Dr. Ferdinand Agwu, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has cautioned against the risk of shunning zoning in the country.
This was made known by Agwu when he and other Igbo elite paid a courtesy visit to the PUNCH Place, headquarters of The PUNCH Nigeria Limited, Lagos.
According to him, shunning zoning in the 2023 presidential election signals exclusion of the South-East from governance.
The former Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan said, “Today, it is as if it is the South-East making the most agitation but when we exclude one, you lay the basis to exclude others. Some people today are being excluded yet society has said there should be inclusion.
“When did Dr Kalu Idika introduce Value Added Tax in 1986, it was an instrument to bridge the gap in revenue for the government. But, somebody said, ”No, if you do VAT by indexation – collect and spend where it is collected – some people who don’t have the economic resource would be excluded so they are going to be poorer. Now, we collect VAT in Lagos and spend it in Zamfara even though today we are mining gold in Zamfara and we are not spending it anywhere else.
“We need to take a step back and ask, “How have we handled this issue?” is this just agitation by a region or are there some fundamental issues that are involved?
“If you exclude one person today, tomorrow you may be excluded.”
Agwu further said Nigeria has to develop a mechanism to deal with inclusion as destroying zoning now may put other regions at risk of exclusion in the future.
“What are the mechanisms our nation has developed to deal with inclusion? If we destroy this (zoning), are we not putting others at risk? When we destroy such a fundamental aspect of democracy, a clearly understood principle of inclusion, you invite Nigerians to exclude others. It is beyond a regional agitation. It is beyond a matter of turn-by-turn. What are the fundamental principles that the nation can grow with and be built on? Someone should snap up back to order. It is not just a PDP (Peoples Democratic Party), APC (All Progressives Congress) or politicians matter.
“The reason why, on inception, Nigerians couldn’t participate in the legislative council until the Clifford Constitution of 1922 was because Lord Lugard said it would be unfair for Nigerian natives to participate in the affairs of the state when the north doesn’t have the means to attend.
“What does this mean? Even the colonial masters understood inclusion. At the risk of excluding other Nigerians on affairs concerning them, they just left the idea. So, we have to situate this in the context of a century-old history of culture and tradition of inclusion, being a part of governance,” he added.