By Emeka Mamah, Henry Umoru, Chris Ochayi & Inalegwu Shaibu
As the debate over eligibility of President Goodluck Jonathan for 2011 presidential race intensifies, civil rights crusader, Comrade Shehu Sani, has advanced 90 reasons Jonathan should not dump Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP, zoning arrangement.
However, Senate Committee Chairman on Home Affairs, Senator Nimi-Bariagha Amange, has added his voice to calls on President Jonathan to contest, saying the PDP zoning arrangement was unconstitutional and undemocratic.
Sani who articulated his position under the aegis ofÂ Civil Rights Congress, CRC, said Jonathan should not jettison the zoning arrangement of the ruling PDP.
According to him, â€œthe emergence of Jonathan as president was as a result of zoning,â€ adding that Jonathan was a deputy governor, governor as a result of zoning even as the positions of Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives are not by merit but by zoning.
â€œThe position of Secretary to the GovernmentÂ of the Federation, ViceÂ President, Chairman of PDP, among other positions, were all zoned to one particular section of the country or another.
â€œAll the 59 political parties in the country zoned their leadership. Without zoning, only the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo can produce a president by their numerical strength.
â€œAll the 36 states governors and their deputies are products of zoning. Many ministers in the federal cabinet are products of zoning.
Senator Nimi Amange, who spoke to journalists at the Bridge Builders Forum, BBF, in Abuja, said zoning was not recognized in the constitution of the PDP.
He affirmed that President Jonathan had the constitutional rights like every other Nigerian to seek election to any office in the land.
He said: â€œThe constitution is quite clear. The constitution has never restricted Nigerians to give votes to one particular area, person or religion. People are confusing zoning with rotation. Zoning is like what we have in the constitution that is section 14 (2), federal character. Permanent Secretaries are zoned, Ministers are zoned.
â€œThe rotation is that, if a president finishes his tenure, then the next President will come from another area. That is the rotation we are talking of. Now, Yarâ€™Adua, unfortunately, did not finish his tenure and Goodluck is going to finish his tenure.
â€œAfter that, since Yarâ€™Adua is not here to take his second term, automatically the North-West has completed its tenure. That is what it means. So it should go to another area that has not produced president before. That is the rotation that we are talking about.â€
Only God will decide Jonathanâ€™s fate
Speaking in the same vein, former Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, said it was only God that would decide the fate of Jonathan on whether or not he will contest.
He noted that it would amount to efforts in futility trying to stop Jonathan from contesting in 2011.
He, however, urged those trying to stop him from running for the most exalted position in the country to stop wasting their time and energies.