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How President Jonathan can write his name in gold, by Prof. Tunde Adeniran

By Jide Ajani

Prof. Tunde Adeniran is a founding member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP! In this interview he bares his mind on the raging debate over the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 polls and counsels the president not to run.  But Jonathan’s possible candidature is already tearing the party and the Nigerian polity apart.  This is due to the zoning arrangement of one party, the PDP. Excerpts:

There is a current debate on the most suitable number of political parties for the country.  What is your take on this?
Going back, there was the recommendation of the Political Bureau which called for a two-party-system.  That represented the thinking of Nigerians at that time. But personally, I don’t think that a two-party system should be decreed.  It is something that should be allowed to evolve.  It is a system that should be encouraged so that people would form parties based on ideologies.  I believe that is better than the free-for-all arrangement that we currently have in the country where parties are seen more or less as business enterprises by some people because the government funds the parties.

Prof Adeniran

Is it wrong for government to fund parties?
There should be some criteria to be met by parties before they can be recognized and supported by the government.  Some people believe that there can be 100, 200 or more parties.  By the time you instill some discipline in the system then only those which meet the criteria can survive.  That is the practice all over the world. There should not be a situation where you allow a family, their in-laws and friends to form a political party and then they would start collecting money from INEC.

That should not be allowed. By the time you put rational criteria on ground, you would realize that Nigerians would be left with two, three or may be four parties.  I believe what we have now is a chaotic, riotous situation.

It allows for undue manipulation and is not good for democratic development.  Right now some parties are used to gate-crash and used as bargaining chips which is not for mass participation and therefore not healthy for the political process.

There is also this controversy on whether President Goodluck Jonathan should run in 2011. The issue of zoning appears to be tearing even the PDP apart.  As a founding member what would you advise the president to do in this regard?

Indeed you have people speculating on whether there was agreement among the party members that there should be zoning or there shouldn’t be zoning. I see a lot of people making statements that are self serving, statements that are geared towards, perhaps policy preferences of some individuals. Those of us that joined the party know why we joined the party. We believed, at the time and we still believe very strongly in the unity of this country.  We believe in fairness, we believe in equity and we believe in justice.

We believe that every part of this country should be made to feel wanted and should be given the opportunity to aspire to any level and we are not relenting on those principles.

Talking about zoning, we are at a crossroads, now, North and South.  Some people are urging President Jonathan to run, while others are insisting that it is not yet the turn of the South to have the Presidency going by the caucus meeting that was held in 2002 as advertised by the Integrity Forum.  If you are consulted, what would be your advice to Dr. Jonathan?

My advice would be very clear.  Let me make it clear that the 2002 caucus meeting referred to in a recent advertisement was real.  It was not a fake report. That meeting took place and members were duly briefed about that meeting.

But first of all you must note that the President has not come out to say he wants to contest or not.  The challenges facing him are enormous; there are so many things to do between now and next year.  He is a man of integrity, he is a man who is very patriotic, he is a nationalist and I see him devoting his time trying to govern this country, rather than politicking. So those who are saying he is free to contest are expressing their views which is permitted in democracy but I believe that he knows the challenges that we currently face in this country and he is going to devote his time towards governing and making sure that the reform processes to be put in place are actually put in place.

And this goes to the next point I am going to make.  You asked if I were to give advice, my genuine advice would be that Mr. President should concentrate fully and firmly on re-positioning this nation.  And as a key stakeholder in our party, he should work towards re-positioning our party so that we have internal democracy within the party and to work towards ensuring unity and stability of the polity and to bring about a transformation of the Nigerian nation by convincing the outside world that indeed we have great men who would want to go down in history as real architects of a great nation.  In other words, he should concentrate on building this nation, to devote his energy, his intellect and the resources available to him to building this country.

He should bring about electoral reforms, the power sector which is very dear to him, concentrate on such issues and related matters. Within one year, he could do so much that forever, this country would be remembering him.

In plain words, would you advise Jonathan to run in 2011?
I wouldn’t advise him to, because there is so much on the ground for him to do in administering this country.
With regard to the policy of the party on the belief that motivated what really spurred the people that came together, we came together as Peoples’ Democratic Party because we believe in justice, we believe in equity, we believe in fairness and we believe in Nigeria.

In an attempt to work out modalities for ensuring that we arrive at those goals, those core values that we believe that was when this issue of zoning came in.  We were passionate, we felt that there was no way, particularly those of us from the South and the South West in particular, at that time felt that so much injustice had been done and we can’t afford to have a federation in which power will be the sole preserve of a section of the country.

The issue came up in most of the meetings we held at the early period and there was this common agreement that indeed, power must always shift until such a time when we would have stabilized and anybody from any part of the country can come up at any time and vie for the position of the president.

It is right to say that out party, because of our belief in justice, because of our belief in the unity of this country and because of our belief that progress, unity, justice, equity can only be guaranteed when that principle of zoning is adopted.  We indeed subscribed to it.  And we are committed to ensuring that those principles are followed.

As we entered your premises, we were confronted with the humming electricity generator, a sad reminder that your party the PDP, has failed to deliver on its promises to Nigerians, after 11 years in power.

Indeed we promised Nigerians a number of things.  We have not been able to deliver on all the things we promised.  The power sector is one of the areas we have not been able to meet the expectations of Nigerians.  But we thank God that we have been able to sustain the democratic process.  We thank God that there is relative stability and peace.  And we also thank God that there is hope for the future.

Indeed, our expectation was that by now, the power issue would have been solved.  Unfortunately, due to some problems and not due to lack of political will but because implementation was faulty, we are yet to deliver on that.  We are not afraid to be honest.

We have to be honest.  We have to admit that we have not succeeded in that particular sector.  But there are some other areas where we have succeeded.  We intend to build up.  That is why we look inwards to be able to do certain things. That is why you see some of us agitating for example in the area of democracy, trying to deepen internal democracy within the party.

We are even more critical of ourselves within the party than by those outside.

Some of us came together at a point to put together the National Patriotic Movement within the party to be able to ensure we re-position the party to ensure we deepen the internal democracy within it.  That will have a spill-over effect on what we do at the larger, national level.  We believe, by gearing up those in authority, those in leadership, those who have been charged with specific assignments in government we’ll be able to deliver to the people what we promised.


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