Are There Honest Men Here..?

The irony of the situation is that this zoning is an issue in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which is one of the about 60 political parties registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); but then, PDP is not just an ordinary party, it is the ruling party with virtual capacity to do or undo the nation both constitutionally and otherwise, by its sheer controlling dominance

ARE THERE HONEST MEN HERE..? by Chief  Chibuzo N. Ziggy Azike Ksc
“The history of Magna Carta is the history not only of a document but also of an argument. The history of the document is a history of repeated re-interpretation. But the history of the argument is a history of a continuous element of political thinking. In this light there is no inherent reason why an assertion of law originally conceived in aristocratic interests should not be applied on a wider scale.” J. C. Holt, Magna Carta 16 (1965). 
The raging controversy in our land today has nothing to do with all the challenges we face as a nation in terms of dilapidated infrastructure, retarded development in all and every aspect of Human Development Indices; it has nothing to with the geometric rampancy of corruption or the shame of our countrymen and women still dying of cholera in 2010. Our development in virtues seem arrested while greed and profligacy is clearly unleashed and unfettered and the epidemic of abuse of office by those in government and corporate power is frightfully garnering an endemic culture. But there is hope. 
The raging news, inspite of its narrowness is all about “Zoning”, the narrow concept of zoning of political offices is the biggest, widest and “most important” issue of the day. Even the tragic bomb blasts which marred our golden jubilee celebration is befuddled in zoning diatribe. 
The irony of the situation is that this zoning is an issue in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which is one of the about 60 political parties registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); but then, PDP is not just an ordinary party, it is the ruling party with virtual capacity to do or undo the nation both constitutionally and otherwise, by its sheer controlling dominance in both the Executive and Legislative arms of Government at all three tiers of Government in the Federation. So in truth when PDP sneezes, the nation catches a cold. That is the truth; but there is hope. 
The proponents of zoning have since produced the minutes of a PDP National caucus meeting where it was decided sometime in 2001 or 2002 that zoning the Presidency should be rotated between the North and the South. The minutes of that meeting has since been elevated to the status of a quasi-sacred document bearing greater authority than even the Magna Carta and as per the proponents maybe only secondary to the Bible and Koran in its sacrosanctity. All the proponents of zoning are today the “greatest men of honour and truth” calling for the upholding of the doctrine of “pacta sunt servanda” meaning “agreement must be kept”
The English newspaper “The Times” in its editorial on 1st August 1956 said “The modern world has suffered many acts, like Hitler’s march into the Rhineland or the Stalinist overthrow of freedom in Czechoslovakia, which were claimed to be assertions of domestic sovereignty. They were in fact, hinges of history. Nasser’s seizure of the Suez Canal Company is another such turning point. Quibbling over whether or not he was ‘legally entitled’ to make the grab will delight the finicky and comfort the faint-hearted, but entirely misses the real issues… There can be no stability and confidence in the world so long as agreements can be scrapped with impunity”. 
Agreements by their nature can be oral or written, they maybe encapsulated in a formal “agreement” or be recorded as a decision reached amongst parties or groups to bind and guide relationships, by their nature all who subscribe to the decision or agreement in person or by proxy or by the custom and practices of the group ought to uphold and defend the “agreement” while its tenure subsists, members who flout the agreement, or decision which at times become elevated to rules, customs, bye-laws or regulations become outlaws and may lose membership or rights and privileges of the group but where they even remain as members, their relationship with the group maybe qualified or circumscribed by reference to their noncompliance with the letters of the groups “agreements” and “decisions”, it is upon these quid-pro-quo that relationships in societies and communities are based. One who flagrantly breaches the groups regulations is usually penalized and may not seek or receive the groups protection when he is denied benefits which ordinarily he would have been entitled to. We would then say that “he who goes to equity should go with clean hands” we also add “he who seeks equity must do equity”. Now what does all these have to do with PDP Zoning? You will soon know. 
Now before we go to that, it is important I mention that where the group condones or acquiesces to flagrant disruptions and contraventions of its norms and regulations, precedents are established, wrong precedents, destructive precedents and this usually portends a death knell to the existence of that group as the chaos which engenders eventually leads to nihilism.
