Reporter : CHRISTIAN NWANGENE
The debate on the merits and demerits of zoning formula in the nation’s political configuration has continued to generate a lot of debates among political commentators and actors.
A cross section of youth leaders in Enugu State have divergent opinions on the contentious issue.
While some argued that zoning if maintained would stabilize the polity, enthrone equity, and justice, others were of the view that it does not promote merit, competence, growth.
They also argued that zoning ends up throwing up inept characters, and does not promote good governance.
Without doubt, the discussion around zoning formula in Nigeria is beginning dominate the political atmosphere, to the extent, that majority of the political parties in the country are making efforts to entrench in their laws and constitutions zoning formula.
The question on the lips of some these youth leaders in Enugu State is to what extent has the zoning formula, under the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led government in the state, encouraged youth participation in the governance of the State
They queried further how has the issue of zoning address mass unemployment, encouraged industrial revolution and checked insecurity in the State?
The Founder, the New Enugu Project, and Farmer, Mr. Ekene Uzodimma, stated that the clamour for zoning was not the solution to plethora of problems confronting the development of Enugu State.
According to Mr. Uzodimma, young people should start taking responsibility, and show strong commitment towards shaping the political equation in the state.
“We need to begin to take responsibility, we’ve sat on the fence for so long, and you can draw that from what happened during the ENDSARS protest, that’s a sign to show the Nigerian government that the youths are completely fed up with the entire system and we’re already beginning to take up responsibility for our future.
“So, what you’re seeing today is an aftermath of the fact that we’re no longer comfortable with what we are seeing.
“We are trying to build a different narrative that will destrupt the system,” Mr. Uzodimma stated.
Also, a gender activist, Mrs. Nnenna Anozie, noted that the electorate should be interested in individuals that are nationalistic and had the capacity to create job opportunities and solutions to the myriad of problems faced by the people.
“I don’t believe in zoning, look at Enugu for instance, how has this zoning helped us? It is a matter of personal interest.
“Once they said it is our own turn, they will channel all the benefits, all the dividends to the zone,” Mrs. Anozie lamented.
For Mr. Hyginus Emeka, zoning is important because it accommodates the minority.
He, however, observed that in adopting the zoning formula, political parties should consider candidates based on merits, competence and not on sympathy or as compensation.
“The beautiful thing about the zoning all these while is about the seamless atmosphere of calmness, you may call it peace
“But, then you may still have within the people those are so disturbed that this seamless peace may not be peace in reality.
“So if we must sustain that peace, zoning must be maintained. For me, it has to be maintained so that everybody will have sense of belonging.
“So that those who are in the minority will not feel dejected, they will not feel inferior, they will not feel deprived, but the only thing is that, irrespective of the fact that you’re in the minority, you still have the competent people among you.
“So, zoning should be maintained, but if you’re zoning, we have to look out for the young people who are credible, who are competent, who have the capacity, who have the character,” he noted.
The Leader of Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Enugu State, Prince Ozioma Ani, and the Youth Leader, Enugu West Senatorial Zone, Mr. Elvis Obi-Nwankwo, young people should not wait until power is given to them, they should rather work hard towards winning elections.
The Founder, Lead Network, and Youth Entrepreneur, Mr. Chukwuma Ephraim Okenwa, also posits that young people should speak with one voice, emphasing that it has been an opportunity young persons have always missed.
“We are saying different things but we can’t even get ourselves on the same table to find out whether we are actually saying the same thing in different ways.
“Problem has always been, speaking with different languages, and the only way to address that is, when young persons can begin to have real conversations around issues that matter to them, and that has to do with youth participation, not just in politics, but in governance.
“Young persons must be seen playing active role in the polity, and what that means is that, it mustn’t be to struggle at the ballot box,” Mr. Okenwa averred.
Mr. Okenwa, insisted that young persons should be allowed to head critical government offices, rather than appointing them as Senior Personal Assistants (SPAs) and Senior Special Assistants (SSAs).
“Young persons can be appointed beyond, SAs, to actually in things like Ministry of Youth, they should be in charge of the affairs.
I mean if you have somebody that is up to thirty-five years and cannot be able to do something, cannot handle a business, of course, the person must have wasted his youthfulness,” he noted.
According to Mr. Okenwa, the present crop of young people have what it takes to lead.
He however, expressed regret that the system had not given them the opportunity to showcase their potentialities.
“We are saying young persons are underutilized in Nigeria, because young persons world over are known for innovations, they’re are known for vigour, they’re known for strength, they’re known for destructive thinking, and these are all of the things we’ve missed by excluding young persons technically in politics and in policy making,” Mr. Okenwa remark
The respondents agree that the structure of the nation’s political system has not encouraged young people to capture political leadership.