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Politics of zoning in Nigeria

The People’s Zone Alliance, PZA, has dragged Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the 56 other political parties in the country to court to seek an interpretation over the issue of zoning ahead of the 2011 general elections in Nigeria

Explaining its position at a press briefing in Abuja, yesterday, President of the Alliance, Alhaji Mohammed Bolori, said the concept of zoning adopted by most of the political parties was only meant to serve the selfish interests of some individuals within the parties and did not represent the will of the people.

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He said: “Quite recently, we have noticed with amazement calls for the zoning of elective offices by almost all the political parties across the country. This practice has gone unchallenged for some time and has produced nothing but national ridicule.

“This approach to our governance is primitive, selective as opposed to participatory participation. It is equally disrespectful to people’s right to choose, and detrimental to the growth and development of democracy in our society.”

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He explained that the “warped concept of zoning has become entrenched in the political system that only a judicial surgery could extricate the vestigial remains of hegemonism, divisionism, separatism and fascism,” hence recourse by the group to the courts.

Bolori said through the concept of zoning, credible candidates were denied chances to contest elective offices.

“Zoning, as a political concept, is a fraud on the constitution and against the will of the people.

The whole concept of zoning is unconstitutional as it runs contrary to Sections 131 and 224 of the 1999 Constitution, as well as Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 1990.

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According to him, it is based on “the obvious limitations and infractions on our rights as citizens that we as a people and members of PZA are challenging the practice of zoning in the courts and now request the court to interpret the constitution to all involved, including the 57 political parties, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.”

Prayers of the group

He added that the particular prayer of the group was for “the court to declare such practice unconstitutional and an abridgement of the fundamental rights of citizens.”

The courts, he said, should also compel INEC to exercise its regulatory rights to the extent of sanctioning any political party that adopts the zoning formula or any similar policy by whichever name called, in fielding candidates in any elections henceforth as enshrined in Section 86(2),(3) and (4) of the Electoral Act 2006.

The PZA leader noted that the court action would be the first in a continuum by the group to address some anomalies that manifestly militate against the survival of democracy in the country.

He declared that the group would embark on massive re-orientation of citizens across the country to educate them on their rights with regards to the forthcoming elections in 2011.

“Our situation in Nigeria calls for greater resourcefulness. This is certainly a battle between the will of the people and entrenched interests in the political parties; it is the disenfranchised versus the usurpers,” he added.