Now, how does a group which by acts of omission or commission has shown scant regard to agreements redeem itself? Let me cede the definition of an agreement to Blacks Law Dictionary which defines an agreement as “1. A mutual understanding between two or more persons about their relative rights and duties regarding past or future performances; a manifestation of mutual assent by two or more persons. 2. The parties actual bargain as found in their language or by implication from other circumstances, including course of dealing or usage of trade or course of performance. An agreement as the courts have said, ‘is nothing more than a manifestation of mutual assent’ by two or more parties legally competent persons to one another. Agreement is in some respect a broader term than contract, or even than bargain or promise”. Samuel Williston, T Treatise on the Law of Contracts $ 2, at 6 (Walter H. E. Jaeger ed., 3d ed. 1957); now am sure that we all understand the entire purport of an agreement as a binding norm for relationship.
As we return to my question, how does a group redeem itself after serially acquiescing and condoning serial breaching of agreements by those who are in leadership who ought to be symbols of compliance? Do you visit their sins upon them? Do you draw the line? Do you start a new enforcement regime? Do you wipe the slate clean and set new rules and draw fresh agreements? Or do you just carry on and allow the rule of the jungle which is “the survival of the fittest” to prevail? Or do you borrow the prescription of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky (1879 – 1940) who said “ Where force is necessary, there it must be applied boldly, decisively and completely. But one must know the limitations of force; one must know when to blend force with a manoeuvre, a blow with an agreement”. So you see in every situation you must return to “jaw jaw” instead of “war war” no matter the strength or superiority of your arsenal.
Back to PDP, a political party formed by those who had the courage to resist the raving rage of a maximum dictator and consummate strongman General Abacha, Abacha was so intolerant of opposition that husbands and wives who dared oppose him talked in hushed tones even in their bedrooms. Abacha coveted total power thus even the “five leprous fingers of one hand” (per Wole Soyinka) otherwise known as political parties in his transition programme wisely adopted him as their presidential candidate. Discretion is the better part of valour so said the sages and
Dr. Olusola Saraki manifested this when he sued a publication/magazine called “National Conscience” for libel. What was the libel? National Conscience had published that the veteran serial presidential aspirant since the days of NPN in the 70s, Dr. Saraki had presidential ambition; to save his skin or indeed his life, Saraki sued the magazine for libel. Every other “big politician” who had presidential stature promptly sought the widest media to denounce any such “infernal” ambition or “abominable craving” for power; they ALL went to the “One Million man march” to endorse Abacha.
It was in this atmosphere of the fear of Abacha being the beginning of wisdom that the G18 and later G34 dared to take the gauntlet and challenge Abacha, this group later transmutted to the PDP, as they say, the rest is history. Today there is PDP, the behemoth and “election winning machine” 
In the beginning i.e. Circa 1998, PDP did not have money, this writer was one of the six founding conveners of PDP in Imo State and also one of about 10 men who toured the nooks and cranny of the nations six geo-political zones to sell the PDP mantra in those days. Amongst those men were Chief Solomon Lar, Alhaji Aminu Wali; Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Chief Don Etiebet; Chief Jim Nwobodo, Professor Jerry Gana, Senator Anietie Okon and my humble self; I dare say that I addressed rallies in the six zones as a representative of Dr. Alex Ekwueme the founding Chairman and leader of the party. Most times our delegation barely managed to get along as we were almost all self sponsored on a shoe string budget, but we got along.
My earlier reference to Imo State is significant as it was in Imo that the perception of PDP as a change vehicle and paradigm game changer was most manifest, as you will see presently. The PDP in Imo State of 1998 was made up mostly of elements who had been “messed up” by the leaders of the political groups in Abachas transition; and filled with a missionary passion and zeal for change, these “elements” coalesced behind Dr. Alex Ekwueme while the core Imo political elites or better still the Imo political establishment of that era made up of Chief Sam Mbakwe, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Arthur Nzeribe, Chief Evan Enwerem, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu, Chief Ifeanyi Araraume and a host of others all of them joined APP; indeed Chief Ifeanyi Araraume was the state chairman of APP.
Interestingly in the Local Government elections which commenced this Republic we “Davids” in PDP beat the “Goliaths” in APP in 1998, but; things unraveled for almost all the founding Davids in Imo PDP as their leaders sold them short and in the subsequent elections almost all the founding leaders of Imo PDP lost out to the joiners from APP, thus in the senatorial elections of 1999, not a single founding PDP member emerged rather the APP stock which joined about two weeks to the primaries “emerged” thus the 3 senators were all APP joiners. And that was the end of innocence in PDP Imo State; this travesty was to be repeated at the National level in the Presidential primaries in Jos.
The last National Executive Committee meeting of the PDP before the presidential primaries of 1999 had laid down ground rules for all the presidential aspirants; pre-qualification standards and conditionalities were clearly set down; no aspirant would be “cleared” to contest the primaries if they did not meet these conditions; amongst these conditions were:
a)       Any aspirant for the presidential ticket of the party must have delivered his ward, local Government, House of Assembly and State governorship to the PDP in the Local Government and Governorship elections which preceded the primaries.
b)       Any aspirant who did not meet this pre-requisite would not contest the primaries.
