Jonathan May Shelve U.S. Visit Over Security Threat In Nigeria
Barring last minute change of plan, President Goodluck Jonathan may not attend the series of activities that have been lined up for him in the United States next week due to the rising tension in Nigeria over his plan to contest the 2011 election in defiance of a zoning arrangement in his party, PDP. The tension which is gradually pitching the Muslim North against the Christian South has of late generated several security reports indicating that imminent crisis looms in the most populous black nation. The North controlled military set up in the country was last week reshuffled by President Jonathan to favour a seeming control by the South.
iReports-ng gathered that the increasing threat of a sponsored break down of law and other in the country may have informed the decision of the president to stay back in Nigeria to take full charge of the delicate situation. A source in the presidential villa in Abuja told iReports-ng on the phone Saturday evening that “Mr President’s attendance of the United Nations events slated for New York is not certain yet because of a lot of issues back home. You know he just declared for election today, he has to firm up a lot of arrangements and also ensure the security situation at home is reliable. But then we can totally rule out his attendance as anything can still happen.”
With the thick cloud of uncertainty over the possibility of the president attending the UN meetings, the Nigerian mission to the UN has come under immense pressure from the UN secretariat due to their inability to provide an authentic itinerary of the Nigerian leader to the world body. The pressure and uncertainty have forced the Nigerian permanent representative to the UN, Prof Joy Ugwu to call for a meeting of top officials of the mission by 4pm New York local time to deliberate on their predicament. Some of the events already lined up for the president to attend include the UN general assembly meeting which he is billed to address most likely on Tuesday. Mr Jonathan is also due to address world leaders at the MDGs summit during the UNGA meeting. Apart from this, sources in the Nigerian house mission office also confirmed to iReports-ng that the Nigerian leader has been slated to among other world leaders address a world press conference and the Colombia University world leaders summit, all in New York.
A source in Abuja hinted that the country’s foreign affairs minister, Odein Ajumougobia may likely be sent to represent the president in the event that Mr Jonathan cannot make it down here. The president’s camp has been locked in a battle of wit and supremacy with the main Northern leaders group, G-15 over which part of the country of over 150 million people should produce the next president during the 2011 elections. The G-15 led by a veteran politician and one time finance minister, Adamu Ciroma on Friday released a strong statement to warn the president and the PDP of the inherent danger of trying to stop the North from keeping the number one seat for another four years.
Their warning letter reads:
RE: REQUEST FOR DECLARATION TO RESERVE THE PDP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION FOR NORTHERN ASPIRANTS AND TO RESTRAIN PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE 2010 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY AS AN ASPIRANT.
Dear Sir: As you know, Article7, section 7.2(c) of our Party’s constitution prescribed that, in pursuant 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’. This provision had been earlier enunciated and in fact reinforced by Preamble 2(c) of same constitution, which states in part that, ‘ to create socio-political conditions conducive to national peace and unity by ensuring fair and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, to conform with the principles of power shift and power sharing by rotating key political offices among the diverse peoples of our country and evolving powers equitably between the Federal, State and Local Governments in the spirit of Federalism’.
Pursuant to the aforesaid provisions, the Party zoned the Presidency to the SOUTH for eight (8) uninterrupted years. This two term tenure was completed by a SOUTHERNER, in the person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, from 1999 to 2007 under the Obasanjo/Atiku ticket. At all times during the Obasanjo/Atiku ticket, the record reflects that it was Obasanjo from the SOUTH that our Party nominated as its Presidential candidate. At the same time, Atiku, a northerner of Obasanjo’s choice, was nominated by the Party as the Vice Presidential candidate. Indeed, at the end of Obasanjo/Atiku two term ticket, the Party rotated its Presidential and Vice Presidential tickets and zoned it to the NORTH and SOUTH respectively for the same two terms enjoyed by the Obasanjo/Atiku ticket. This, we believe, is in compliance with the controlling provisions of Article 7.2(c) and Preamble 2(c) of our Party’s constitution. Consistent with earlier applied modalities for the actualization of the referenced constitutional provisions, the Party nominated Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua from the NORTH as it’s Presidential candidate and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan from the SOUTH chosen by Yar’adua, as the Vice Presidential candidate. This tenure began in 2007 as the Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket. It was to end in 2015. Unfortunately, this two term tenure of NORTHERN Presidency was punctuated by the untimely death of President Yar’adua. (May his soul rest in perfect peace-Amen) mid way to the completion of the first term tenure. In strict obedience to the dictates of the Constitution of our country, Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as President to complete the remaining years of the first term tenure.
Your Excellency, the first term tenure of the two term Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket will soon come to an end. It is now time for our Party to conduct it’s primary elections to nominate it’s Presidential and Vice presidential candidates for the second tenure of the two term tenure of Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket, which is expected to begin in 2011 and end in 2015. Under existing electoral law, it is in this 2010 that our Party is required to nominate it’s Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. If we follow our Party’s practice and constitution, which we must, the Party must nominate a NORTHERNER as our Presidential candidate and a SOUTHERNER as our Vice Presidential candidate because the existing Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket zoned to the NORTH not the SOUTH. To do otherwise would amount to injustice and the violation of our Party’s grundnorm. We make bold to remind you Sir, that by all implications, a NORTHERN ticket means that a NORTHERNER should be nominated the Party’s Presidential ticket. To us, Yar’adua was nominated to fulfill the rotation of power to the NORTH. The fact that he died midway did not in any way terminate the total number of uninterrupted years which the North is entitled to enjoy. Nor did it obfuscate the right of the NORTH to field a replacement candidate.
