Why We’re Against Zoning – Ex-Northern Elders Forum Chair

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A former Chairman, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr. Paul Unongo, says he is against the zoning of Nigeria’s presidency.

Unongo noted that zoning as a political practice is highly susceptible to abuse by powerful elements in the polity.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura recently advised against zoning the 2023 presidency, a stance that drew widespread condemnation especially from the Southern part of the country.

Unongo explained that zoning the presidency was tantamount to limiting the chances of Nigerians against their own will, saying it was inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution.

“What I have against zoning is that the most powerful elements within the zoning system pollute it by deciding ab initio who they will give the ticket to, thereby limiting the democratic rights of Nigerians,” the elder statesman told Sunday Punch.

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Unongo added, “If Nigeria grows a bit more in developing our democracy, we should reach a stage where, like it happened in the US, a George Bush and a ‘son of George Bush’ can become president and a third Bush who wants to become president can also emerge.

“That is my dream for Nigeria. But for now, tribal considerations are part of the system. And I am not ashamed of saying ‘tribal’ because I am a Tiv man from Benue State and it does not limit me at all. I also want a Tiv man who is qualified as the president. And there are many criteria to decide qualification. I want to see someone from my tribe become president. But will someone from my tribe become president in 2023? Of course not. I am intelligent enough to know that. None of them has the kind of money that this political practice brought into Nigeria has caused. It has become a monetised political system.

“So, if anyone from my tribe says they want to contest in a presidential election, I will tell them, ‘You must be unserious because you don’t have the kind of money required.’ Let us allow Nigeria to grow and for the best qualified candidate to emerge. That candidate should have a clear knowledge of what is expected of a chief executive officer of a heterogeneous society like Nigeria. This time, let the political parties not limit the chances of Nigerians against their own will.”

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