Powershift and the ‘game of numbers’

Power-shift, zoning, rotation of offices and such other terms are familiar to an average Nigerian as the battle cry of politicians who desire certain offices to be given to them or to their zones, areas or sections of the local government, state or country when it would be inequitable for them to struggle and access such offices on weighted standard or votes.

Since 1978, when the National Party of Nigeria introduced the scheme of zoning of political offices (state, national or party) into Nigeria’s political praxis, it has been accepted as an informal method of distributing and/or concessioning political power among the contending political blocs or ethnic groups in Nigeria especially after the structural and political infrastructure have been skewed in favour of the Far-Northern states of the Northwest, North Central and North East geopolitical zones.

The skewed structural foundation of Nigeria was made by the British colonialists who divided Nigeria into three unequal parts namely; the Northern Region consisting of the present 19 Northern States, the Eastern Region consisting of the present. Southeast and Southsouth states which are nine states while the Western Region consisted of six Southwest states and two Southsouth states altogether being eight states.

The entire southern states are 17 in number. political and social desiderata are shared based on numbers. So, the Northern States, altogether 19 states plus Abuja get advantageous portions over the South. The local government system is also heavily weighted in favour of the North against the South as just the former Kano State, comprising Kano State and Jigawa State altogether has a total of 72 local government areas with Kano State alone having 44 while Jigawa has 28. The entire Southeast states altogether has a total of 95 local government areas as against the 72 councils for just Kano State and Jigawa States.

In the sharing of the political and social desiderata you can imagine where the five Southeast states will be placed on the plate. Of course, we have not even considered the economic dividends such as the national revenue allocation which its inequities was recently exposed by the Rivers State stubborn insistence on collecting VAT instead of the Federal Government corralling same into the feudal tray for distribution on the basis of ‘to each according to its consumptive capacity’.

The structural inequality created by Britain has been at the core of the trouble with Nigeria because the beneficiaries, that’s, those who were blessed with gratuitous and unequal distribution of Nigeria’s structural and political infrastructure insist that it is cast in the Hammurabi legal order which cannot be undone while the losers, being the Southern States of Nigeria have been agitating to undo that inequitable scheme. This problem has convulsed Nigeria and will continue to do so until something snaps and the entire structure may cave in or cave out.

Nobody can predict the consequences of this contention between these contending forces. What makes this political dispute difficult is the fact that every data in Nigeria is unreliable. The population census from 1916 to date has been disputed and the result is that it does not represent reliable demographic data.

The result of this quagmire is that every political infrastructure based on it is rigged in favour of and/or against the contending blocs. One simple political process designed by a strong-headed political scientist in 1990s and deployed to facilitate the clean-up of the electoral process in Nigeria was sabotaged not so much because MKO Abiola won the June 12 Presidential Election but because of the consequential result that would be the abolition of the “game of numbers’ which had been successfully deployed by Governor Macpherson in 1951, 1954 and by Governor Robertson in 1959 against the “undesirables” or those the power-that-be knew would never succeed them.

Very few Nigerians have taken pains to analyse the data collated by the June 12 Presidential Election and judge whether that truly represent the demographic condition of Nigeria outside the false and demonic structural and political infrastructure foisted on Nigeria since 1914 to date. Prof. Omo Omoruyi in his autobiographical entry on that hectic period of Nigeria’s chequered history stated that one of the foremost traditional rulers in the Far-North bemoaned the impending doom which June 12 Presidential Election portended for his constituency and berated the then Head of State for allowing such catastrophe to befall the North and thereby destroy the ‘solid house’ erected by Lord Lugard. He wondered who would rebuild such edifice on the same template again if the election was allowed to stand. The game of numbers is one unconscionable players are strutting the field playing and tackling their opponents.

The seemingly strong are insisting that the rule of the game is cast in iron and thus unbendable while the weak are shouting that the rule does not promote fair play and so the goals should be conceded by the Far-Northern states in the Northwest, Northeast and Northcentral zones of Nigeria that are insisting that the zoning formula designed by the two major parties (the Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress) are neither democratic nor constitutional and so it must be jet-tisoned to allow the President of Nigeria be elected on ‘meritorious’ ground.

The Southern governors, now massed on a united platform have been united in their resolutions that the successor of President Buhari must be somebody from Southern Nigeria as this will promote unity, equity and fairplay. The position of the Southern governors has so angered some Northern hardliners who shot back at them that “heavens will not fall” if their request fails to materialize but from most unlikely quarters, the camp of the ailing Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the self-appointed Leader of the All Progressives Congress represented by Mr Igbokwe who restored that “heavens will certainly fall” if the South is denied the Presidency of Nigeria for the All Progressives Congress at its birth has been reported as having agreed on rotation of the Presidency of Nigeria between the North and South of Nigeria after every eight years of political terms of offices.

Now, the dice is cast as Nigeria dangles between these opposing positions even as the socio-economic troubles keep convulsing the country to very dangerous situation which may predispose the country to a dangerous bend thereby making it to break down irretrievably. It was dangerous politics of 1962 – 1965 that boiled Nigeria over and Nigeria was plunged into political crises that culminated to a Civil War and the aftermaths of the 1960s troubles that we are still suffering till date. Can’t elders come together as they did in 1998/19999 to rescue Nigeria from its dangerous dance on the brink? Allowing these young and not so young men who luxuriate on political brinksmanship to seize the state and determine the fate of Nigeria will be dangerous for they do not seem to know history or even appreciate the beauty of common-sense in the management of the delicate business of nationbuilding.

If they are allowed to continue with their dangerous game of ‘game of numbers’ they may succeed in plunging Nigeria into the Algebraic Gordian knot which they may not be able to untie and the possibility of Nigeria degenerating to irredeemable crisis that would be difficult to manage is a probability. So, let this ‘game of numbers’ be scaled down to an accord with commonsense and reason by knowing that nobody is a slave to the other.

Even assuming the South has been conquered, or their founding fathers (Azikiwe and Awolowo) had been less than politically intelligent in the formation and structuring of Nigeria between 1951 and 1960 to obtain for the South an equitable constitutional, political and economic system or that the politics of January 15 and July 29, 1966 coups and the aftermaths got the South at the wrong corner yet insisting that the advantages obtained thereby cannot be undone or redistributed do not accord with justice and brotherhood. Let’s abandon the game of numbers and allow justice and equity to rule Nigerian politics for peace and tranquility.




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