Of all the eminent aspirants which included Chief Phillip Asiodu; Senator Francis Ellah, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Alabo Graham Douglas, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, General Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Don Etiebet, it was only General Olusegun Obasanjo that did not meet the prequalification criteria to contest the primaries.
There was no other NEC or caucus meeting to vary, quash or amend these prequalification conditionalities before the Jos convention and presidential primaries.
I am proud to say that Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo who at that time was the General Secretary of the PDP was the only significant authority in the party to draw attention to this matter very much true to his character as a man of pedigree and integrity, but his voice was a lonely voice in the wilderness, as the hawks were intent on crowning their candidate king whether or not he measured up to the
minimum pre-condition to contest, all these “gentlemen of honour” who are today screaming zoning! zoning!!, all these men who are shouting PDP Agreement! PDP Agreement!! Promptly and conveniently jettisoned the agreement which prescribed the conditions an aspirant must meet before he could bear the flag of the party as a candidate. 
It behooves me to be blatant for the sake of posterity and to state unequivocally that General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida knew that by the PDP resolution as decided at the National Executive Committee meeting of the party immediately preceding the PDP convention and presidential primaries of 1999, General Olusegun Obasanjo (before he became Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) was not qualified to contest the primaries, yet he sponsored him and railroaded him to the presidency. 
It behooves me to state for the sake of perpetuating integrity that Alhaji Abubakar Atiku as governor-elect and member of PDP NEC was fully cognizant of the PDP NEC Resolution which by its purport forbade General Obasanjo from being a candidate of the party on the grounds of not meeting the conditionalities as set down, supported the candidature of Obasanjo in total contravention of that agreement and further agreed to offer himself as Vice-president on the same ticket with a man who had failed ALL the pre-requisites to contest as a candidate even at the party primaries level.
The legendary Robert Nestor Marley (aka Bob Merley) was quoting the Bible when he sang; “….whosoever diggeth a pit, shall fall in it”
When elders in our land condone evil and other manner of wrong doings, it thoroughly saddens me because I know that one day, the chicken will certainly come home to roost.
Something is either wrong or right, the gray areas certainly do exist in some cases, but we have seen that selfish motives have governed and determined how our elders have traditionally behaved in periods when the highest ideals ought to govern their actions; all the travails our Nation has suffered with very few gains is because our leaders have not allowed the Maiden of Justice to work with her eyes blindfolded.
God forbid that I would now say that because IBB and Atiku had serially abused their trusts and made a caricature of PDP agreements in the past that the tradition must continue; No!!
As a founding convener of PDP I attest that zoning of ALL and every position is a cardinal principle of the party from the Presidency to the Councillorships and from the National Chairmanship to the Ward Chairmen.
The emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President at a time like this is a “force majeure”, the supervening circumstances gives some impetus for the viability of his aspirations as part of the Yar-Adua/Jonathan continuum without derogating from the factual existence of the principle of zoning, Jonathans canvassers should be able to articulate the logic and present a theses without repudiating the principle and existence of the practice of zoning which is an affirmative policy creation to accommodate the diverse and disparate tendencies in our nationalities and polity at the National macro and village micro political and even social arrangements.
I will not be fair to my conscience if I conclude this write up without condemning the locking out of the eminent Igbos who congregated for a meeting in Owerri; in the same breath, I deprecate in the strongest terms the refusal of the commissioner of police in Kaduna State to allow the IBB Campaign to host a rally. Alarm bells are ringing, no; bells are tolling, and the portents are frightening and ominous Mao Tse- Tung said “let a hundred flowers blossom…”
The Federal Government via Ima Niboro has always been quick to denounce these actions which breach our constitution but being perpetrated by law enforcement agencies, I dare say that these denials by Niboro do not assure or reassure our people about the rating of civil liberties in our land. How governments all over the world repudiate the actions of her officers who act ultra vires or whose actions embarrass the government is by sanctioning the officers involved; until a commissioner of police is sacked for allowing officers in his command to act without orders from above, Nigerians will continue to believe that the Government is complicit no matter the denials and disavowals of the P.R agents of governments.
I recall as a child, a very popular jingle on “Biafran Radio” which blared:  “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, Biafrans, be vigilant!!” today I repeat to my compatriots that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, Nigerians be vigilant!!
Chief  Chibuzo N. Ziggy Azike Ksc
13th October 2010.