Why do dangerous bigots like Nasir El-Rufai like to conveniently and hypocritically rail against the zoning of political offices? They are actually talking about the presidency, and what they mean is basically that when their “turn” is over, they should be allowed to keep power or at least try to keep it.
One wonders why they did not make that argument in 2014/2015 instead of vehemently insisting that GEJ was a usurper and that it was their turn.The political opportunism and duplicity aside, the argument does not even make sense.
For one, nation-building entails forging inclusion. Zoning, whether formal or informal, is one way of promoting inclusion in the political and governance arenas in a fractured and diverse polity like Nigeria.
Secondly, the insincere contention that zoning is incompatible with or undermines excellence in leadership recruitment is silly and impoverished. Talent and competence abide in every zone, region, and ethnicity in Nigeria, so you’re not compromising on political talent when you do zoning. You can recruit good leaders from any zone if you make the effort and, more importantly, if that is really your objective. Nepotism, not zoning, is responsible for the rot in governance and political leadership.
Zoning is about equity, inclusion, fairness, justice, and nation-building and does not, in and of itself, diminish competence. Nepotism, on the other hand, destroys all of these ideals while promoting mediocrity and incompetence.
This fallacy about the alleged binary opposition between zoning and competent leadership is analogous to the Western rightwing attacks on diversity and inclusion initiatives. What they really mean is that they want to keep their dominant position and are not willing to share institutional spaces with people who are different. Inclusion is a noble, institution-building goal that does not undermine excellence if done properly and in good faith.The problem is not zoning. The problem, rather, is twofold: the stupidity of empowering clueless, easily manipulated leaders, and the oppressively unitary system. This system stifles and imprisons our group destinies, limiting what any president, no matter how skillful, can do, and engendering runaway corruption, rent-seeking, and impunity.