S/East, North agree on zoning

By Henry Umoru

ABUJA—AS the debate on zoning in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, continues, the pro-zoning Northern Elders and Leaders Forum, NELF, yesterday, met with key leaders of the Southeast with a resolve to back zoning.

At the end of a meeting which lasted for over six hours at the Yar’Adua Centre, the groups noted that zoning and rotation must remain in the best interest of the country at this level of development.

They added that if the nation must move forward, zoning and rotation must remain as common features of Nigeria’s political system.

Reading the communiqué at the end of the meeting, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim who represented the Northern Leaders Political Forum, and Chyna Iwuanyanwu for the South East Consultative Forum, said it became imperative to support the North especially to complete the Yar’Adua ticket to pave way for them in 2015.

The position of the two groups came a day before the PDP National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting where it is expected that the party’s constitution would be amended to remove zoning and rotation of public offices.

Vanguard learnt that the meeting was called at the instance of the North to woo the people of the South East, just as they agreed never to work against the interest of each other.

Major setbacks

It was further learnt that a committee would be set up to superintend their positions.
Meantime,  moves to remove the  clause in the PDP Constitution that legalized zoning has suffered a major setback as the party’s National Caucus, yesterday night, failed to reach an agreement on the proposal.

It was gathered that the party’s stakeholders that attended the meeting including lawmakers and government officials disagreed over the proposal that the Section 7.2 ( c) of the PDP Constitution that endorsed zoning should be dumped during the forthcoming mini convention for constitutional amendment. It was also learnt that those clamouring for the jettisoning of the party’s internal zoning arrangement were asked to engage in wider consultations.

The North and South East meeting was attended by former President Ibrahim Babaginda, ex- Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Adamu Ciroma, Senator Daniel Saror, former Senate President Iyorchia Ayu, Audu Ogbe, Mustapha Shettima, Professor Ango Abdullahi, Senator Abubakar Mahdi, Professor Isa Mohammed; Senator Jibril Aminu; former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Gambo Jimeta, Air Vice Marshal Hamza Abdullahi (rtd), Alhaji Ozi Salami, among others from the North.

The Southeast had former Governor of Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo, former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, former Minister of Health, Professor Alphonsus BC Nwosu, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, former Chairman of Police Service Commission, Chief Simon Okeke,  former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Chief Dubem Onyia, former Minister of Health, Dr. Tim Menakaye, and Senator Ben Obi, among others.

The Southeast Elders and Northern Elders and Leaders Forum’s position was a departure from that of the Southeast governors that no Igbo son or daughter would contest the 2011 presidential election.

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