Kwara and 2023 Zoning Agitations
By: Atolagbe Ayansola
I begin by expressing my gratitude and appreciation to all divides in their quest to air their view and opinion about where power should rotate in Kwara-State in 2023. So far the debate has boosted the morale of those concerned and generated the necessary political consciousness. It has been a very robust conversation, I must say.
However, zoning of governorship to a particular senatorial district in 2023 might not be the solution to the myriad of problems and challenges staring us in the face in Kwara-State. In fact, I believe that competence, rather than zoning, is the panacea to our problems.
It is a common phenomenon that our interest has always been who is elected at any election. We’ve always been concern, and rightly so, with the person who will sit on the driving seat of leadership of our dear State. And election, being an instrument of leadership recruitment, has proven to be the mechanism by which the elites distribute power among themselves.
Of course, as customary with us ahead of every major election, there have been cries and hues from Kwara-North clamouring for the zoning of the governorship seat to that district in 2023, if possible without any contestation from any other zone, especially Kwara Central. However, for many of us, especially judging by the intractable challenges confronting governments across the world, the political journey in Kwara-State come 2023 has nothing to do with zoning but competency. With dwindling revenue and the need for a resourceful leadership, Kwara State can scarcely afford any parochial or sentimental argument to drive our political recruitment at this time. This is why it is gratifying that the recent findings in our State revealed that majority of Kwarans have been asking for competent candidates across board, not just for the governorship. The toga of a laid-back people who are burdened with ambitious leadership devoid of required competence is no more with us. Indeed, this is the age of instant information and disinformation, and fact are now so sacred that it is almost impossible to pull wool over anyone’s face using ethnic bias or regional persuasion.
It is instructive to note the moves by some groups and individuals within our party, (PDP), who are agitating for the governorship ticket to be zoned to Kwara-North Senatorial district come 2023. While no one is against such a pro-Kwara North campaign, it would be counterproductive for any politician from that part of the State to hinge his or her clamour for the governorship squarely on the basis of ‘It’s our turn.’ The era of ‘turn by turn’ should be over in our State, and this is why quite an impressive number of people within the party are advancing the argument that what we battle with in Kwara at the moment is far beyond zoning. We need a competent hand wherever that person may come from. I personally belong in the latter group, the proponent of competence as against zoning.
I would like to propose that Kwara State should throw its net wide open to get the very best to run our State. I’ll recommend that all the three senatorial districts in the State ( North, South and Central) should come up with a list of three (3) candidates each for assessment. The very best among the lot should be supported by everyone who wishes well for our State. We can always return to our style of rotating the governorship seat, something that has bred mediocrity and kept our State backward, when Nigeria’s economy improved significantly and anyone with capacity to travel to Abuja to collect allocation can then be ‘anointed’ governor. But for now, with need individuals with required competence and creativity to pilot the affairs of our State. The challenges of leadership nowadays are such that not just anyone would do well when saddled with political power.
Aside the agitation for Kwara North to produce the governor in 2023, there is equally the assumption that any candidate that is not from Kwara-North may not have the support of Kwara-Northerners and their leaders. But the question is, can anybody win an election from any zone without the support of the other zones. It is to be noted that Kwara-North is numerically disadvantaged, and it’s a time tested theory that you cannot put something on nothing. How then would Kwara North win if they personalise their agitation the way they have been doing and make it into a “we” versus “them” competition.
Though, a group to which I am proud to belong within the PDP fold (the Kwara-State elders consultative forum) has been a megaphone for Kwara-North 2023 agenda based on the ‘justice and fair play’ argument. But to me, justice is not a one way traffic and justice itself is a nebulous concept and, like a prostitute, it has been abused in many ways. However, when the chips are down, everybody would know where to belong. Afterall, Apostle Paul was recorded to have written more than any other Apostle in the Bible, even when he did not know Jesus personally.
To my brothers and sisters in Kwara-North, I will like to reiterate that ‘power is not served ala carte.’ You work for it by building political consensus and bridges. You cannot give what you don’t have. I repeat, zoning breeds mediocrity and incompetence.
Ayansola, a lawyer and elder stateman, is a member of PDP in Kwara State.