*ACF cautions against move
By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor
Even after its no-victor-no-vanquished national executive committee,Â NEC , meeting of last Tuesday, the leadership of the ruling PDP remains divided down the line over the widely speculated presidential ambition of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
Already the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has sent word to the Acting President to ensure that â€œthe virtues of peace, fairness, equity and justice are the guiding principles of his administrationâ€.
The ACF, Sunday Vanguard can also reveal, is insisting that the zoning arrangement of the PDP is a sure panacea for the evolution of equity in the country.
A source in the partyâ€™s Board of Trustees, BoT, told Sunday Vanguard that â€œwhat we are hearing is that the Acting President wants to contest the presidential election of next year and it is dividing the party.
â€œAlthough I have not heard it from him, that is the general story.
â€œThe only problem is that when the National Assembly made its proclamation making him Acting President, we had thought that he would just focus on solving the immediate problems in the country which is power supply and security.
â€œBut we are still waiting to see what happens because things are not very clear now; may be in a couple of weeks we would be sure of what is happening and at that time we can speak better.
â€œThe other problem is that the north has made its position clear about the matter and they are not lying low.Â They say they still want the issue of zoning which, to be fair, is their rightâ€
Asked about the role of Obasanjo in the plot about Jonathanâ€™s ambition, the source said, â€œwe are watching events and if we discover that the Acting President will refuse to be his own man, thenÂ we will have to leave him to his fateâ€.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the ACF in making its position on the issue of zoning known to the Acting President, last week, was very clear: it must remain.
Already, three northerners, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd); National Security Adviser, NSA, General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (rtd) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar are in the race for the presidency next year â€“ although Gusau and Atiku have not made their ambition public.
The numerical superiority of Northern PDP in any election is what the ACF is said to be banking on in its insistence that any attempt to disorganize the zoning arrangement would not be taken lightly.
Meanwhile, there are indications that the acting president may not have an easy ride in his reported presidential ambition in his South-South base.
Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States are not known to swing in the way of Jonathan in the emerging political re-configuration for next yearâ€™s presidential election.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State is a member of the Action Congress, AC, and, may therefore, remain indifferent; a large segment of the political leadership in Delta State does not share the Gestapo-style approach of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in its pursuit of the case against former governor James Onanefe Ibori of the state; and there is the challenge from his home Bayelsa State where the state governor, Timpreye Silva is at loggerheads with the Acting President.
Added to this is the concern in some quarters that Jonathan had never really mounted the rostrum to campaign in an election for himself and, therefore, may not have the political wherewithal to mobilize for himself.
For Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom State, it would only be a matter of time for their hands to be played out.