The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as a way of striking political balance, made a gentleman arrangement by adopting the zoning policy of four years each between the north and south. It started by zoning the presidency to the South-West in order to assuage them for the loss of Abiola, who was the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 election. Former President Obasanjo won the PDP primaries and subsequently won the 1999 election and was installed the president of Nigeria. He was re-elected for a second tenure of four years in 2003. In 2007, the presidency shifted to the North by the same PDP in which case the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was declared the winner with Jonathan as his vice. Jonathan, at the demise of Yar’Adua took over to serve out their term. With another election at the threshold, some Northerners in PDP are spitting fire and promising hell and brimstone, should Jonathan flout the gentleman arrangement and run for the presidency come 2011. But his southern kinsmen see Yar’Adua’s death as ‘force majure’ that is greater force has nullified any previous zoning arrangement therefore prodding him to run. The Tide on Sunday went to find out if Jonathan’s 2011candidacy portends any danger signal to the polity. Excerpts:
O.C.J. Okocha (SAN)
Every Nigerian citizen who is qualified to run for the office of the president as stipulated in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is entitled to do so. And I cannot fathom any reason why it should portend a danger for the unity of the country. Now we are talking about Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who is indeed the sitting president, who ran on a joint ticket with the late President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and if Nigerians thought him fit to be elected as vice president then it also necessarily follows that they think him fit to be elected as president because the qualification for the president is the same as that of the vice president. Following the death of the president, may God rest his soul in peace, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has assumed office and being sworn in as such. The join-ticket which they had, entitled them to run for a second term after the first term of four years. So ostensibly he is presently serving out the first term of late President Yar’Adua. He should be allowed to run if he so chooses. And I am sure that most Nigerians would say, we are impressed or not impressed and they will vote for him accordingly. So I am at a loss to understand why any Nigerian should say he shouldn’t. He is entitled to run and don’t see why it should pose any threat to the unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is a Nigerian. Now that he is president, has his presidency caused disunity? Indeed, I am more in tune with the people who say that his presidency is uniting the country. Because the young man is saying the right thing, making the right moves and indeed steering us on the right path.
Comr. Marvin Yobana – National Vice President Nigeria Youth Council and Project Coordinator, Rebuild Nigeria Initiative.
The call for Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan not to involve himself in 2011 presidential bid is unconstitutional, unethical, uncivilized; and it is not in the practice of our democracy that any region or group or individual as long as the person is qualified to be voted for or to vote or participate in any electoral process to be zoned out. We have not had anytime in this country that the zoning formula had worked. Even in the PDP, there has been no PDP Congress for nomination or election of candidates that will represent the party that the North and South candidates did not aspire. It will not overheat the polity for the president to contest; he is cleared by law and allowed by the constitution to run. He is free to carry out his franchise as the citizen of this country. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allows every individual that is qualified to contest. And if we are talking about free and fair election there is no need of talking about region because it is the right of the electorate to decide who becomes the president and not some few individuals. So for you to say that it has been zoned is another way of saying the election has been rigged; that the electorate can not choose anybody from the South even if the best candidate comes from the South. It is an archaic thinking of some political gladiators that want to hold Nigeria hostage. Those persons have been given opportunity in the past to enshrine true democracy for Nigeria but they failed. When they were 30 years, 40 years old, they were not able to help Nigeria; is it now that they are 70 years old that they want to come and save Nigeria? I think it is a myopic thinking of some selfish and greedy politicians who don’t have anything to offer to Nigeria. And at the same time I enjoin Nigerians to resist any attempt to cajole them to accept any barbaric arrangement that does not represent true federalism in the interest of the nation. As Nigerian youths and as a representative of the youths in this zone, we are going to challenge any such group or individual who think that they can bamboozle Nigerians to elect only those they feel that are supposed to run. It will not overheat the polity.
Mr. Azigaloate J. Baabel – Political Scientist.
The truth is that every citizen of Nigerian including Bro. Jonathan has a right to contest election into the highest office in Nigeria. It is the method of realizing this objective that may pose a danger to the nation or not. You must know that verbal threats including campaign of calumny are all methods employed to scare away potential heavy weights in any competition. Take away the presidential boyish smile and you have a Jonathan that can confront situations that stands to mar his political ambitions.
Referring to threats by the Northern elders, as far as I am concerned these are designed to scare Jonathan. Whether he stays scared is another matter when and if he finally decides to run for the Presidential election. One thing is certain, most of his Southern brothers are not insisting that he should run for the election from the depth of their heart. These are people who are easily swayed by selfish interest and monetary inducements. Jonathan must beware of them. He is a Nigerian President and shall remain so if he chooses to contest for the 2011 Presidency and wins.
From his days at the University of Port Harcourt he has read and probably attested to the fact that the sound of Africa seems lost in the echoes of sit-tight heads of state and government. So far, nature has entrusted it to him as a factor to reckon with in Nigeria he should be more concerned with leaving a legacy – the type bequeathed by Nelson Mandela who knew when to quit the stage as the ovation was loudest. He should consider the necessary reforms needed to move us into an honestly transparent and credible election where people of integrity and with the desire for a better Nigeria will offer themselves for service. Screening and re-screening by fire should naturally eliminate those whose only contributions to national growth is in the areas of grabbing and personalizing the common wealth.
Engr. Kingsley Onyejekwe – MD, Kingchi Nigeria Ltd.
It has been observed that the unity of Nigeria was once threatened by tribalism in our body polity. We cannot afford to allow the ugly trend of this to come into our political arena. Zoning brings about tribal sentiments and gradual dilution of national unity. It should be condemned and never to be visited. Apostles of zoning are politically myopic and nationally unacceptable. As a result they are hiding under a zone to cheaply occupy a seat that is not meant for them.
The president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is a child of divine project who emerged from the erstwhile political arrangement of zoning. His emergence speaks volume against agitation of zoning formula. It is high time we start learning from this divine intervention. All we need now is to produce a leader that is generally accepted and willing to serve the nation without tribal sentiment. The global political philosophy is geared towards producing quality leaders with impeccable character. Leaders that will bring about world peace. Leaders with vision based on strong content of character. Leaders that value education and knowledge and leaders that cherish the essence of humanity.
I therefore urge all Nigerians to speak against zoning and forge a common front of electing Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as our president in the forthcoming presidential election irrespective of one’s political party affiliation.
Wellington A.T. – Public Affairs Analyst
Aside Jonathan’s political history and favour from God, let us admit that late Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s few years of leadership has not failed this nation. If Jonathan decides to run in 2011, I do not see it as Jonathan but as a continuation of Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s joint ticket. Jonathan is only continuing what has been set to roll and bring it to accomplishment. Let us for once give way for credible leadership. If I may ask, if Yar’Adua was alive, will anyone stop Jonathan from being his vice for a second tenure? This is a leadership this nation will always remember. If the Northern elders insist on their protest, who will they present? Is it Babangida that ruled for years within which he institutionalized corruption, mismanagement and looting of the treasury? Or Atiku who has personality problem and was unable to work together as a team player to move the nation forward? Or is it Buhari who became president through coup d’tat? Who, Who, if I may continue to ask? Jonathan is a blessing to all of us. My advice is that Jonathan should concentrate on key projects like power supply and ensure free and fair election etc. to move the nation forward.