By Emeka Mamah & Henry Umoru
KADUNA—AREWA Consultative Forum, ACF, and the Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF, yesterday, took President Goodluck Jonathan to task over his claim that the zoning policy of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, does not apply to the offices of the President and the Vice President.
They said the President was undermining the nation’s constitution and democracy.
The ACF in a statement, after a meeting of its National Working Committee in Kaduna, presided over by the group’s Deputy Chairman, Alhaji Saidu Barda said: “ACF is alarmed by the statement made by the President, Dr. Jonathan, insisting that the policy of zoning and rotation of the PDP does not apply to the office of the President of Nigeria.”
The statement which was signed by ACF National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani, read: “It seems obvious that the President’s statement is an intention to abrogate some key aspects of the Constitution of the PDP. Given his position as leader of the party and head of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Dr. Jonathan’s statement has the capacity to alter most of the ground-rules of electioneering contest not only in PDP but also in other political parties as well.
“Leaders of the PDP should urgently meet to either accept the position of Jonathan or jettison it, so that the nation will know the direction of the party. The advice by elders in the North is that all parties continue with the zoning and rotation and make it applicable to all political offices in the 2011 polls.
“The PDP can accept President Jonathan’s claims and then proceed to expunge the relevant clauses in the PDP Constitution which requires that the party adheres to the policy of zoning and rotation of offices or in the alternative, the party can reject Mr. President’s postulation, affirm the requirements for rotation/zoning more clearly, and therefore ask President Jonathan to excuse himself from the party and seek election in 2011 under another political party which does not have similar constraints.
“President Jonathan’s justification of his decision to run in 2011 with the idea that some aspirants did so in both 2003 and 2007 is not correct. It is not correct in the sense that in 2003 few aspirants from the North indicated their interest to run but the party refunded their money with which they had purchased nomination forms.”
Jonathan undermining the nation’s Constitution
The Northern Political Leaders Forum, on its part, accused President Jonathan of undermining the nation’s constitution and democracy against the backdrop of what they described as his desperate bid to retain power.
The forum said it was drawing the attention of Nigerians and the international community “to the steady rise of political intolerance by the Jonathan administration.”
The statement said: “In sharp contrast to the Umaru Yar’Adua era, President Jonathan is openly undermining the Nigerian Constitution and Democracy in his desperate bid to retain power.
Recently, he falsified history by declaring openly that zoning in the PDP does not include the office of President and the Vice-President.
“Section 7.2c of the PDP constitution states clearly that in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels. It does not give exception to the offices of the President and Vice-President. ”
Jonathan lied- Atiku
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar accused President Goodluck Jonathan of not saying the truth on the controversial issue of zoning, just as he said that Jonathan was there when a vote was taken on the matter and rotation adopted.
In a statement issued by his Campaign Organization, Atiku Abubakar noted that it was surprising that “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was conspicuously present at the December 2, 2002 enlarged caucus meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, where the agreement to share power between North and South was taken”.
He noted that under that agreement, those in attendance including Jonathan, then a former Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, resolved after voting to rotate the presidency on the basis of eight years each between the North and South.
Atiku who expressed surprise and shock that President Jonathan will now claim ignorance of such agreement “for the sake of his ambition to run in 2011,” said: “The President should have been honourable and courageous enough to own up to his participation in the formulation of a major party power sharing formula.
“The ambition to rule at all costs should not make us abandon the path of honour by denying a decision that has enthroned stability and unity in our body politic.”
I will not be intimidated -Jonathan
Reacting to the mounting criticisms especially from the North, President Jonathan vowed, yesterday, that he cannot be intimidated by anybody as the race for the 2011 Presidential election was on.
President Jonathan who was reacting to the Northern Political Leaders Forum that accused him of undermining the nation’s constitution and democracy because of what they described as his desperate bid to retain power, said their statements simply bordered on sheer blackmail and political mischief.
A statement signed by the Director of Media and Publicity, Goodluck Jonathan/Namadi Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization, Sully Abu said: “The attention of the Goodluck Jonathan/ Namadi Sambo Campaign organization has been drawn to a series of wild allegations by the self-styled Northern Political Leaders Forum, which border on sheer blackmail and political mischief.
“Allegations of the involvement of the government of President Jonathan in actions which the Forum claimed were “capable of undermining democracy and the country’s Constitution” have become characteristic.
“The allegations were designed to impugn the integrity of the President. In that endeavour, the Forum is bound to fail woefully in the eyes of right-thinking Nigerians.
We wonder what these political leaders want to bequeath to the country if they insist on fouling the political atmosphere by overheating the polity through tendentious accusations. We call on all Nigerians to ignore such tantrums.”