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2011: Zoning And The Theory of Reasoned Actions By Bankole Olubamise

August 29, 2010

The buzz word in the political hemisphere of Nigeria in the past few weeks is the word zoning purportedly inserted into the constitution of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and on the basis of which the contestants for the 2011 tickets in the party and their presidential candidature should be determined.

The buzz word in the political hemisphere of Nigeria in the past few weeks is the word zoning purportedly inserted into the constitution of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and on the basis of which the contestants for the 2011 tickets in the party and their presidential candidature should be determined.

The argument is that the Late President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua (RIP) being a northerner, it therefore behoves the party to nominate another northerner to fulfil and complete his term till 2015. This is where my problem with the idea starts. I find good explanation for my views from the Theory of Reasoned Actions (TRA).

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According to the Theory of Reasons Actions (TRA) in the field of human pysychology 9now adapted in many fields including sciences) it is assumed “that individuals are usually quite rational and make systematic use of information available to them. People consider the implications of their actions before they decide to engage or not engage in a given behavior" (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980, p. 5). After reviewing all the studies on human behaviour they developed a theory that could predict and understand behavior and attitudes. Their framework, which has become known as the Theory of Reasoned Action, looks at behavioral intentions rather than attitudes as the main predictors of behaviors.

Zoning is therefore a planned intention of the PDP. However, as with the major fault of the theory, PDP did not envisage a situation where the ticket holder will die in office, with someone else, albeit the deputy sworn in to take his position. The challenge as with the theory, is therefore to revise the zoning arrangement, because all permutations are now off! Zoning would have made sense to prevent a non-northerner contesting with the late President Yar’Ardua, but President Yar’Ardua is now defacto President Goodluck, the same term, but different personalities. The authors of the Theory of Reasoned Action had to revise the theory because “One of the greatest limitations was with people who have little or feel they have little power over their behaviors and attitudes.” They came up with Theory of Planned Behaviour . Ajzen described the aspects of behavior and attitudes as being on a continuum .. from one of little control to one of great control. To balance these observations, Ajzen added a third element to the original theory. This element is the concept of perceived behavioral control. The addition of this element has resulted in the newer theory known as the Theory of Planned Behavior. Zoning in this context must therefore be seen as a continuum.. from Musa Yar’Ardua to Goodluck Jonathan because Jonathan actually has no CONTROL over the fact that he is now the President. It must for all practical purposes be seen as a continuum and NOT a gift to the South-South, no never! All that nonsense that a minority would never have become President is hogwash, where were they when Obama became the most powerful man on earth from the unlikeliest of backgrounds-Kenya in Africa!  What PDP therefore needs to do is amend its own constitution, to insert a caveat, under which zoning operates and terminates and they will need a scenario analyst for that!

My conclusion on this zoning matter is therefore that President Goodluck Jonathan is for all practical, legal and justifiable reasons the embodiment of the zoning arrangement of the PDP, irrespective of the fact that there is a change of personality from the original intendment and therefore he has every right-in fact DOES NOT HAVE ANY OPTION, than to contest 2011 elections. Whether he will win is another matter entirely, only his strategists and his own ability to negotiate his ways in the murky waters of Nigerian politics can carry him over that threshold! Not forgetting the very bad records of the PDP with Nigerians from which he must give us a clear VISION of the future, before he can win!

This takes me to the 2011 general elections as a whole:  INEC has some new persons at the helm, but if the old system will be used, then we are in trouble. It is both about new persons and new systems of conducting elections. I am amazed that INEC is not in favour of electronic voting! Haba, 10 years into the 21st century, a century of technology? Its possible for all Nigerians all over the world to vote in January or April 2011- just set up the system, and ensure its integrity and we will have free and fair elections, simple! I have used technology enough to know that the most complex challenges of life have been conquered by technology and the human will to break new grounds.
 I am also surprised that we have to spend 70 Billion naira on a new voters register! So what happened to the Census database, the drivers license database, and the Civil Registration database.  Voters according to Nigerian Constitution must be 18years and above. In 2006, Nigeria did a comprehensive Census- why not get the details of every Nigerian 18 years and above by 1st of September 2010 (as a benchmark) from the Census database and transfer them to a voters register. Since it is a database, you can search for and verify your data from anywhere in Nigeria. I think this is simply a conspiracy both of the ICT Technical Companies and Government to blow 70 Billion naira for no reason at all.  Secondly, INEC must use the modified open ballot system (option A4) to conduct the elections. I have been involved in elections since the time of the man who stepped aside, the modified open ballot system is simple and easy to detect any form of fraud. In addition, the various security agencies, especially the Police must play a neutral role. I know it is difficult, especially when a sitting President- who controls your salaries- is contesting, they must see the future of Nigeria first before their paycheck.

Zoning Champions: It is amazing to see notable(?) Nigerians become ethnic champions overnight because of zoning. I am amazed that Alhaji  Balarabe Musa, highly respected by the civil society for his stand over the years  in favour of democratic ideals could fall so callously in favour of zoning, which means his campaign over the years were only skin deep! Atiku Abubakar and IBB whose only claim to relevance in Nigeria is because they were once 1st and 2nd citizens respectively were the most disappointing. How on earth could a former Military ruler, whose primary code was an allegiance to the national Coat of Arms and the defense of the territorial integrity of Nigeria become an ethnic warlord in a jiffy! This simply means that there is nothing called Nigeria for these men of yesterday. They see no future in a truly united, great country called Nigeria. Their interest is ethnic, parochial and selfish. They therefore have lost every single right to contest for the Presidency of Nigeria. It’s a shame that this is what Nigeria has become after fifty years of independence. So what legacy do these men have for the young people around them,  to be an ethnic champion in a globalized world? I want them striped of the National honours, they don’t deserve it at all. These men actually have NOTHING to offer Nigerians, especially of my generation, what they are inadvertently telling us is that if we make the mistake of handing them power they will be ethnic warlords, nepotistic, and play prebendal politics, the same practices that have stunted the growth of the country for fifty years. No, we reject them and their parochial  agenda, we call for truly nationalistic leaders irrespective of where they come from, who can fly the Nigerian flag in the global arena. We are not interested in people who will turn Nigeria to another Somalia!

Bankole Olubamise, is Executive Director, Development Information Network (DevNet), Yaba, Lagos and can be reached at [email protected]

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