ABUJAâ€” THE National Executive Committee, NEC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, ratified the decision of the Board of Trustees, BoT, and its extended caucus to sustain the zoning and rotation arrangement of the party, just as it said that President Goodluck Jonathan should contest for the 2011 Presidential election.
At the end of the NEC meeting, members agreed that zoning and rotation must remain in the best interest of the country at this level of development in line with the Partyâ€™s constitution .They also said that other persons can contest for the position at the partyâ€™s primaries as in 2003 when the likes of late Abubakar Rimi ran against former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The NEC members said that President Jonathan should contest and remain in office till 2015, because the present ticket was a continuation of late President Umaru Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s.
Rising from its 52nd National Executive Committee meeting held at the partyâ€™s conference hall, the members also killed the online registration project of the National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo.
The online registration project was flagged off by President Jonathan last Monday as part of Nwodoâ€™s reforms for the Party. The meeting which started at 1.40 pm with an opening prayer said by the former governor of Old Bendel State, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia after President Jonathan entered the venue of the meeting at 1.38 pm, ended at 6.30pm after what was termed a serious brainstorming and stormy session.
The party said that the issue of zoning must be adopted at all levels from the wards, local and state. Though, there was no briefing by the party at the end of the meeting, it was gathered that the meeting did not go smoothly as the governors reportedly confronted the national chairman of the party over his reforms which they described as not friendly to them.
Rationale behind reforms
Vanguard learnt that the National Chairman explained the rationale behind his reforms, but that he could not convince the governors.
It was also gathered that motion for the adoption of zoning and rotation staying in the party was moved by the Katsina State Governor and seconded by former Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, Chief Tony Anenih.
According to a source who was at the meeting, the governors and state chairmen of the party also said that the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party did not have the constitutional right to sack a state Executive of the party, stressing that such issues must be referred to NEC.
It was learnt that the dissolution of Ogun State Exco came up and the National Chairman made a u_turn and promised to visit Ogun State on Monday to meet with stakeholders of the party.
On the online registration, it was gathered that members including Governors Gabriel Suswan of Benue, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta and Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa spoke against it.
They reportedly argued that those in the rural areas might not be able to afford the N1,200 and that considering the time frame when the party is preparing for election, the project may not be possible.
Even when Chief Tony Anenih and Samuel Ogbemudia tried to defend the online registration project that it could work as a pilot scheme and be made to go side by side with the current mode of registration, the arguments still did not save the situation.
Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, reportedly moved a motion to rest the project and this was seconded by one of the PDP Chairmen from the South west, to finally lay the project to rest.
Nothing stops Jonathan from runningâ€”Nwodo
Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo said, yesterday, that nothing stopped President Goodluck Jonathan from running the 2011 presidential election.
He said that President Jonathan was currently enjoying a joint ticket of late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, adding that if the late President were to be alive today, he would have contested and rounded off in 2015.
Nwodo who spoke at the 52nd National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of the party, noted that contesting the 2011 presidential election was President Jonathanâ€™s entitlement.
He said: â€œThe PDP as a responsible organization is responsive to the spirit and letters of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which enjoins the practice of federal character in the distribution of public offices.
â€œThe misconception, accusations that PDP has abandoned zoning is very far from the truth. When our president emerged, he chose a northern Muslim as his vice president .
When the chairman resigned, he was replaced by another chairman from the south eastern zone. Our Senate president, speaker, deputy Senate president and deputy speaker are from different zones of the country.
â€œAt the state level, we encourage rotation of our governors among the three senatorial zones in our state. How then can PDP be said to have abandoned zoning or rotation?
In the 2011 presidential primaries, we were faced with unforeseen circumstances, which can only be likened to a national crisis we faced recently when our late President Umaru Musa Yar`Adua was ill and couldnâ€™t transfer power to the then Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
â€œThe country rose to the occasion and parliament successfully transmitted power to the vice president as actingPresident. In the zoning arrangement, we didnâ€™t envisage that a serving president would die in office, unfortunately we lost our dear president.
You will all recall that this scenario played out in the past in Adamawa State in the case of Atiku Abubakar and Boni Haruna. This was when Atiku Abubakar was nominated as the running mate to President Obasanjo.
â€œBoni Haruna, in spite of the court challenge to deny him that mandate was adjudged by the courts as right beneficiary of that ticket and he went on to do two terms as governor of Adamawa State. Today Dr. Goodluck Jonathan by the dictate of our constitution is exercising the term of a joint mandate, given by the people of our great country.
