Place of Zoning and Godfatherism in Nigeria Politics

While some citizens of Nigeria have always lived with the thought that the presidential seat of the country is rationalized amongst the major regions, the south, north, west and east, the president’s nephew Mamman Daura made a statement that seems to be divergent to this belief.

In an interview he had on BBC Hausa, Daura said zoning has been in the country for three times already and so should no longer be considered as a factor in vying for presidency. According to him, zoning has been conducted once, twice and thrice already and so for 2023 competency not zoning should be considered for whoever would take up the presidential seat.

According to him, “this turn by turn, it was done once, it was done twice and it was done thrice. It is better for this country to be one… it should be for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere”

This statement did not go well with leaders of groups of other regions, Ohanaeze Ndiigbo, Afenifere, South South Elders Forum, and Middle Belt Forum as they immediately sent out responses to Daura’s statement across media platforms.

In its statement, Ohaneze Ndiigbo said, “He should have said this before the 2019 elections. They ganged up to push President Jonathan aside because they believed it was the turn of the North to produce the President”.

“Having benefited enormously from his nephew being the President, he now wants it jettisoned because it is the turn of the South”. Adding that if the nation was to consider competency President Buhari and the service chiefs have in no way shown to be competent by the way the nation is running.

Afenifere said Daura should have made the call for abandonment of zoning in 2015 when Buhari became president while middle belt leaders asserted that he had only exposed the plot of northerners for 2023. The South South leaders opined that Buhari became president because of zoning.

In all, the other regional forums stood against the statement and cautioned Daura against making such a darning statement but rather he should be an advocate for equity and fairness.

Speaking on the issue in the Liberating Nigeria online show, Debo Onifade, author of the book Liberating Nigeria: a guide to winning elections and reviving our country, stated that the statement Daura made was uncalled for at a time like this when all heads are turned to the South for presidency.

He said as an advocate for zoning that he is, there is nothing wrong with zoning as competent people can be found in whichever region is next to provide someone for the presidential seat.

However, he said this was a call to leaders in the south to ensure that come 2023 people come out in mass to vote. He noted that Daura made the statement on a Hausa media platform and he was directly talking to his people to make them understand that they have the numbers to win elections knowing that democracy is a game of numbers. Therefore, if the South does not want to lose the presidential seat come 2023, all hands should be on deck from now to begin to educate, enlighten and gather voters like he is currently doing with Liberating Nigeria from all states in the South.

Godfatherism another menace that has plagued the Nigerian political system has been making headlines in the country regarding Edo state and its incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki who fell out with his supposed godfather, Adams Oshiomole, over the forthcoming governorshp election.

Obaseki who had enjoyed support of Oshiomole while campaigning for governorship in Edo State began to have issues with him when he no longer involved him in his administration, this didn’t go well with the godfather who withdrew his support for Obaseki in his second term bid.

Following this, Obaseki was indicted with claims that he doesn’t possess a qualifying certificate for governorship and so cannot contest for the election under the ruling party APC; he however sought solace in the opposition party PDP, where he won the ticket and emerged the governorship candidate.

In Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is believed o b the godfather of every governorship candidate who emerges under the umbrella of the ruling party, this cannot be over emphasized with the influence he had in the winning of the governorship seat by Akinwunmi Ambode who subsequently also fell out with this godfather and ended up losing the his bid for second term.

Although, there are calls that godfatherism be scrapped and politicians be given the chance to contest and win elections independently, Onifade thinks otherwise. Still on the show, he said election cannot be won independently especially for a young politician who is new to the political system.

He said every politician who wants to win a political seat needs the support of another politician whom he considers an elderly in the game to help him canvass for votes using his influence and authority, only then can he win. He added that winning an election without support from a godfather can be a huge task and would require so much work which upcoming or new-breed politicians like he called them in his book are not ready to do.

He said Governor of Kaduna state; Nasir Elrufai’s claim in a meeting in Lagos that he beat the godfathers in Kaduna state to win the governorship election in the state was not true. He said he had the support of the president, albeit, subtle and Buhari did not ask him anything in return for the support he gave him that helped him emerge governor.

However, he doesn’t support godfathers who want to overtake the running of governance from the person whom they have rendered assistance.

Meanwhile, to avoid cases of politicians falling out with their godfathers, Onifade is of the opinion that these politicians should learn to e gentle as a dove and wise as a tortoise. He said one does not out rightly shove his godfather aside when he gets to power but can still be in charge while sagaciously meeting the needs of his godfather.


By Deborah Yusuf

August 9, 2020

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