Party Politics, The Zoning Policy Paradox, And Consolidation of National Unity: An Assessment of the Two Major Political Parties in Nigeria (Published)
The word “Zoning” has dominated the present political struggle in Nigeria. To a reasonable degree, zoning has been omnipresent in the genesis of Nigeria’s politics right from the first Republic and influences the formation of government (both military and civilian), and has been a subject of debate amongst scholars. It is right to reaffirm that the intention of those who brought the idea of the zoning policy into Nigeria’s political space was to ensure fairness in the rotation of key political offices across the country, but the politics and contentions associated with the actual practice of it is something to worry about. This is due to the fact that Nigerian politics over the years have been played on the basis of ethnicity as zoning seems to be an arrangement made to favour a particular set of people, who by reason of numbers acclaimed to be the majority, as against those who are regarded as the minority. In fact, zoning has practically turned out to represent the interest of few elites, who want to perpetually remain in power, and it is also defined by them, against what the masses may consider zoning to be in the sense of justice and fairness. With the 2023 general elections in sight, the issue of zoning is once again central and, as usual, contentious. This paper is an attempt to interrogate the extent to which the zoning of political offices during electoral contests, appointments, and the distribution of amenities will help in sustaining national unity in Nigeria and help in harmonizing and actualizing party interest(s). Scholars have written extensively on the zoning arrangements in Nigeria, some have even gone as far as tracing its origin to the second republic, but one thing which has remained a gab in their efforts is their inability to capture appropriately how zoning can help keep the country together by not just stating or making mention of zoning, but applying it in spirit and in principle. In gathering data for the study, the paper made use of the secondary method of data collection, while the generated data was analyzed using content analysis. Using John Rawl’s Theory of Justice, the paper finds and exposes the marginalization in the undue application of the zoning policy in Nigeria. This is because political actors have always placed their personal and party interests above fairness and justice. In other to ensure political justice, and consolidate National unity in the country, the paper recommends that the interest of the diverse religion, languages, and tribes that make up the country should be considered always so as to overcome the feeling of marginalization and domination of one region over the other which is about to tear the country into pieces.
Keywords: National Unity., Nigeria, marginalization, political justice, political party, zoning policy