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North seeks Jonathan’s assurance on 2011 ticket

By Jide Ajani,  Deputy Editor

Fresh political calculations are beginning to emerge in the country in the aftermath of Wednesday’s death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, and ahead of next year’s election.

Neck-deep in the political calculations are the ruling PDP which is under severe pressure to take another look at its zoning formula, and the North which produced the late President and is expected, under the PDP zoning, to retain power until 2015.Its leaders are seeking an assurance from President Goodluck Jonathan that the presidential ticket of the PDP for 2011 will not elude the north.

Party sources told Sunday Vanguard in Abuja that while the PDP leadership, as a group is currently busy with the issue of vice president, different interest groups within the party are more interested in which zone will produce the presidential candidate for 2011.

Pressure is mounting on President Goodluck Jonathan to vie for the ticket, even after the PDP national chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor said recently that the party’s presidential flag bearer would come from the north.

Many northern politicians think that should President Jonathan go ahead to seek election next year while serving out the Yar’Adua’s term, the odds would mass against the north.

It was gathered that leaders of the Arewa Consultative Forum ACF, intend to meet Jonathan to “make another presentation in the face of new political realities in the country”, occasioned by his emergence as President and seek an assurance on its right to the presidency in 2011..
They are also keen on thrashing out the issue of who becomes vice president.
They were working on that when Yar’Adua passed on.

A PDP BoT member, who is abreast of the meetings and discussions on the issues, had spoken to Sunday Vanguard about what he called “the position of the north”.
But he was careful in making his comments:
“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.

“The other problem is that the north has made its position clear about the matter and they are not lying low.  They say they still want the issue of zoning which, to be fair, is their right”.
Asked about the recent development and the emergence of Jonathan as President, the party chief said:  “I said we should give a couple of weeks for things to clear but nobody ever expected that President Yar’Adua would die last Wednesday.

“Now the fears of the north would even become more real in the face of the latest development in the country”, he added.

Going by the context of political configuration in Nigeria especially the enormous powers of an incumbent at the polls, however, the present fear in the north is that should Jonathan decide to contest next year on the platform of the same PDP, it might signal another term of marginalization.

A source close to ACF said, “we are sure that President Jonathan has a date with history and it is for him to do what he thinks history would judge him for.  He has become the President and Commander-in-Chief and it is the making of the Almighty.  That should always resonate in his consciousness”.


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