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2023: Why Zoning Will Not Give Nigeria Desired Results, Lawmaker Explains

todayMarch 1, 2022 1

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Juliet Akoje in Abuja

A member of the House of Representatives representing Yewa South/Ipokia federal constituency of Ogun State, Hon Kolawole Lawal, has called for the shelving of zoning ahead of the 2023 general election, stressing that the issue of zoning will not give Nigeria the desired results as a country.

Lawal stated this while speaking during the February edition of the monthly programme organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abuja chapter, with the theme: ‘2023 and the zoning question’.

He explained that the issue of zoning is not a constitutional matter, and that Nigerians across the political divide have not been sincere with it so far, adding that if Nigerians had been sincere with it, there is a particular reference in the constitution that would have clearly taken care of it.

Adding that since Nigerians are not sincere with the issue of zoning, and that it is not well backed by law, it cannot be proudly fought for.

He stated that: “What I have always said on zoning is that we have zoning at the convention, it’s like it is almost becoming a tradition. But it is not a constitutional matter either in the 1999 Constitution amended or the active constitution.

“If there is sincerity in the issue of zoning, nobody would come out today from the northern part of Nigeria to say they want to contest the 2023 presidential election. Even the People Democratic Party (PDP) that started it, I am not sure it is in their constitution. If it is required in their constitution, at present, Atiku Abubakar would not want to contest. In fact, yesterday he was in Ogun State, where he said he was going to come out soon.

“That is why I said there is no sincerity with the issue of zoning, and it is not on a solid foundation, and therefore not sacrosanct, even by those who claim to be practicing it.

“For instance, if you ask any PDP members today, he or she will say: ‘There is no issue of zoning, we want somebody that is competent, which is true, a competent person that can take Nigeria out of the woods, not zoning. That is why I said there is zoning but it is not documented, it is not something that can be proudly fought for.

“I have said it clearly that there is a particular reference in the constitution that clearly took care of zoning. That is the federal character principle, and that is why it is established in the constitution in Section 153(1C). Also for equitability and fair distribution of resources, we have Section 14(3), Section 147(3), and Section 171(5), which should have taken care of issues surrounding equitable and fair distribution of resources and political appointments.”

Lawal further stressed that on the issue of power shift, the Southeast ordinarily should have the privilege of producing the president of Nigeria in 2023.

“As a person who believes in equity and fairness, I support zoning, and then, if you want to look at its merit, as a Yoruba man from the Southwest, if power shifts to the South, I will okay it. However, zoning itself is not what can be done right.

“The presidency should have gone to Southeast, because the Southwest has tested power twice. Because I will say MKO Abiola won the 1993 election. Abiola won election and it was annulled, and that is why we had Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. I should have said it is the turn of the Southeast but as a Yoruba man, I will say it should return to the Southwest,” the lawmaker said.

Reacting to the issue of constituency projects, the lawmaker said: “There is nothing like constituency allowance. Constituency projects monies do not get into the pockets of a legislators or members. Constituency project money is not given to the member.

“Based on what you discuss with your stakeholders in your constituency, at the beginning of the year before the budget cycle, you will list out what you want the government to do in your constituency as constituency projects. It is called Zonal Intervention Project (ZIP).”

On the issue of constitution review, he said: “It has a timeline. It has a roadmap. It has a way it is designed to happen. I am sure it will happen. If we have our voting tomorrow, and it gets to the state Houses of Assembly, I am sure it will beat deadline for it to come back to be useful for the elections. I think it will be useful for the 2023 electoral process.”

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