ZONING: / ˈzəʊnɪŋ/ – What Exactly Does it Mean or Matter?

A gerund or present participle, which means the act or process of partitioning a city, town, or region into zones reserved for different purposes (such as residence or business). This was what someone (only God knows who exactly) used to describe a political system of rotating the Presidency slots between the northern and southern parts of Nigeria.

As if it is not bad enough that the term was not accurate, everybody adopted it and it has stuck. Not only that but the country is also stuck with such an idea that now seeks to divide the nation than unite it. It is understandable that the concept was an attempt to achieve a politics of inclusion but the reality is that it has never worked right from when it was introduced. Worse still, a major political party enshrined it into her constitution.

Everywhere on the internet, too numerous to mention, zoning is defined as the practice of allowing areas of land to be used only for a particular purpose. Except for one source, the word means the same and has nothing to do with rotating positions or any opportunity. That only exception is the Oxford Reference of (Dictionary of African Politics). It described zoning as a “political practice in Nigeria under which political parties agree to split their presidential and vice-presidential candidates between the north and south of the country and also to alternate the home area of the president between the north and south of the country”.

That exception is nothing to be proud of. No other country was mentioned and Nigeria has been on this lone range for over forty years. In the past or present generation, this wrong nomenclature and crude practice has not added anything of value to the polity, perhaps except for those who have adopted it as tactics.

As crude and inefficient as this political arrangement has proven, it has been published (shamefully) as a Nigerian only type of political practice. It shows Nigeria has neither matured nor progressed beyond the time this concept was first created since the second republic in the ’70s.

Respectable Nigerians and some politicians who describe themselves as progressives have continued to argue for and seek equality based on the archaic practice. Zoning (in Nigeria) is one of the most embarrassing ideas of the 21st Century that keeps Nigeria backward and immature.

It sounds very bizarre when the media and learned Nigerians still discuss and defend zoning despite its crass crudity. Just as the Oxford Reference has kept a record of this shame as a Nigerian practice, history would never forget that generations of Nigerians have continued to err to the point that some of those errors now define the nation.

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