Edo Decides: Akpata and the JEF question

Barr. Olumide Akpata of LP

Edo Decides: Akpata and the JEF question

By Elempe Dele

For the uninitiated, the acronym, JEF, stands for Justice, Equity and Fairness. And this adoptive acronym, JEF, was on the tongue of every Edo State citizens before the gubernatorial primary, and has taken foot-root after the election.

Not to be dissuaded with vapid contestations; those offerings that are not stimulating or challenging, we must all agree that we have three serious candidates for this upcoming gubernatorial election: Dr Asue Ighodalo, Olumide Akpata Esq and Senator Monday Okpebholo.

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Asue and Okpebolo are from Edo Central Senatorial District, the district all and sundry agreed should produce the next governor of Edo State, while Akpata is from Edo South Senatorial District, the district where the outgoing governor comes from.

For Akpata, the moral calculation of Justice, Equity and Fairness, has knocked him out effectively. He is from the same ward, LGA and senatorial district with Governor Godwin Obaseki, and it is alleged they are distant relatives. Edo State is not practicing monarchy where the seat of power is transmuted from one relative to the other. Rather, Edo State is a democratic state where consensus is always reached for zoning of power to allow for inclusiveness of the minority into the body of the state’s politics.

Nothing can be more transgressive – that violation of moral and social boundaries, if a people are excluded from power because they are minority in the comity of tribes or ethnic nationalities. The voter demography by senatorial districts is not balanced in Edo State. While Edo South Senatorial District is always put between 55% to 60%, Edo Central has just about 16% while the rest goes to Edo North Senatorial District.

On this basis of imbalance, prodigious minds from the state has adopted consciously, to adopt the consensus of zoning. And as it were from recent politics, the lot falls on Edo Central Senatorial District this particular time.

The argument from traducers of this gentleman zoning agreement is that it whittles down competence. This claim is not supported by any social construct or statistics. On the contrary, from the results of those who showed interests before the primaries in all the three parties, Edo Central with less voting strength produced the most competent persons across the three major political parties. So the validity of the competence issue has been discounted for lack of scientific and moral rigour.

For me, without trampling on his fundamental right to contest the election, Akpata would not have contested the election, when viewed from a moral lense. The issue of JEF as being announced by everyone, including moral upright persons from Edo South, see no reason for his foray this time knowing fully well that it is not for Edo South to produce the next governor. In all honesty, a vote for Akpata is a vote for immodest political engagement. We must face this fact for prosperity sake. It is from the understanding of zoning an Akoko-Edo man or Owan man can think of vying without fear in 8 years time when the lot will go back to Edo North. Without zoning, these minority people will never feel like being part of the state politically.

Zoning policy is one of the most important topics of discussion and practice during political seasons in Nigeria as a whole. Electoral discussion is hardly complete without the issues of power rotation as it affects zones. In this case, the concentration is how zoning affects the three senatorial districts aforementioned in the Edo State.

Below are some of the reasons why political parties adopt the zoning formula in their political activities:

Chances of Winning Elections: this is politically the primary reason political parties buy into the idea of zoning in their calculations. Without winning elections, the existence of a political party is uncertain, thus, they do everything possible, including zoning political offices to zones they believe will guarantee their winning and retention of power. And in this case, Edo Centrals Senatorial District is the consensus for this. In most cases, the elites come together into an agreement on zoning offices to particular zones if it presents a possible chance of winning the intended election.

Fairness: through zoning, stakeholders make efforts to ensure that every part of the district share in the distribution of power. To most politicians, the best way to benefit from the political system is to be given a chance to head the government at any level. Thus, zoning is used to ensure that political power rotates to every zone of the state to portray fairness.

Peace: If every part of the state has its turn to control power, it is generally believed that there will be no feelings of marginalization, alienation, or discontent. Therefore, the polity will experience relative peace when power is zoned to each district as generally agreed by the majority.

Integration: this involves the use of zoning by major political parties to give individual citizens and component political zones a sense of belonging and coordinate their minds into believing that they are being carried along in the political decision-making.

Justice: political parties use zoning to give each zone what is due for them in the polity. The power-sharing system is well depicted in the zoning formula. Save for zoning, one region would have usurped political power in the state.

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Settlement of Political Agreements: during moves to capture power, politicians enter into some agreements with individuals, groups, and zones with the promise that after the reign power will shift to those zones.

Unity: the zoning principle tends to consolidate the centripetal forces and foster unity and integration. Without zoning, the many components of the Edo State would feel alienated, especially the minorities.

It is therefore unnecessary in my own estimation to cast a wasted vote for Akpata in this election as the zoning consensus does not favour his candidacy this material time. The spirit of Justice, Equity and Fairplay elopes his candidacy for these certain immutable reason.

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