If our late president were alive today, we wouldnâ€™t be contesting his right to run for a second term under our national constitution. It was his entitlement.
â€œBut Dr. Jonathan who is part and parcel of that mandate has a right to contest the remaining of that joint ticket in 2011. This will, of course, not exclude any other aspirant from any part of the country from contesting the presidential primary, as it has become the custom of our party.â€
Nwodo who intimated NEC members of planned reforms for the party, especially in the areas of updating the manifesto, said: â€œIt has become imperative, due to the new Electoral Act to hold a special convention and bi-annual conference to update our party constitution before the primary election.
Already the constitutional amendment notices have gone out, but additional notices would follow to capture the changes in the Electoral Act and other areas.
â€œToday, we will be asking NEC to approve to roll out these reforms as the party has discussed the issue of zoning through the organs of the party and the informed view is that PDP has entrenched in its constitution zoning and rotation of public offices in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice.â€
Zoning debate a negation of Nigerian nationhoodâ€”Anyaoku
Meantime, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has described the raging zoning debate as a negation of Nigerian nationhood, saying that the zoning that occurred in 1998/99 was a unique national crisis engendered by June 12 annulment.
Anyaoku who likened the national response to cancellation of the June 12 presidential poll to a similar situation in Canada in 1968 said that insisting on zoning today was like re-applying a therapy that was used to cure a national ailment that had been treated.
He said: â€œFrom a national and non-partisan view point, I must warn that the ongoing zoning debate within the PDP is a negation of Nigerian nationhood. To all observers, it was clear that the zoning that occurred in 1998/99 was a direct response to the unique national crisis precipitated by the inexplicable annulment of the countryâ€™s hitherto most credible presidential election and the subsequent death of its acknowledged winner, MKO Abiola, in incarceration.
â€œThe crisis had taken Nigeria to the precipice of national disintegration and the two main political parties at the time wisely responded by selecting their presidential candidates from the seriously aggrieved geographical zone of the country.
â€œThis response was comparable to what happened in Canada in 1968 when in reaction to a similar threat to Canadaâ€™s continued existence as one polity by a secession movement in Quebec, the French speaking zone of the country, the out-going Prime Minister, Lester B Pearson, led the governing Liberal Party, to go over the heads of the established party leaders from the English-speaking zones to choose a young French_speaking politician, Pierre Trudeau, as the new Prime Minister in order to save the integrity of Canada.
â€œNigeria, like Canada, should by now have consigned both that unique and hopefully unrepeatable national crisis of 1993-98 to history.
To advocate zoning today, 50 years after our independence, is, therefore, like reintroducing a therapy that was applied to a national ailment which all patriotic citizens would regard as having been successfully treated with the reaffirmation of Nigerian nationhood over a decade ago.â€
Roll call at PDP NEC Meeting
President Goodluck Jonathan
Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo
Senate President David Mark
Speaker Dimeji Bankole
Dr. Alex Ekwueme
Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu
Chief Barnabas Gemade
Dr. Ahmadu Ali,
Prince Vincent Eze Ogbulafor
Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia
Chief Tony Anenih.
Chief Ebenezer Babatope
Professor Jerry Gana
Senator Walid Jibrin,
Senator Stella Omu,
MajGen Mohammadu Magoro (Rtd),
Sen. Abubakar Sodangi
Nana Aisha Kadiri
Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu,
Kassim Ibrahim Imam
Gov Emmanuel Uduaghan
Gov Babangida Aliyu,
Gov Isa Yuguda
Gov Godswill Akpabio,
Gov Rotimi Amaechi,
Gov Liyel Imoke,
Gov Sullivan Chime.
Gov Bukola Saraki
Gov Saidu Dakingari
Gov Ibrahim Shema
Gov Danjuma Goje
Gov Segun Oni,
Gov Timipre Sylva,
Gov Olagunsoye Oyinlola,
Gov Aliyu Shinkafi,
Gov Gbenga Daniel,
Gov Martin Elechi.
Gov Sule Lamido,
Gov Akwe Doma,
Gov Murtala Nyako,
Dep Gov Ramallan Yero
Dep Gov Paullen Tallen
Hajia Hauwa Kida
Mrs Christy Silas,
Hajia Rabi Murktar Mohammed
Senator Nicholas Ugbane,
Senator Osita Izunaso,
Senator Lee Maeba,