By Donu Kogbara
I HEAR that IBB has written to Dr Nwodo, the PDP Chairman, to say that he and many other members may resign from the PDP in protest if the party does not prevent President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting in next year’s election.
According to a news report I’ve just read, IBB’s exact words were: “…Some controversies have, for some time now, arisen over the decision to jettison the principle of zoning as enshrined in the Constitution of the Party.
It is my view and, I believe, of many public spirited, patriotic and responsible members of our Party, that to do so would violate the provisions of section 7.2 (c) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, which provides as follows…
“In pursuance of the principles 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.’ “
IBB went on to point out that after Hon. Justice L.H. Gummi, Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, had presided over a case (Sani Aminu Dutsinma V Peoples Democratic Party) that required him to interpret the segments of the PDP Constitution that cover zoning and rotation issues. Gummi concluded that section 7.2(c) was clear, unambiguous, subsisting and binding.
To cut a long story short, IBB is insisting that Nwodo, Jonathan and his other senior PDP colleagues do their “duty” and comply with – and enforce – the above judgement, which was delivered on December l.
A failure to comply and enforce will, according to IBB’s letter, be a gross violation and tantamount to rejecting and actively opposing Paragraph 2(c) of the PDP Constitution’s Preamble, which provides for the creation of ‘socio-political conditions conducive to natural peace and unity by ensuring fair and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities to conform with the principle of power shift and power sharing by rotating key political offices amongst the diverse peoples of our country and devolving powers equitably between the Federal, state and local governments in the spirit of federalism.’
You may have noticed that since this contentious election season opened, I have avoided unnecessary abuse of any candidate, largely because I think that all of the key players have good qualities as well as faults…but also because various Vanguard readers have, at intervals throughout this year, described my support for Jonathan as “excessive”, “fanatical”, “sectional”, etc; and since journalists are supposed to be objective, I don’t want to be accused of crudely attacking Jonathan’s rivals simply because they are not fellow Niger Deltans.
But I must say that IBB’s latest stance takes the biscuit, given his track record (his notorious decision to annul the June l2, 1993 polls and his refusal to show up at the Justice Oputa Panel hearing being examples of occasions on which he has not respected rules, obeyed senior judges or taken elections seriously!).
Sure, people can change. A former dictator can become a dedicated democrat. But IBB has not proved that his outlook has been radically transformed; and some of us are understandably reluctant to share his view that he is qualified to loudly and sanctimoniously bellyache about real or perceived political injustices.
Furthermore, I have just gone online to the PDP’s official website and checked out the sections of the Party Constitution to which IBB referred in his letter to Nwodo; and these sections do not explicitly state that the presidency should rotate from South to North and back again, or that each Northern head of state should enjoy eight full years of power before a Southerner can take over. The sections in question only mention rotation in general and rather vague terms
I hear that a more specific, time-bound North-South zoning “gentlemen’s agreement” was hammered out at a meeting attended by PDP stalwarts.
But I really don’t care what they had in mind when they discussed their internal laws because Nigeria is bigger than the PDP; and I feel that we all need to grow up and quit inflicting ethno-religious prejudices on each other in this day and age.
I myself have been guilty of regional bigotry in the past. But I have gradually evolved away from that narrow, intellectually deficient, morally questionable mindset; and I now think that we should learn how to forget about where candidates come from and focus on what they can do for this ailing nation.
IBB should abandon his spurious fixation and concentrate on worthier issues. Even if I was convinced that there is merit in the zoning concept, I would still wonder why zones that have run the show pretty incompetently for 36 out of the past 50 years are imperiously demanding precedence (for the umpteenth time) over a zone that has patiently supported the North on numerous occasions, produces most of Nigeria’s wealth and has never had a “turn” before.
I would – trust me! – have made this point even if I wasn’t from the South-South. I would also have urged you to NOT vote for my “brother” Jonathan if I was sure that he was an irredeemably lousy candidate who had nothing to offer.