Zoning of Public Office and Its National Relevance

Zoning as a concept has its pros and cons especially in a multi-composite society like Nigeria. We co-habit in a society but divided in a variety of ways. We need to find a way of not only accommodating all but also making them feel a sense of belonging and stakeholders in the Nigerian project. We need a way of uniting and consolidating our fragile and pseudo nationhood called Nigeria. However, should we go about it in this manner?

Our complexities and composition as a country sets us apart and makes us unique in the comity of nation. We are more or less like the United Nations in the African continent. We should learn to accept that the 1914 adventure has come to stay and seek ways of fostering our national unity in a way that seeks to unite and foster affinity. Although this is the case but we should consciously try to build a nation state among divergence states. The idea of zoning appears to be one of the practical and proactive ways of ensuring the accommodation of both the majority and giving of opportunity to the minority. That we are all stakeholders in this enterprise called Nigeria demands that we should make every part feel part of the whole. Our history has shown that we need to find a formula of accommodating different sections of the country. In principle, zoning is a viable option but our conception and implementation of it is wrong. As a result, the composition and the strength of the various groups in Nigeria are not truly reflected. We are blessed with a viable, trained, skilled labour. In all the sections of the country, we could get people on merit to fill up all the available spaces and positions. If we base our recruitment drive on merit, competence and performance rather than on cronyism, god fatherism and settlement culture, things would change. We fill up positions that needs competent hands with people base on the political interest they represent and not on what they can deliver.

Moreover, the zoning issue in Nigeria seems to benefit a selected few who are in the ruling class, what is at stake is our common patronage being shared by the elites. When the population unknowingly try to support the zoning of a particular office to a zone, the question to ask is what did the South West gain from the 8 years of their rule or what have all the places political offices were zoned to benefit from the idea of Zoning. How many people were exclusively lifted out of poverty because the zoning of political office in their place? How many maternal deaths were saved because of the zoning of political office? How many youths were employed because of zoning? Have the zones that control any major leadership positions had an improved energy supply, higher standard of living and better economic development? In comparative terms what advantage have the zones that have produced people in leadership position have over others. How many people have benefited from zoning?

Because of our history present and past, the issue of zoning is important but we should look at how those that fills such sensitive positions emerge. We are so much blessed in this country that every local government can produce credible, strong and competent leadership that can lift the country from underdevelopment and spiral decline in virtually all the known indices of the basic human existence. We should shy away of blaming only our leaders because the followers also have a share in this blame game.

Our political leaders should bear in mind that they have a larger role to play in driving the transformation and liberation of our country from backwardness. They can do this by making sure they appoint lieutenants, advisers, assistance and foot soldiers who are competent enough to drive their vision and dream of a prosperous society. As an administrator no matter how lofty, your ideas are you cannot achieve much without good and competent lieutenants that will drive the implantation of such goal. They should endeavour to emulate Lee Kuan Yew. They need to constitute a cabinet filled with people of extra-ordinary drive rather than ex-this and ex-that. We continue to hear the same names since the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as if no other groups have emerged in a country of 160 million. We cannot be doing and repeating the same thing that have failed us for a long time and expects a different result. The people in leadership position should be cautious of their image, integrity and honour as individuals and understands that failure on their part is failure by then and not on those that were given certain political positions as compensation. This is because the beneficiaries are always ready to jump ship to any current trend in the political space.

As we celebrate the recent election and are still in the euphoria of victory and argument on the zoning of political offices, our leaders should understand that the task is enormous and requires urgent, proactive and result oriented leadership for service delivery. Other societies are not waiting for us to catch up with them rather they are further innovating slimmer, shorter and more effective and efficient ways of bettering their society. We have a lot to learn from emerging economies especial BRICS countries and others on how they have been able to achieving a quantum leap from underdevelopment and hopelessness to people that the advance and develop societies envy.

To begin to move in the right direction, we should find ways of making proactive movement instead of motion that circles and goes around with no tangible progression. Even as we learn from others, we should also bear in mind that we should adopt measures that are peculiar to our unique and dynamic environment. We have all the things and ingredient we need to liberate our society from the worst form of human existence. Unless we start acting, well even societies that were labelled as failed states are making tangible progress to grabble and defeat their challenges. The time is now. We risk being a laughing stock among nations outside of not only the continent but also even people within the continent.

Zoning should suit our environment by basing the selection, election and nomination of our representative on competence, skills, ability and delivery.

Written by
Paul Ogwu Okwuchukwu
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