By Carol Ajie
Front page report of a national newspaper on Friday 10 September 2010 with the caption:“Jonathan, Contest Election, Face Court Action; Atiku Group Warns President” refers. As a civil and political rights advocate and an active Nigerian, I feel constrained to respond to the unlawful threats issued by Atiku’s Group against the person and office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, before it spills off the cusp and unduly overheat the polity.
Every citizen of Nigeria by birth who has attained the minimum age of forty years, and is a member of a political party, sponsored by his/her party shall be qualified for election to the office of the President. Hence it is the constitutional and inalienable right of all eligible Nigerians such as Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to aspire to lead or continue to lead this great country in furtherance of the provisions of section 131 of our nation’s grundnorm, the Constitution.
This hallowed Constitutional provision not having jettisoned zoning or abandon the rationale behind the principles of zoning and Federal Character intended to promote an equitable formula for the distribution of all cadres of posts including the office of the President. Therefore Article 7.2 ( c ) of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Constitution which states that “in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of zoning of the party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committees at all levels”, is in order because it was not promulgated to demote or derogate from Superior Laws.
Zoning could be productive and indeed it is, once we do not apply it to override International Laws, the Nigerian Constitution, principles of equity, good conscience and natural justice. Zoning is laid on a rotational flap, hence it cannot be static, it is indeed subject to periodic review, re-arrangement and or re-structure to meet political, civil and social exigencies always bearing in mind that the only thing constant in life is change.
A zoning formula drawn in 2007 by way of a gentleman’s agreement, may not apply in 2011 if the circumstances that compelled a 2007 arrangement had crashed. What this translates to is that in 2007, PDP agreed a President of Northern extraction in the person of Musa Yar Adua.
Through no act or fault of men or women, the man died, his Vice President Jonathan from South South stepped into his shoes and became sworn in as President to complete his first term of four years as mandated by the Nigerian Constitution. Now that we have 2011 election knocking at the corner, this successor who comes from an oil producing zone, the goose that lays the golden egg, a zone that never hitherto produced a President, a man imbibed with certain leadership attributes, our bridge-builder, wants to his own term, and a former Vice President Atiku says he cannot?
That would be absurd, unconstitutional, unlawful, wrongful and against all principles of natural justice, equity, Federal Character and PDP zoning rule which entrenches equity and justice.
What PDP should do and it would be fair and right, is to give the presidential ticket to Dr Goodluck in 2011 free of further controversies; set up a zoning arrangement that would give the Vice Presidential slot to someone outside the South South zone, e.g. Vice President Sambo, Dr Jonathan had occupied it previously; ditto for Secretary to the Federal Government zone it outside S’South, same for Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and so on, PDP’s National Executive Committee should forthwith arrange all key offices following the 2011 presidential rotational formula giving the President to the South South.
That way the letters and spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the PDP Constitution would be implemented without a breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR, of 1976, acceded and ratified by Nigeria in 1993, by attempting to stop an eligible candidate and a sitting President from continuing to sit on a providential divine chair, when ICCPR had recognized that in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all men and women shall enjoy their civil and political rights and freedom.