…says zoning unconstitutional
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), yesterday, said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would retain power at the centre beyond 2023 if it delivers on its promises to Nigerians. Fashola, a former Governor of Lagos State, also said that the issue of zoning the presidential ticket of the party being canvassed in many quarters, is unconstitutional and cannot be used as a bargaining chip by any geopolitical zone of the country.
The minister, who expressed these views at a media conference in Abuja, said that performance would be the major factor that would determine if the ruling party would retain power beyond 2023. “To retain power in 2023, certainly if we keep our promises, it is that simple.
That’s politics. If you do what you said you will do even if you don’t do it one 100 per cent and they see that you are making progress, they will even want you to finish some of what you started. Our opposition has to think better than us in order to defeat us. Right now, they are not doing that; when it’s election time, they should come and meet us,” he said.
Fashola said the issue of zoning revolves around agreements between or among people, adding that this is different from the provisions of the Constitution which is the law. He argued that though political parties could reach a gentleman’s agreement on where to situate a political office, such an accord would not be binding because it is not supported by the constitution. “Constitution decides the age which you can contest certain offices and there is nothing in the Constitution that says zoning.
All our political parties are clubs where you write agreements just like a social club. We can decide that it is the youngest person who will be the Chairman of the Club or we can decide that it is the oldest person or the next female or the next male; that is a matter of agreement between people.
“But the Constitution that sets up the climate of political parties’ formation does not prescribe zoning. The truth is that what makes an agreement efficacious is the honour in which it is made; not whether it is written or not. If it was written, there would be no court cases of breach of contract because it’s a document that is written and signed that go to court. But the private agreement you make with your brother and sister can be breached,” he said.
The minister, who also spoke about the crisis in APC, said those elected as national officers should be allowed to do their jobs. According to him, since the National Working Committee (NWC) has been dissolved, the Caretaker Committee should be allowed to carry on with its mandate. Fashola, who claimed that the APC started with a meeting held in his house in Lagos, stated that the party was initiated by 11 persons, including himself.
At that time, he said, many persons didn’t believe that APC would come to be what it had become today.
The first meeting of what became APC, don’t forget, was convened in my official residence in Lagos. Eleven of us, then governors, were at that meeting and some of you were asking what we were doing and I said you just watch.
“Winning the election is not the challenge because after that, there is a bigger responsibility. The challenge of delivering the governance is the big deal and that’s what I am committed to doing.
“We have party officers; some people decided that they wanted to be Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Publicity Secretary, we voted for them. That’s what they chose. If there is a crisis that has now led us to have a Caretaker Commit tee, we must also respect the Caretaker Committee. Let it do its job.
Those of us who didn’t contest to hold party offices, let’s focus on our jobs too and stop bashing into each other’s room. “So, every support that the Caretaker Committee requires, we will provide if it’s within our reach to do so. I am in touch with him (Buni) and, at the end of the day, we are governed by rules. I know quite a number of them on a personal basis.
So let’s support them to achieve the immediate mandate of their responsibility and they have brought some stability, at least we have won an election. One governor has joined us where we think that we could not get water before,” Fashola said.