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You can’t zone what you don’t have control over – Jonathan

*He is not spending public funds in his campaigns Lampoons Saraki
*You are up for a stiff election—Nwodo tells Jonathan

By Henry Umoru

ABUJA— PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan and a Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP said, yesterday, that zoning of the presidency in the PDP had been among the six geo-political zones and not between the North and the South as being claimed by some presidential aspirants and their supporters.

The President who broke his silence on the burning issue of zoning noted that you cannot zone when you don’t have absolute control in the position, adding,“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. We will read that section from the least office (from Councillorship to the Presidency) to encourage rotation and the issue of zoning, PDP does not zone the Presidency but PDP zones offices they have absolute control or reasonable control.

“The fact also is that the chairman of the party, deputy chairman, secretary, these are offices that PDP has absolute control and normally PDP will zone.”

Answering questions from Journalists after submitting his nomination form,President Jonathan stressed that PDP as a party encourages rotation where other offices like Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President, among others have to wait until the President and Vice President emerge because PDP as a party has absolute control over these positions.

Submitting forms

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo while welcoming the President and his team to his office reminded him that four other aspirants, former Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, his immediate past National Security Adviser, NSA, General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau and Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki had come to submit their forms for the 2011 Presidential election.

According to Nwodo, the president was up to a stiff election against the backdrop that heavy weight aspirants were running under the Peoples Democratic Party, just as he said that the Party will win the 2011 Presidential election, adding, “You are up for a stiff election, these are very heavy weight aspirants who are running under the PDP, the PDP will win the election; we are happy that you are joining the race, we wish you the best.”

Also yesterday, Lovette Ederin Idisi, House of Representative aspirant for Ethiope Federal Constituency, Delta State was also at the Secretariat to submit his forms for the election.

The President, who arrived the Wadata Plaza, National Secretariat of the Party 3.15 pm, went straight to the office of the National Chairman of the Party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo at 3.22 where he submitted his form. He came with his entourage in a white Toyota Hiace Bus with registration number BD 823 RBC.

He was accompanied to the Secretariat by Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, former Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of the party, Chief Tony Anenih,Director_General, Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Dr.Sarki Tafida, former PDP National Chairmen, Barnabas Gemade, Ahmadu Ali, Senator Isaiah Balat, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; Professor Jerry Gana, Saidu Sambawa; Minister of Police Affairs,Waziri Maina, Niger Delta Minister, Elder Godsday Orubebe; Women Affairs Minister, Mrs. Josephine Anenih, and Senator Jonathan Zwingina.

Reasonable control

Also with him were governors of Nasarawa State, Akwe Doma, Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi; Danbaba Suntai of Taraba; Liyel Imoke of Cross River, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina; Christopher Alao_Akala, of Oyo, Segun Oni of Ekiti state and Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State.

Speaking further, President Jonathan said, “Offices like Senate Presidency, Speaker and National Assembly Officers, PDP has reasonable control as long as we are in the majority. Those offices could be zoned. But, before you zone those offices, the President and the Vice-president would have first emerged. I am saying this because I was involved. If you take the situation of the 2007 election for example, when Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and myself emerged, then we met.
Ali is here, he was the Chairman of the party then, the former President,Olusegun Obasanjo, our late President, myself, the Secretary of the party then,Ojo Maduekwe and Tony Anenih, we then sat down in the Glass House.

“The north would have gotten a President who is from the North West, we have a Vice_President who is from the South_south, then, where should we place the party chairman, then we decided it has to go to the South East. Where do we place the Senate President, we decided it has to go to the North Central. And now we zoned all these other offices. These are offices that PDP has some reasonable control. But before you zone them, the President and Vice President must first emerge.

“If you look at the tradition of PDP, after zoning those offices, if for any reason any of them resigned, then you call on that zone to pick a replacement.

That is why when Ogbulafor resigned; the party had to go to the South East to pick the current chairman (Nwodo).When Patricia Etteh resigned as Speaker of the
House of Representatives, the party had to go to the South West.

“The party did not just go to the South. So, if anybody is making that argument, then of course, he can only say ok, the North West, then, nobody from the North Central zone can even aspire to the presidency or the North East. PDP operates on the six zonal structure.

“But, if you ask yourself, some of the other aspirants we are talking about. The concept of zoning has been in PDP from inception. We have the PDP 1999 constitution and if you ask the chairman will give you. This is the very first constitution and the zoning concept is there but not expressly stated. Then 2001 constitution, it says that in Article 7 (2) ( c ), “in pursuance of the principles of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels from Councillor to Presidency”.

“Even at the state level, the PDP encourages the governorship position to be rotated. The other offices are zoned after the governor and the deputy governor have emerged. Let me take two states and give you example at that level for those who want to over drag this.

“And this was in 2001. Let me digress a little. Those who are arguing, especially those who are also aspirants, who are arguing about this zoning, ask them, were they interested in contesting the Presidency of this country in 2003? Were they interested in 2007? Of course if by our practice, PDP has a zoning arrangement that the presidency will be in the North for eight years,then south for eight years, then North for eight years, in 2003 no northern aspirant would have developed interest.

