‘Is America Zoning?’ Dino Melaye Dismisses Power-Sharing Deal As ‘Archaic’

Emmanuel Egobiambu  
Updated April 8, 2022
Senator Dino Melaye appeared on Channels Television's Politics Today on October 28, 2021.
A file photo of Senator Dino Melaye during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today on October 28, 2021.


Senator Dino Melaye on Friday faulted Nigeria’s unofficial power-sharing deal, insisting it does not exalt excellence and meritocracy. 

“After 60 years of independence, it will be myopic, porous, parochial, archaic, and analogue thinking to still be talking about zoning,” he said on Channels Television’s Politics Today amid debates over the zoning of the presidential seat.

“We must graduate from a mediocre society to a meritorious society where the best foot is being put forward.”

The former lawmaker argued that in most developed countries of the world like the US, power-sharing deals like zoning are not practiced.

He recalled his attempt to introduce a bill baring the usage of state of origin in Nigeria, maintaining that the country should be a “stateless” nation.

“Instead of having the quota system and saying some states are at disadvantage, we should open the space to merit as practiced in other civilised climes across the globe,” he insisted.


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‘Is America Zoning?’

The leading political parties have not made pronouncements about the zoning arrangement for the presidential seat.


Senator Melaye accused governors and politicians of selfishness, claiming they are marginalising people in their states.

“So, I am saying the space should be open for the best so that you don’t restrict those who have the capability,” he argued.

Nigeria, he said, should evolve just as the world is moving towards better ways of doing things. He compared the zoning arrangement to a man still taking baby food even when he has outgrown that. For him, Nigeria should outgrow the power-sharing formula and move from “analogue thinking to digital reasoning”.

“The food you eat as a child is different from the one you take as an adult,” the Kogi-born Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain said.

“After 20 years of democracy and after 60 years of independence, you cannot continue to think of zoning. Is America zoning?”

While proponents of zoning between the southern and northern regions of Nigeria believe the system fits the country due to its diversity, Melaye claims nations who share similarities with the West Africans, do not do such.

“These peculiarities are existing in other countries I am mentioning,” the former Kogi West lawmaker maintained.

Melaye is one of the high-profile politicians to have openly condemned zoning. Under the unofficial arrangement, the president is expected to be from the southern part of Nigeria after Muhammadu Buhari, who is from the northern region, finishes his tenure next year.

Despite the unwritten deal, debates over which part of the country should produce the next president has continued among Nigerians.

Several political heavyweights from the northern region, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and ex-Senate President Bukola Saraki, have formally declared interest in the number one position.

Although some top politicians from the south such as a former governor of Lagos State Bola Tinubu are also in the race, the leading political parties are yet to make pronouncements about the zoning arrangement for the presidential seat.