By Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis
“I see Lagos personally, as one united constituency, the enormity of the developmental challenges and the share demand on the resources to deliver such services to the people of the state don’t afford us the luxury on cancelling out people on the accident of where they were born or where they come from or the religion they practice.”
Olasupo Shashore S.A.N., Former Attorney General, Lagos State.
December 3rd 2014.
I congratulate the All Progressives’ Congress for allowing the emergence of Desmonds Olusola Elliot as its flag bearer in Surulere State Constituency, following the outcome of the just concluded House of Assembly primary elections. Although there are allegations of imposition of candidates in constituencies where a nephew of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the sons of Lai Mohammed (National Publicity Secretary of the APC) & Henry Dele Ajomale (Lagos State Chairman of the APC) emerged as candidates, I shall not evaluate those situations because there is yet any proof that the process that led to their emergence was manipulated.
Lagos has emerged a melting point for all Nigerians including this writer who have lived in it since 1994. This unique status of Lagos has caused Lagosians to attach very minute importance to the state of origin of persons who hold positions of trust on behalf of larger Lagos. In the recent past, Ustaz Rauf Aregbesola and Alhaji Lai Mohammed occupied sensitive positions in the government of Lagos State. Currently, persons like Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat and Dr. Ben Akabueze still hold sensitive positions of trust in the government of Lagos State. To a large extent, this method of leadership which Lagos is known for have contributed to whatever little progress the state have recorded since 1999.
Away from Lagos State to my Anambra State. Strange as it seems; in this jet age when constituencies are locked in a fierce race to outdo one another in terms of development, most local government areas, federal constituencies and senatorial zones in my state are still discussing the issue of zoning. Lately, I was caused to find out from members of my immediate community the benefits they have derived from this current dispensation. The response I received was as cheering as they were disappointing. On the part of the state government, I was reliably informed that very huge investments have been made and are still being made in road construction and security. I also was informed that the state government hasn’t fared badly in terms of youth and women empowerment.
Below the state government level, I was mildly shocked that beyond the usual “People oriented law making” and “Effective Legislation” creed of every Member of Parliament, Hon. Romanus Ugochukwu Obi who represents me in the Anambra State House of Assembly have failed to make any impact that will not require a microscope to see. The song on everyone’s lips is related to his being a non-performer and not being a naturally vibrant person. I was further shocked when I relied on the goggle search engine for information on my representative and discovered he has never featured on any known newspaper.
When eventually I found some materials wherein he gave an account of his stewardship on a certain Odogwu Blog, I was amused when he outlined the empowerment of 30 fire victims, provision of 2 transformers to each community that make up my local government (I’m aware that several town unions organized fund raising events for rural electrification projects), renovating a central library, building a computer centre, his co-sponsorship of 19 motions and 12 bills as his direct achievements in office since 2011. Even though I consider this a low score by all ramifications, I do not blame the individual under reference because no one can deliver beyond his/her limits. How then these candidates emerge? Like every other less productive candidate in government, through zoning.
The entire concept of zoning is repugnant and mischievous. It irritates me beyond description because I consider it inimical to the development of our politics. This zoning concept have been identified as the main reason why more mediocre abound in Nigeria who hold sensitive positions in government but know not what their job requirements are. Nigeria will definitely not develop if this ridiculous concept is not discarded because it will only shut out persons who are more capable of delivering quality and effective service from the race for political offices that require individuals who are strong willed and can take the art of governance serious.
Zoning is a major contributor to the high costs of governance especially in the legislature where the percentage of turnover is more than 50% every four years. Thus forcing the government to spend huge funds on training and capacity development. Surprisingly, advocates of zoning are aware of terms like “ranking legislator”, “principal officers” alongside the benefits that accrue to these persons yet they would never consider it necessary to project their best material who through consistent participation in parliament can occupy one of these positions.
Zoning makes our process of governance more complicated. I’d cite a classic instance. Nnewi South Local Government Area consists of 4 quarters (small towns) which are made up of smaller villages which are in turn made up of clans. When a ticket is comically zoned to such a Local Government Area, the local government area further zones it to a small town that now struggles within itself to determine which village gets it as settlement. When eventually a village gets it, the clans that make up the village struggles it out amongst themselves before that ticket is eventually given out to the loudest mediocre that clan has. This is not how our political process should be. In advanced democracies, very huge emphasis is placed on competence and capacity to deliver quality governance above every other thing. Why should we be different?
Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis is the South West Zonal Director of Communications, Research & Strategy of the Peoples’ Democratic Party National Youth Frontier. He can be reached via @NonsoEzeani1.