By Taye Obateru, Kingsley Omonobi &Â Idris Mohammed.
ABUJAâ€”THE plot against President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s emergence as presidential candidate of the ruling Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, gathered momentum, yesterday, as the Plateau State Chapter of the Northern Political Forum, NPLF, threatened that the North would pull out of the PDP should the party decide to abandon the zoning arrangement.
Also, yesterday, political leaders and people ofÂ Katsina State gathered at Maikudi Hotel insisting on zoning of presidency to North in 2011 election.
However, facts emerging from the camp of retired Generals from the North indicatedÂ that they were divided over whether or not President Goodluck Jonathan should contest on the platform of the PDP or step aside and conduct a free and credible elections.
Jos group threatens Northâ€™s exit
Addressing newsmen in Jos, the NPLF spokesman, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, said the North would go round the 53 political parties in the country to rally support for a Northern presidential candidate if PDP refused to respect the arrangement.
Kwande said that while the North had nothing against President Goodluck Jonathan as a person, it was against the manner the zoning arrangement which was introduced to guarantee fairness and equity to all was being toyed with.
He said that the zoning arrangement had been the winning formula for the PDP adding: â€œIt was an agreement signed and embraced by all but if some people feel it could be abandoned mainstream, they should be ready to face the consequences. I can tell you that the North would abandon the PDP and vote for a northerner of their choice.â€
Kwande who decried the attempt by some to introduce ethnicity or religion to the debate added: â€œWe are not against President Jonathan as a person or the section of Nigeria he comes from as some people will want Nigerians to believe.
All we are saying is that it is only morally right to respect agreement whether written or unwritten, formal or informal especially when such agreement is meant to be for the good of all.â€
He said it was unhealthy to terminate an agreement arbitrarily without the agreement of all the parties as the apologists of ending zoning were trying to do.
While agreeing that the zoning policy was an internal policy of PDP, he noted that the whole North would stand against its abandonment because it would affect their political interest.
The elder statesman lambasted northern political leaders campaigning against zoning as selfish warning that they would always need the North to actualize their political ambitions..
Kaita, others for zoning
Meantime, aÂ meeting of leaders of thought including youths and women under â€˜Katsina Stakeholders Forum,â€™agreed, yesterday, that the PDP zoning agreement reached between the North and South in 1999 was alive and the chances of the North to produce a president elapsed in 2015 and so must be observed.
Chairman of the forum and elder statesman, Alhaji Lawal Kaita who explained the circumstances of the June 12 annulment of the presidential election believed to have been won by late Chief Moshood Abiola in 1993, said the call for zoning of presidency in 1999 by the south was accepted by the north to sustain the unity of the country.
Kaita said: â€We agreed with the southern peopleâ€™s demand in 1999 for zoning of positions of President, national PDP chairman and other positions at the national level down to states and local level, that the south should do two term of eight years followed by north after which it could be continued or discontinued.
â€œWe are now hearing laudably that President Jonathan who took over immediately after President Umar Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s death, wants to continue in 2011 because he has the power and money. If President Jonathan insists on destroying the unity structure we put in place in 1999 by our collective resolve, I assure you PDP stands the chance ofÂ losing election in 2011.â€
Another leader, Dr. Junaidu Mamuda, condemned what he called a cheap betrayal attitude of their southern colleagues on the zoning agreement proposed by them.
He, however, blamed some northern leaders who goes out collecting money from presidency to run errands to sell the north to southern presidency in 2011..
Also, a respected legal icon, Bar. Aminu Maigari said, what ever the Katsina people finally agreed on would be passed on to the state governor, Bar. Ibrahim Shehu Shema, who would present it to the northern governors meeting.
He said: â€œIf the South rejects zoning, all parties will go for primary and if PDP and the federal might rejects or edged out northern candidate, we will vote in a northern candidate in any other party.â€
Retired generals divided
Speaking on the raging controversy, a retired General from Kano State who spoke under condition of anonymity, said: â€œThe overwhelming population of the North including â€˜Talakawasâ€™ were not really bothered about whether the President is Jonathan in 2011, or whether he came from the South.
All they are concerned about is provision of good leadership, infrastructure, that there is power supply; that their children could go to good schools and not sit under trees in the hot sun and that there is employment for the teeming jobless youths in the North.â€
He added: â€œSince my retirement from service, I got some loans added to the little money I saved, andÂ the pension benefits I received, and started a small business.
Do you know that the business which of course is keeping scores of youths in my area busy is being threatened because there is never power supply? We run on diesel almost 24 hours and at a cost of about N5, 000 daily. Calculate the amount in a month. It is killing.
â€œThis is just one example out of many other problems the so-called northerners are facing. The question now, is how did we get to this messy situation when the people that have ruled this nation for decades are this almighty North?â€
However, another retired General who is a top PDP chieftain, told Vanguard that zoning is a â€˜sine qua nonâ€™ if the power problems and mistrust that had dogged the nation and hindered its development were to be finally laid to rest.