By John Kayode
Gbenga Akinmoyo, a legal practitioner, political analyst and the CEO of LeadiFollow Limited, has referred to the zoning formula of the National Assembly recently announced by the All Progressive Congress (APC) as a “Political Masterstroke”. He made the remarks earlier today while answering questions in Akure the Ondo State capital. During the interview, Akinmoyo had this to say about the on-going selection process that will culminate in the election of principal officers into the 10th National Assembly by June 2023:
INTERVIEW: “Since 1999 when the present Republic started, there have been six National Assembly tussles for electing the Principal Officers into the two chambers, namely the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each of these tussles has been different in nature and they serve as reference points for scholars, participants and observers and collectively they provide evidence that the legislative democratic process in Nigeria continues to evolve. Along the way many lessons have been learnt and from those lessons tactics have changed as a result of what has happened on previous occasions.
We must understand that Democracy occurs within a political theatre and that theatre is often characterized with INTRIGUES or what you may call twists and turns, which from time to time must be managed by the participants and who are these participants – the Legislators, members of the executive, party officials & chieftains, stakeholders and the like. We must not forget that the interests of these participants are usually competing between the various political parties and indeed sometimes, even within the same party. The intrigues are further catalyzed by the various political theories which politicians bring to the table in strong support of their varying positions, which usually have undisclosed personal or group interests lingering in the background.
For instance, on Monday you will hear them say there needs to be more effective political party structures with Party Supremacy; after all we are operating within a party system. On Tuesday you will hear them say, that the doctrine of Separation of Powers as propounded by Baron Montesquieu centuries ago – that it is healthy for each of the organs of government, i.e. the legislature, executive and judiciary not to interfere in the duties and functions of one another, even to the extent of their selection. By Wednesday, the politicians will be clamouring for the Federal Character principle to be fully adopted in a diverse country such as Nigeria where it is essential to guarantee Equity, Fairness and Justice in allocation of positions against the vicious contentions of different ethnic and regional groupings; different gender balancing; different religious leanings and other dichotomies. On the fourth day of the week, it will be stated that the leadership of the NASS according to the House Rules is the exclusive preserve of the members of the House and in that regards, each member is entitled to follow their own conscience and decide what they think is best for the House. They forget for a moment that they are not representing themselves but constituencies, rather they remember that they have recently spent huge sums of money to reach the hallowed chambers and therefore, they see no logical reason why their Political Party or member of their constituency should dictate to them which way to go; this is their time to recoup some expenses. With each passing day we hear more political tales and rhetoric.
It is refreshing that this time around the APC has decided to zone some of the positions that are up for grabs, but they also went a step further to assign whom they consider to be the preferred choice candidate by attaching names to four of the principal officers in the NASS, namely Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative. This rather bold unusual step of course has its merits and demerits depending on your focal lens.
On the one hand, in marketing terms we have a principle of “Test the Waters”, which allows you to put out a sample of your goods in order to gauge the public reaction and strategize further before making your final pronouncement. This technique allows you to assess the popularity of your proposed policy; encourages parties within your fold to express their innermost feelings and makes the opponents come out their shell. As an aside, perhaps if Godwin Emefiele had adopted this technique before full implementation of the recent Cash-Swap policy of the Central Bank, it may not have been the disaster it turned out to be.
On the flip side, such pronouncement on zoning and zooming into a particular candidate can ignite agitations, protests and intrigues such as the ones we are seeing by way of reactions and counter-reactions from aspirants and members of the APC as well as other interested parties in the opposition parties. It is a natural reaction and I would submit that it was reasonably foreseeable and perhaps deliberately intended to provoke the sensibilities of all interested parties.
I end on this note by giving an analogy. Is there any football coach who discloses his strategies, tactics, formation or his starting line-up to the opposition ahead of the Grand Finale of the World Cup? In fact, the Team Sheets for the match are submitted 60 minutes before kick-off, no sooner.
So in my conclusion, given the political sagacity of the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who was allegedly part of the zoning decision and given the wealth of experience in the APC National Working Committee and leadership, with seasoned politicians who have previously been members of the National Assembly, I suggest we take the mock zoning dummy with a pinch of salt and brace ourselves for the real tactical game yet to unfold. This zoning formula is a political masterstroke and if care is not taken, a booby-trap for the politically faint-hearted.”
Gbenga Akinmoyo,is a legal practitioner, political analyst and the CEO of LeadiFollow Limited.