Benue Press

Latest News From Benue and Beyond!

The Fallacy Called Zoning (1/3) – Samuel Gar

Heavyweight Benue state governorship aspirant, Samuel Gar begins a series titled, “The Fallacy of Zoning”. The series is an expository look into some of the practices in the Nigerian politics.

In a full text, he released to Benue Reporters, Samuel Gar has a lot to say. This is one out of 3 parts. The article reads thus…

“Zoning has never been an issue in Nigerian, Benue or Tiv politics. We didn’t need it. And no civilized nation or people want it. It is always imposed by a selfish and self-seeking elite!

It may interest you to know that no zone has ever nominated a Governorship candidate in Benue political history. Check your records.

In 1979, a few elders led by Chief Ugor Iwooh backed Mr Aper Aku against J S Tarka’s candidate, Chief Isaac Shaahu. It wasn’t elders in Zone A that selected Chief Aper Aku. It was the political elite. Aper Aku was also not a product of zoning but of overwhelming competence! This is why the whole of Benue State rallied around him and gave him a resounding victory.

In 1991 Rev Fr Moses Adasu prevailed over Engr Igbetar, the preferred candidate of SDP’s political godfather. Zoning was not an issue. It was all about who can give astute leadership to the State. Rev Fr Moses Adasu was an unmistakable choice.

Remember that both Aper Aku and Rev Fr Adasu were from Zone A. So Zone A produced two Governors in succession, and it wasn’t news. It was normal.

Like Chief Aper Aku, Rev Fr Adasu’s competence alongside his divine credentials gave him victory at the primaries and at the elections, against all odds!

In 1999, the Governorship wasn’t zoned to Zone B or C. It was Chief Barnabas Gemade, the political leader of Benue State at that time that singlehandedly chose Mr George Akume as Governorship candidate of PDP (Why? That’s another day’s commentary). It wasn’t a Tiv or Benue consensus. It wasn’t the people of Zone B or Benue State that chose George Akume. The political elite did.

The Zone A and B dichotomy (which snowballed into virulent political crisis) was the result of the political war of supremacy between Senator Iyorchia Ayu (Zone B) and Chief Barnabas Gemade (Zone B) following the emergence of George Akume as Governor (Zone B). You know the details and what transpired between the duo during the eight years that Governor Akume was in power.

In 2003 Paul Unongu was Benue’s undisputable choice for Governor and he actually won the election but was denied the Office. His tall credentials made way for him. It wasn’t zoning. He was the clear candidate of Benue State. In that election, Wantaregh Paul Unongo from Zone A contested against the incumbent, Governor George Akume from Zone B. What happened to zoning at that time? If Paul Unongo’s victory had been upheld, Zone A would again have occupied the office of Governor a third time and displaced the Zone B incumbent!

In 2007, the Governorship wasn’t zoned to Zone A or C. It was Governor George Akume that endorsed Rt Hon Gabriel Suswam for the Office of Governor and not Sankera people or Zone A or Zone C or Benue State. Prof Daniel Saror (the people’s favourite), went on to win the election (as widely believed) but was denied the seat because of obvious political manipulations!

2011 wasn’t different. In 2015, it was Governor Suswam that picked Hon Terhemen Tarzoor as Governorship candidate for MINDA and for Zone B in PDP. The people had no hand in it. Senator George Akume also singlehandedly picked Dr Samuel Ortom (the current Governor) in APC for MINDA, Zone B and Benue State. The people had nothing to do with it. Barr. Emmanuel Jime was the people’s candidate in that Congress (and the would-be election) but was dispossessed. I can go on and on. The situation is the same for virtually all exalted political offices.

Zoning was introduced into Nigerian politics by the discredited PDP when President Obasanjo reneged on a gentleman’s agreement to do just one term. Remember that the Northern Nigeria Leaders presented General Obasanjo, a Yorubaman, as PDP’s Presidential candidate in order to douse the crisis generated by the annulment of the June 12 Presidential election easily won by Chief MKO Abiola! Thus began a primitive political system that would eventually corrupt and disintegrate Nigeria (wherever PDP held sway)! No other Party has zoning in its Constitution! You can confirm.

FROM THE ABOVE, WHO WILL SAY THAT BENUE STATE HAS BEEN PRACTICING ZONING? Which Benue? The Benue River or the Benue Valley? Certainly not Benue State! When you permanently zone out Idomas, Igedes, Etulos, Nyifons, and other minorities (including Tiv minorities), where is the justice, equity, and fair play? Where is Christian Ethic? Where is natural justice, Godliness, and righteousness? How then will Benue escape GOD’S WRATH?

If I may ask? When did SELECTION of candidates for the people and the IMPOSITION of candidates on the people become zoning? That is a story for the ignorant and the gullible!

In these difficult, terrible and horrible times that Benue is in, anyone talking about Zoning is an enemy of God, and of the State and of the people.

Ask yourself. What has SELECTION and IMPOSITION politics done for us all these years? Has it not virtually destroyed us as a people and our precious State? Has it not disunited, disorganized, balkanized, fractionalized, animalized, and dehumanized us as a people? Has it not stupendously ENRICHED our political leaders and PAUPERIZED our people? Pick any of our political leaders and check what they were and what they had before they took office and check their WEALTH and NET WORTH today. It is mind boggling! Secondly, take the people and see if their life has improved any bit or their future enhanced in any way in the last twenty years of renewed democratic politics. Are we so disoriented as not to know that evil men are playing chess with our lives and destinies and with those of our children and children’s children? Are we so terribly bewitched?

Permit me to rest my case!”