Abuja â€” Organisers of the Northern Political Summit under the aegis of Chief Solomon Lar-led G20 (19 northern states and Abuja) yesterday warned that the country risked being thrown into a deeper socio-political crisis if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) used zoning to prevent President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting the presidency in the 2011 elections.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, chairman of the group and former minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, warned that the country must not allow other considerations to play down the threat the exclusion of Jonathan could pose to the country’s security and stability.
According to him, the northern political summit was of the opinion that “the subsisting zoning that produced the presidency of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan must be regarded as an inseparable ticket and the demise of one member of ticket does not invalidate the privileges of the remaining beneficiary.”
Gana said in adopting this strategy, “The north would have once more provided a pragmatic solution to a fundamental cause of crisis in the Niger Delta, arising from years of neglect.
“Since by divine providence a son of the Niger Delta has become president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, any attempt to use zoning to hinder the fulfilment of a perceived God-given opportunity to lead Nigeria would only lead the nation into deeper crisis. We must not allow other considerations to trivialise this threat to national security and stability,” Prof. Gana warned.
Gana who was flanked by the former minister of the federal capital territory, Engr. Abba Gana; Senator Isa Maina, former minister of environment, Col. Bala Mande, minister of state for interior, Humphrey Abba as well as other prominent northern political leaders traced the genesis of the zoning arrangement in the PDP and pointed out that it was adopted “primarily as a strategy for resolving a national crisis arising from the annulment of the June 12 presidential elections.”
He added, “Now that another challenge has arisen following the sad death of our former president, wisdom demands that fresh options be assessed and considered on the basis of prevailing national exigencies.”
While reiterating the position adopted by the northern political leaders summit in Kaduna, Gana said, it was the opinion of the leaders that “a logical application of the zoning formula lacks both the profundity and efficacy to resolve the complex problems created by the death of our former president and therefore resolved to appeal to the PDP leadership to allow the superior provisions of the Nigerian constitution to guide the party in producing the guidelines and regulations for the conduct of party primaries to elect its presidential candidate.
According to him, “In the circumstances, the summit recommends that the most viable option was to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible primaries, so as to allow the emergence of the very best candidate for the office of the president.”
The former minister of Information further stated that even in the struggle for political power in the country, ‘the people of the Niger Delta have always stood by the north when it mattered most. It is on record that they supported the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) to form the federal government during the first republic. It is also on record that the cooperation they gave the NPN gave the party victory in 1979. At an even deeper level, when the unity of the federal republic of Nigeria was most threatened, the people of the Niger Delta stood for national unity.