The rotation of power to the NORTHERN zone is not personal to Yar’adua. It is for the entire NORTH. Common sense and reason requires that this understanding be maintained and respected by the Party. To our shock and dismay, although there are some individuals from the NORTH aspiring to earn the nomination of our Party to complete the second term of the NORTHERN ticket, the intention of President Goodluck Jonathan to wrongly use the power of incumbency, to arm twist Party members, usurp, misappropriate and confiscate this NORTHERN ticket has now been confirmed by his intention to declare interest to run for President. Understandably, there is now widespread anger, not just within the Party , but also throughout the country, over this clear infringement of our Party’s ground rules. The evidence suggests that the Party leadership may be encouraging this infringement and this constitute great danger to peace, security and stability of our country. We fear that if President Jonathan’s plot succeeds, it will divide and dislocate our beloved Party. It will also cause irreparable damage to the peace and oneness of our country. It will constitute an assault on reason and gross injustice to the North.
Indeed, we notice that the spectre of danger and controversy has been heightened by the decision of the Party on zoning as reflected in the Resolution of the 52nd meeting of the National Executive Committee of our Party held on August 12, 2010. In paragraph 17, page 8 of the said Resolution, the Party endorsed the constitutional provisions dealing with zoning, power sharing and rotation. Specifically, it stated that ‘NEC took time to review the origin and essence of the zoning principle as enshrined in the PDP constitution. In view of historical antecedents and contemporary realities and in order to ensure justice, equity and fairness, NEC unanimously endorsed the retention of the zoning principle in the PDP Constitution’. However, the clarity of this endorsement appears to have been muddied by paragraph 18 of the same resolution. That paragraph stated that ‘NEC also observed that President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR is serving out the first four year term of the joint ticket with late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and therefore has a right to contest for the remaining four year term of their joint ticket in 2011’ . Continuing, the Resolution further said that ‘NEC however resolved that this will not of course exclude any other Nigerian from any part of the country from contesting the Presidential primaries for the 2011 General Elections’.
The ambiguity and double-speak thrown up by these paragraphs behoves the Party to provide further clarification and ascertain the true meaning of Article 7.2(c) and Preamble 2(c) of our party’s constitution as it concerns the second tenure of the two term NORTHERN ticket signified by existing Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket. In our view, the full import of Article 7.2(c) of our Party constitution is that whenever the Presidency shifts to a geo-political zone (in this case the NORTH) by rotation, all other zones are excluded by implication and convention from producing the Presidential candidate of the Party until and unless the duration of the shift/rotation is exhausted. In the present case, that the SOUTH enjoyed an eight (8) year two term Presidential rotation under Obasanjo/Atiku ticket is not in dispute. That the two term period was fully exhausted before the Party rotated the ticket back to the NORTH under the Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket also not in dispute. That in each case and at each election time, the Party nominated its Presidential candidate from the geo-political zone enjoying the in exhausted ticket is a settled tradition. That Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket is a NORTHERN ticket is beyond doubt. That the rotation period of the Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket must subsist in the second tenure is irrefutable. That had Yar’adua been alive today, the Party would have been under obligation to continue the NORTHERN ticket and it would have been the right of Yar’adua, or any aspirant from the North, to keep or replace President Jonathan as his running mate.
Given that President Jonathan comes from the SOUTH, it is inconceivable that the Party should nominate him as the Party’s Presidential candidate to complete the second term of a NORTHERN ticket, especially where, as in this case, there are other ready, willing and able Northern aspirants in the Party. The NORTHERN ticket did not cease or terminate with the death of Yar’adua. On the contrary, it continues in the NORTH for the Northern aspirants. President Jonathan is incompetent to inherit the Northern ticket under our Party’s constitution because he is NOT from the North. We find it sufficient to note here that, unlike in the elevation of the then Vice President Jonathan to substitute Yar’adua as President (when he died) for the uncompleted first term tenure of the Yar’adua/Jonathan ticket, there is no credible argument which will otherwise trump the sustenance of the NORTHERN ticket. The Party constitution and internal arrangement in this matter is supported by precedent. Therefore, by reason, convention or constitution of our Party, the choice of the Presidential candidate of the party for the 2011 election remains the exclusive preserve of the NORTH, and the Party is under obligation to nominate a NORTHERNER as its Presidential candidate.
Accordingly, we herewith demand that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through its appropriate organ, issue a superseding resolution within two (2) weeks from date, clarifying the noted ambiguity, and declaring its intention to nominate a NORTHERNER from the pool of its NORTHERN PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANTS as its Presidential candidate for the 2011 general elections. Furthermore, we demand that the Party issues a declaration, restraining President Goodluck Jonathan from participating and presenting himself as an aspirant in the 2010 PDP Presidential primary election. Our demand is informed by a deep sense of commitment to preservation of PDP and the universal call for justice, fairness, peace, unity and stability of our country. Above all, we are extremely worried that our Party’s failure to deliver justice in this matter, may ignite a series of events, the scope and magnitude of which we can neither proximate nor contain. The peace, stability and unity of our country are superior to the personal ambition of one man. This stability and the corporate existence of our Party are all at stake and we urge you to grant our prayers. In the event however that the Party dismisses our plea or fails to act, please take notice that in addition to other legitimate measures, we will, in concert with other aggrieved members, take any and all actions warranted by Law to obtain justice in this matter. Kindly consider this letter as a grievance under Article 21.2(1)(111) and (iv) of our Party’s 2009 Constitution as amended.
We thank you, Your Excellency, Sir, for this opportunity. May God bless you and our country, Nigeria.
For and On Behalf of Concerned Members,
Adamu Ciroma, MFR, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu Alhaji Lawal Kaita (Madakin Fika), Alhaji Bello Kirfi, CON ,Amb. Yahaya Kwande, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim (Wazirin Bauchi)