North tackles Jonathan on zoning

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Segun Olatunji

The North on Wednesday faulted President Goodluck Jonathan’s claim on Monday that the People Democratic Party did not zone the presidency to any part of the country.

It said in a statement by its umbrella body, the Arewa Consultative Forum, that Jonathan’s statement was capable of throwing the country into a “fresh political crisis.”

The statement reads in part, “It seems obvious that the statement is an intention to abrogate some key aspects of the constitution of the PDP. Given his position as the leader of the party and head of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Dr. Jonathan’s statement has the capacity to alter most of the ground-rules of electioneering contest not only in the PDP but also in other political parties as well.

“In the circumstances, the ACF submits that the PDP meets in an emergency session to adopt one of two positions: (a) The party accepts President Jonathan’s claims and then proceeds to expunge the relevant clauses in the PDP constitution which require that the party adheres to the policy of zoning and rotation of offices.

But the President, through his campaign organisation, said the criticisms would not distract him from making life better for Nigerians.

The organisation, in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Sully Abu, said that Jonathan was focused on governance despite his presidential ambition.

“In spite of President Goodluck Jonathan’s ongoing campaign activities, he remains sharply focused on the minutiae of governance and to work with utmost commitment to make life better for our people,” Abu said.

The ACF also accused the President of trying to “abrogate some key aspects of the constitution of the PDP,” and advised the ruling party to call an emergency meeting to either deny or accept Jonathan’s statement on zoning.

Jonathan had after submitting his nomination form to contest the presidential primaries of the PDP in Abuja on Monday, said that the party never zoned the presidency.

He had said, “Either by virtue of the PDP constitution, or in practice, the presidency of Nigeria has never been zoned to any part of the country.

“It has never been zoned or maybe I would read some sections of our own constitution too. There is the concept of zoning and rotation in the PDP constitution to encourage power to move from one part to the other and it is not limited to the Office of the President.”

But the ACF, in the statement after its National Working Committee in Kaduna, Kaduna State, argued that the President’s claim had “the capacity to alter most of the ground-rules of electioneering contest” in all the existing political parties in the country.

It said that the PDP should proceed to expunge zoning and rotation of public offices from its constitution if it aligned with Jonathan’s claim.

“(b) In the alternative, the party can reject Mr. President’s postulation, affirm the requirements for rotation/zoning more clearly, and thereafter ask President Jonathan to excuse himself from the party; and seek election in 2011 under another political party which does not have similar constraints.

“(c) President Jonathan’s justification of his decision to run in 2011 with the idea that some aspirants did so in both 2003 and 2007 is not correct. Not correct in the sense that in 2003, few aspirants from the North indicated their interest to run. But the party refunded their money with which they purchased the nomination forms.

The statement by the ACF National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, also faulted Jonathan’s insistence to contest the presidency.

The ACF added that the adjustments to the 2010 Electoral Act and the election timetable must not alter the May 29 handover date.


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