Jonathan, IBB, Atiku's battle of wits

VANGUARD Newspaper- Jide Ajani

The pro-zoning Northern Political Leaders Forum is launching, later this week, a state-by-state mobilisation against moves to jettison zoning, in the latest of the battle of wits, that has pitched President Goodluck Jonathan against former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

The Forum which strongly aligns with Gen. Babangida and Alhaji Atiku will, during the mobilization, collect the signatures of political leaders across the North to demand that the PDP should stand firm on its zoning policy. The mobilisation is expected to be extended to local government headquarters and the wards.

The objective is to sway the generality of Northerners behind zoning.

A group of northern leaders, many of them sympathetic to President Jonathan, met in Kaduna on Thursday and gave him the go ahead to contest the 2011 election, saying the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua should not deny Jonathan the rights and privileges of their joint ticket.

* 10 Northern govs for zoning

Sunday Vanguard gathered that no fewer than 10 of the 16 Northern governors that won election on the platform of the PDP are in support of zoning.

They are those of Niger, Katsina, Kwara, Nassarawa, Adamawa, Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.

The governors of Benue, Kogi, Plateau and Taraba are said to be on the side of President Jonathan while Governors Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna are believed to be pre-occupied with battles against forces opposed to them.

The biggest threat to Gov. Yuguda, sources said, is the FCT Minister, Alhaji Bala Mohammed. The duo are locked in a battle of supremacy, and it was gathered in Abuja that the minister seems to be winning with the party’s national headquarters poised to hand over the PDP machinery in the state to him.

Gov. Yakowa is said to be sorting himself out with Islamic fundamentalists who are opposed to his emergence.

However, the Northern governors will make their collective decision known after the state by state mobilisation.

* Kaduna Summit okays Jonathan

The Northern Political Summit as the meeting was tagged, “considered the various positions, viewpoints and options together with the related implication to the peace and stability of the country. It resolved that the zoning that produced the presidency of Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan was an inseparable ticket, therefore the demise of one did not invalidate the privileges of the remaining beneficiary of that zoning”.

It asked the leadership of the PDP to “allow superior provision of the Nigerian Constitution to guide the party in producing guidelines and regulations in the conduct of primaries to elect presidential candidates.

“In the circumstances, the most viable option is what has been expected. First, to ensure that indeed, the conduct of the primaries are such that the best candidates are given the opportunity to run for the office of the president”.

Atiku and IBB
* IBB, Atiku’s supporters boycott summit

Sunday Vanguard learnt that the supporters of General Babangida and those of Alhaji Atiku did not attend Thursday’s meeting.
Instead, many of them, according to sources, tried to reach out to as many northern political leaders as possible to dissuade them from attending the Summit.

The conveners of the meeting, on their part, kept making phone calls and sending emissaries to those they thought should be there to attend.

More contacts, sources said, are being made by all parties and meetings scheduled with opinion leaders and interest groups all in a bid to gain the upper hand in the battle of wits.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that a former Minister from the North West is the sole coordinator of the pro-Jonathan groups.
Friends of Democracy headed by former deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume and other groups have been told to get clearance and certification as pro-Jonathan groups. This may cause crack in the pro-Jonathan movement.

The Mantu/Ararume led Friends of Democracy has been flexing muscles as the primus of the pro-Jonathan movement.


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