Neither the APC Muslim/Muslim ticket nor the PDP Muslim/Christian ticket were seen to adhere to it.
In a report released by the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), concerns have been raised regarding the adherence to the convention of zonal rotation in key elected and appointed positions in Nigeria.
The convention, aimed at promoting a national balance of religious representation between the predominantly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south, came under scrutiny following the conclusion of President Buhari’s constitutional two-term limit.
President Buhari, hailing from the Muslim-dominated north, completed his second term, leading to the anticipation of the presidential elections. However, the electoral process quickly became embroiled in wide-ranging controversies surrounding zonal representation, resulting in intra-party disputes.
Both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) faced criticisms for their choice of presidential tickets. The APC ticket, featuring two Muslim candidates, deviated from the convention of religious balance, while the PDP ticket, consisting of a Muslim presidential candidate and a Christian vice-presidential candidate, also drew criticism for not fully adhering to the zonal rotation principle.
These controversies sparked intense debates within both parties and the wider Nigerian society. Supporters of the zonal rotation convention argued that it is vital for maintaining a delicate balance between the country’s religious communities and preventing the domination of one group over the other. They expressed concerns that deviating from this principle could lead to further political and religious tensions.
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The EU EOM report serves as a reminder of the international community’s interest in Nigeria’s electoral process and highlights the need for transparency, inclusivity, and adherence to democratic norms during this crucial period in the nation’s history.
The EU, EOM quoted in their report:
“By convention there is a rotation between zones in key elected and appointed positions in Nigeria, to promote national balance of religious representation between the predominantly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south.”
“At the end of the constitutional two terms limit of President Buhari (Muslim from the north), the presidential elections ensued wide-reaching controversies about zonal representation triggering intra-party disputes as neither the APC Muslim/Muslim ticket nor the PDP Muslim/Christian ticket were seen to adhere to it.” the EU EOM added on Page 11.