tenure which both of them were voted into. But Jonathan has only about 12 months to do this.
Within the period he has been at the helm of affairs he has set in motion initiatives to attempt solving the most problematic issues we have been facing as a nation. Proponents of zoning arrangement expect him to just finish the 12 months and walk away to his native Bayelsa. But life is not like that and we all know this.
It has become very evident that the probability of Jonathan wanting to run for another term is becoming higher and higher as 2011 approaches. Whether he will just stay for one four year term to complete the Yar'Adua/Jonathan presidency or two terms of Jonathan/Sambo presidency is now really the issue we should be focusing on and I believe time will tell.
Our constitution allows for two terms for any elected president. So naturally, if Yar'Adua was alive and in good health he would have been going for a second term. Nobody would have gone against that as it's usually the case in Nigeria. In fact we would have been drumming up support for this cause. The presidency I understand is one entity and usually speculated to be so by most politicians when it is comfortable and beneficial to them. On that premise, I would have assumed that nobody will bother where Jonathan is from so long as he carries on with the plan set out at the beginning of the initial tenure. This would have also been the case if there were proper campaigns by political parties and the citizens understood the party manifesto they have voted for.
However in Nigeria where you come from is a better measurement tool to occupying positions than how well you can do the job. And in our case because there have been cries about marginalisation of different sections of the country our politicians have resorted to an aesthetic arrangement called zoning to give a picture of work well done and taking everybody along. Very well, there was an arrangement by the PDP to get a president from one part of the country and his deputy from another part. There were also other arrangements for sharing the number three, four, chief justice etc to cover the whole country.
In recent times, so much has been said why all these arrangements were initiated. For instance, we have come to understand the arrangee for the presidency was particularly to get things going and allow for bruised nerves to settle and heal following the undemocratic actions of previous governments. Whether this is true or not is another cup of tea. At the moment, it would appear different people are giving different reasons why such arrangee started at all. We do not know who is telling the truth any longer as it would appear persons involved are now factionalised. But one thing is clear all these people are thinking about their individual benefits.
This is where I get very fascinated when I hear senior citizens who have suggested and have been part of these arrangements speaking about benefits of such arrangees. The simple question to ask these people is who really benefits? It does not matter which section of the country we are talking about. In order words, it is the same group of people be they from the North, South, East or West of the country that are usually involved in these arrangees. And they have been carrying out these arrangees for the past years. It would even appear that fathers have taught their children how to arrange.
Come to think of it; who really benefits from zoning? Is it the ordinary citizens of Nigeria or the elite? It is obvious that the ordinary citizens of the country care for water, food, housing, good roads, good schools, constant electricity and above all that our earned resources should not be carted away to foreign land to build those countries. So will they care who does these things for them? Will they care if the person is from the north, south, east or west? Would we have been complaining if a Hausa man is ruling in the Niger Delta and ensuring that there was water, light, roads and the indigenes are educated? Same question can be asked if an Ibo man is ruling in Kano and ensuring that the indigenes are well educated, roads are tarred, water is available and there is electricity.
We should therefore be spared of the rhetorics of headline news by these elite when their political gains are about to be truncated because of counter arrangements. When we talk of zoning, the only thing that matters is the principle of zoning itself. If we apply the principle, we should not have problems. In order words, at any time posts are shared, they should be equitably distributed. That is entrenched in the constitution as the Federal Character principle.
So does it matter which village or region our president is from? The question is who does the hat fit and can he do the job without fear or favour? The hat is not a bowler hat or a Hausa hat or an Ibo hat or a Yoruba hat or any other type of hat worn in Nigeria. The hat is about leading the most populous country in Black Africa that has appeared to become the most disorganised country. Is Jonathan doing enough to win the confidence and votes of all Nigerians? So far I would think so as most Nigerians whether Northerners or Southerners do not appear to say the contrary. The only people worried about Goodluck continuing for now appear to be those interested in power holding and occupying the seat themselves.
The PDP knows very well that Nigerians are eager for good governance as well as continuity. This is why the PDP should think towards the review of their arrangement such that power returns to the North from at least 2015 to allow Jonathan continue what he has started. This way we can also judge at the end of his tenure what type of leadership and governance he was able to provide.
Finally, whether it is the PDP, AC or any other political party politicians should realise that the issue of zoning is for political convenience and is not sacrosanct and constitutional. It also only serves those who are attracted to power. For what the ordinary Nigerian citizen from Kula to Kaura Namoda cares about is availability of water, light, food, house, good roads and transport, good schools and safety. Whoever can provide these can come from any part of the country