Prince Marcel Nnah is a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State and a business magnet. He spoke exclusively with MYKE UZENDU on why zoning can save the country from degenerating into further crises, as well as the preparedness of the South East geopolitical zone to occupy the presidential villa in 2023.
At the moment, some people are saying that zoning arrangement should be renegotiated all over again in Enugu state. What is your advice to all the political gladiators?
It is very simple, there is no way we can move forward without looking behind the tapping of the founding fathers of the party that initiated the concept of zoning. Even those who are rejecting zoning are products of zoning, all of them.
Just take for instance, members of the House of reps, name any of the State House of Assembly member that wasn’t produced by our party through zoning. It is the platform that gave them the energy and synergy, so they cannot enjoy this zoning formula, then come back and deny others the system that produced them.
So for me, my advice is very simple. Let all of us fall back to zoning, so that more people will be embraced in the political world and then we can fine tune whatever has been the differences.
So what will be your advice to the Enugu state Governor?
As far as am concerned, the people that will produce the next government will be Enugu East but it is left for the party system through His Excellency to inform the state.
My advice is for him to maintain the zoning principle. That policy is a very perfect one, it encourages participation, fairness.
There is this view that some zones have enjoyed the Lion Building more than other zones and hence the need to renegotiate the zoning formula in the state to entrench equity?
I want to assure you that that line of argument doesn’t hold any watershed. It doesn’t and it won’t because that is an argument that has been presented from the point of view of one being naive. He who comes to equity must come clean. You cannot take your share, when it is the share of others, you will bring along unbelievable arguments. We must rise up to the occasion of defending what the visionary leaders of PDP in Enugu state initiated.
Let me ask you, without zoning, how could the West produce the present Deputy Governor. Without zoning, do you think that the north will not maintain the leadership in Enugu state for a long time because they have the men and number. Their numerical strength is more than the two zones combined together. So, let us allow common sense to play here.
Do you also think that lack of zoning is the reasons behind the agitations from various ethnic nationalities with the present government at the center?
Zoning was the primary idea of PDP. It was done in order to maintain equity, curb marginalization and above all, encourage use of common sense in sharing or distributing national political offices in the country.
Now, because some people have made fortunes from it, they are now trying to ask Nigerians to jettison the zoning system. When it favours them then its okay, but when it doesn’t fit them, then it should be jettisoned. I don’t think it is the best. So I want to advise that at the national level, everyone irrespective of party affiliation, should maintain zoning system formula, because that’s the only way every part of Nigeria will feel a sense of belonging.
As we move close to 2023 Presidential election, do you think that the South East is ready to occupy the presidential Villa?
The South East is 100% prepared to take their slot at the presidency, but we have a problem. The problem is coordination, coordination is highly important. You cannot make more headway in achieving any goal when your house is not in order.
So, the South East needs to coordinate itself because leadership is all about trust, a trust you are holding for the people. For you to qualify to hold such an office for people, you must have a well coordinated plan in any endeavour you intend to engage. That’s what makes people to develop strong confidence in you.
So, we need a proper coordination in the sense of making sure that we are presenting a single candidate.
(Cuts in) Is it possible to present a single candidate?
Yeah 100% possible, that is why we are different. That’s where we have to show that we are different.
We must not maintain an aloof system simply because somebody started it before. Just like what we are saying about jettisoning the zoning system now. So if we look at what people have done in the past, and feel that we need to amend it, in order to achieve our goal, we have to come down and amend it. We don’t need to say let us copy somebody who has done something wrong.
One of the arguments against the South East is that they have low voting population. What can be done to ignite their interest in the political process?
Many have spoken about political sensitization, but I want to tell you that I disagree with political sensitization because that system will not work. The only thing we need to do is being open. When a leader says a word, he must do all within his ambit or capacity to make sure he maintains or he puts it into practice.
The issue of low political participation is one vice that is all over the country. We witnessed it all over the country in 2011, 2015 and 2019.
The reason is very simple. The actors have never been fair in facing the masses openly and in decision making. So there’s no way I won’t be dragging my legs following you, if I noticed that you are not doing or maintaining what you’re telling me. You tell a voter to come and vote for you and as soon as you grab power, you don’t even look at his needs. That’s one of the things that constitute political apathy.
So now moving forward, what I would suggest to our leaders everywhere is that politicians, those who are in place of authorities today should remember that it does not last forever. If you don’t leave good examples for those upcoming politicians to emulate, the trend will be maintained. So, we need a change in trend from what it is today. We need the present political office holders to understand that this is a different time and not deceive people. That is what has been causing political apathy and it has to be managed with a human face and everybody will return into political environment without fear or favour.
So as regards south-eastern strength for producing the president come 2023, it goes a long way to tell you the importance of zoning.
The South East understands from day one that our voting strength is very low. Even if you match south, east and south south together, it will still remain very poor. That is where zoning plays an important role. That’s why the founding fathers of PDP clinched to that word zoning.