The North Central geopolitical zone comprising of Kwara, Niger, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa and Kogi states has played a pivotal role in the politcal evolution and stability of the nation since independence up to this period due to the fact that the zone has always remained steadfast and consistent in their support for a united and cohesive nation most crucially during the Nigerian civil war when they played a yeomen’s role in keeping the nation one. And during the political period thereafter the support and loyalty of the North Central states have always been central to the victory of any political party nationwide right from the Second Republic, the Third Republic and the present Fourth Republic.
For instance, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Peoples Democractic Party (PDP) and lately the All Progressive Congress owe their presidential election victories to the bulk of electoral support from the strategic North Central zone, without which they would have failed dismally at the polls.
In the 2015 presidential elections it was the switching of support by the majority of North Central states from the PDP to the APC that led to the landmark defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan by General Muhammadu Buhari. Even in the 2019 general elections, the suport of the North Central has been unwavering particulary in Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau and Kogi states. So it is not far fetched to state that the North Central holds the ace in the Nigerian political configuration as it has not produced a presidential candidate from a major political party but has voted for candidates from other geo-political zones not for primordial or parochial concerns but out of a deep seated belief in promoting the cohesion and stability of our national institutions.
For instance in 2011, the Northeast and Northwest zones voted for General Muhammedu Buhari while the South east/Southsouth zones voted for President Goodluck Jonathan all due to ethnic and regional loyalty, however the North Central voted for President Jonathan who prevailed then. In the 2015 elections the reverse was the case as the North Central zone voted for General Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 giving him the decisive edge to defeat President Jonathan even though the voting pattern in the other zones remained the same.
The same scenario repeated itself in the recently concluded 2019 general elections. From the foregoing it is quite germane that the North Central zone should be adequately rewarded for its loyalty, consistency, resilience and commitment to the aims, objectives and electoral fortunes of the APC even though the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates are not even from the zone. In this regard many opinion leaders and influential leaders of thought as well as the rank and file of the party have been clamouring for the Speaker of the House of Representatives slot to be zoned to the North Central zone as a transparent gesture of reward for the sacifice that it has made for the success of th APC since its tremendous victory in 2015.
In this regard, it is germane to outline some issues regarding the zoning of the House Speakership position and why the North Central deserves to be given the slot in the 9th National Assembly.
For one, President Muhammadu Buhari is from the North West geopolitical zone, and as is the convention the House Speakership cannot be zoned to the North West. Also the political calculus does not favour the zoning of the Speakership position to the South west zone given the fact that the Vice President is from that zone.
In the zoning and allocation of political positions and offices, it is a time honoured tradition that party support and loyalty should be adequately rewarded in order to encourage the teeming party faithfuls to continue to back their party in future elections. Accordingly, the North Central stands at a more solid footing than the South West which is also angling for the House Speakership given the fact that the former has always voted overwhelmingly for the APC presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari both in 2015 and 2019. In fact the North Central zone gave President Buhari over 2.4 million votes against the South West’s 2 million votes in 2019. Undoubtedly, President Muahammadu Buhari has consistently emerged victorious in the North Central zone which gave him the edge in 2015 and 2019.
Indeed all the aspirants and contenders for the position of House Speaker are eminently qualified for the exalted seat and while the final decision of the party is being awaited as regards the zoning formula, it must be stated clearly that Hon Mohammed Bago, Chairman House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration possesses a towering profile and an awesome political resume in given the fact that he has been a card carrying member of the Congress for Progressive Change, the party formed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2011 and won elections to the House of Representatives under that platform in the same year when it had only a handful of elected members compared to the PDP, the ACN and defunct ANPP. The political loyalty and steadfastness of Hon Mohammed Bago to the progressive tendencies of President Buhari is also mirrored by the loyalty of HonBago’s home state, Niger to President Mohammed Buhari in the 2015 and 2019 elections where he won a whopping 80% and 71% of the votes respectively.
Given the dogged and uncompromising support that Niger State has given to the APC and its presidential candidate, President Mohammed Buhari, it is only logical and equitable that Hon Mohammed Bago (being from Niger State) should be whole heartedly supported in his historic quest for the House Speakership position. Indeed Hon Mohammed Bago and his beloved Niger State have sowed faithfully in the APC’s political landscape so they deserve to reap abundantly as well.