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Zoning: Anti-Jonathan rally aborted in Borno

By Ndahi Marama

MAIDUGURI — A peaceful rally billed for Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, weekend, to urge President Goodluck Jonathan not to contest the 2011 presidential election in respect of the zoning arrangement of the Peoples’ Democratic Party was aborted by the security agencies.

The Arewa Youths Development Foundation, organisers of the aborted rally, said it has mobilised its members from some parts of the north to converge in Maiduguri, weekend,for the planned rally, regretting that “the event was put off in the last minute” due to the inability of the group to secure permission from the state police commissioner Ibrahim Abdul.

Borno State chairman of the group, Usman Salisu Mustapha, told journalists that the police had refused to grant the permit because of the perceived security threats in the state and rumoured resurgence of the Boko Haram sect.

Mustapha disclosed that the youths had wanted to demonstrate peacefully and then walk to the Government House to present a letter which contained the “position of Borno State youths on power rotation or zoning for the 2011 elections” to the governor. The letter, he noted, was meant to be delivered to the next forum of northern governors slated for 22nd of this month.  

He said the group’s position was that President Goodluck Jonathan should not contest in next year’s presidential poll in the interest of fairness and political justice. He maintained that rather, the north should produce presidential candidates in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, or other major parties.

The youth movement noted that the on-going debate on zoning should not have commenced, had President Jonathan shown clear intention to embrace the initial zoning formula purportedly reached by some politicians in 1999 which made the south produce President Olusegun Obasanjo who served for eight years.

The chairman maintained that it was only fair that the incumbent president allow the north to conclude its eight years rule, having lost its representative, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The group cited the choice of Namadi Sambo, former Kaduna State governor for the Vice President seat, adding that the choice clearly shows that President Jonathan subscribes to zoning arrangement. 

“If President Jonathan regards zoning as unconstitutional, why didn’t he choose his Vice President from either the south east or west ?” he asked.


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