“But in 2003, you know that some of these people who are talking about zoning,it created a lot of havoc in the party because they wanted to contest, even against Obasanjo, who had served only for one tenure.

“Then, in 2007, we had about 28 aspirants. If it was purported to have been zoned to the North, then you wouldn’t have expected any southerner, but we even had about 16, more southerners that contested for the presidency. So, even in practice, the PDP constitution, the one I read, I decided to read from 2001, to tell you that it is not a recent issue. It has been a part of the party. This is 2009. The 2009 constitution, the current one, they lifted it exactly, no
word is altered.

“The process of zoning is not limited to the Presidency alone. The concept of rotation, at the Councillorship level, the party encourages us to shift Councillorship to either from one community to the other or one compound to the other or from one family to the other that make up the ward.

Chairmanship level

“At the local government chairmanship level, we encourage that the post should move from one ward to the other so that no one ward can monopolize the seat. It goes on for all the seats.”

He then lampooned one of the Presidential aspirants and Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki and buttressing his argument that there was no zoning in PDP.President Jonathan noted that if there was zoning even at the state level, Saraki who will be rounding off his eight year tenure will not want to hand over to his sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki who comes from the same zone with him,adding, “In Kwara state, you see that Saraki, whose term is completing, he is
leaving, because the Nigerian constitution allows for two tenures, but of course, the younger sister is contesting. If the party has zoned the position,definitely, somebody from that senatorial district cannot contest, except the younger sister is from a different senatorial district.

“If you look at the situation in Bayelsa state, you know my history. I am from Brass Senatorial District, I took over to finish Alamieyesiegha’s tenure, just like it has happened at the federal level. I was to go back and contest and the party had no objection. I even got the party’s ticket after the primary. But because I was now drafted to contest the Vice_Presidency seat, the party set up a committee, Dr. Ahmadu Ali is here, and gave Timipreye Sylva, who is from my
senatorial district. “The party would have said no, no, no, it had to go back may be to the Central Senatorial District, where Alamieyesiegha comes from, let them bring the aspirant form there. It is when a Governor, Deputy Governor emerges or Chairman or the Vice Chairman of the council emerges and at the national level, when the President and the Vice President emerges then, you now zone other offices. And immediately that zoning is done, any replacement has to
come from that zone, not North – South.

“Whenever those people talking about zoning come to you again, ask them, especially if they are fellow aspirants like me, ask them their political interests in 2003 and 2007. They are interested in 2011 and they are still talking about zoning. I will not do anything that is at variance with the constitution of the party. There is nothing like zoning Presidency to the North, zoning Presidency to the South.

When asked to speak on allegations that he was using government funds to run his campaigns, President Jonathan who noted that he was not using public funds for the campaigns said , “I am a serving President. Most of my Governors are facing the same accusation. The fact is that you cannot use state funds to run campaign. All over the world, we have Electoral laws which stipulate how much an individual can spend at elections. But, I have never used public funds to
run my campaigns. At the appropriate time I will publish the details of my campaign funds.”

No to zoning is a shame, IBB replies Jonathan

…says Jonathan was N0. 34 when zoning was endorsed

ABUJA—FORMER Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida said, yesterday,that it is a big shame for anyone in the country to say Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, never endorsed zoning for its elective positions.

Reacting to President Goodluck Jonathan’s comments yesterday at the National Secretariat of PDP while submitting his expression of interest and nomination forms that there was nothing like zoning the presidency to the North or the South by the party, Babangida who noted that President Jonathan was number 34 on the attendance list where the decision was taken on zoning when he was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, said: “Those who are crying foul of zoning
today are beneficiaries of the zoning formula of the PDP.

“It is bad and wicked politics to change the goal post at the middle of the game. It is unfortunate that politics has degenerated into this mindless bubble and reducing leaders to mere liars in the face of opportunism. It’s a shame, a big shame.”

In a statement yesterday by the Director, Media and Publicity, IBB 2011 Campaign Organisation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the 2011 presidential hopeful on thenplatform of PDP said that the zoning formula was adopted by the party to maintain stability and unity of the country.

According to the statement, “the president’s attention should be drawn to Section 229 of the report of the constitutional conference of 1995 which talked about rotation of political offices including that of president and governors,from where the PDP derived its inspiration to include zoning in its
constitution.

“Refer the President again to the meeting of expanded caucus of the PDP in 2002 in which 47 persons, including President Jonathan, then Deputy Governor of
Bayelsa State, voted for zoning out of 51 persons present, where it was decided that zoning should be the order between North and South.
“At that meeting, President Jonathan was number 34 on the attendance list. Refer the President again to Section 7, 2 (C) of the PDP constitution which is still
subsisting.

“All these were the steps taken to ensure that zoning stays to maintain stability and unity of the country. Anyone who tries to be opportunistic by
saying there was no zoning lacks integrity and honesty of a true leader. Those who are crying foul of zoning today are beneficiaries of the zoning formula of
the PDP.

“It is bad and wicked politics to change the goal post at the middle of the game. It is unfortunate that politics has degenerated into this mindless bubble and reducing leaders to mere liars in the face of opportunism. It’s a shame, a big shame.”


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