By OUR REPORTER
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential aspirant, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, says President Goodluck Jonathan can contest the presidency of Nigeria but not on the platform of PDP because he is not qualified to do so.
Atiku also told Sunday Vanguard that he is not averse to Jonathan’s participation in the race in so far as he does so on any other platform or a coalition of platforms.
According to him, he never argued against the decision of Jonathan to seek the presidency of the country.
He added that the 1999 Constitution, as amended, affords the president the right to seek to return to the office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria.
But, he stressed that the point of departure was merely “that the zoning arrangement in our party frowns at his participation at a time like this.
“As responsible members of a political party, we know that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says that every Nigerian who is qualified to contest for the office of President can contest but we all come under one platform called PDP,” the presidential contender and former vice-president, who spoke through the Director- General of his campaign organisation, Senator Ben Obi, said in an interview with Sunday Vanguard.
“We have to respect the rules of that party before we jump out to say we want to obey other rules because, in this country, once you are in authority, people are always afraid of telling you the gospel truth and it takes only a few people to tell you that this is not right.
“It is based on the fact that some of us came together in 2006 to fight against the tenure elongation of Obasanjo.
“If we had kept quiet, today, there would not be a question of talking about zoning or no zoning which some people are now claiming that they are free to contest and they can do ABC or D.
“There is nothing that is holding us back on what we can say or what we cannot say regarding zoning or no zoning. It is clear in our constitution,” he added.
Continuing, he made it clear that “the judgment is that the party has a constitution. The incumbent has a right to contest. Of course, we have not said he should not contest. We have never said so. Because the point is that there are other platforms. Those platforms do not have zoning and rotation in their constitutions.
“So, if he wants to oblige himself the constitution of Nigeria, I would prefer a situation where he does that on another platform. But the PDP platform where the constitution of the party provides for zoning arrangement should be respected.”
Asked about the practicability and the seeming incongruity in his proposition, he explained: “we tried it in 2007 when Atiku Abubakar decided to contest the presidency on the platform of the Action Congress, AC, as it then was known and the Supreme Court said he could, even as the sitting Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who came in as a PDP member.
“There are many parties and he (Jonathan) can collapse as many parties as he wants.”
* Full interview with Senator Obi next week.