The Adamawa State Government’s Position On The PDP Zoning Arrangement


29 July 2010

By Abdulkareem Yakubu

Just few months to the next general elections in Nigeria, the political climate in the Country is gradually heating up to a crescendo with all the political parties and their gladiators getting set for the pre-election activities and the election proper.  

What has taken the central stage of public discourse at this crucial period of the nation’s political history is the zoning arrangement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The issue of zoning or no zoning of the office of the President of Nigeria has generated or is generating what the Adamawa state chapter of Northern Political Leader’s Forum refers to as ‘unnecessary and unhealthy anxiety in the land’.  

So much has been written and said about this issue which makes me believe that there is nothing I would be contributing to the subject matter which has not been noted or pointed out by political analysts, the politicians, political scientists and the likes.  

However what prompted this write-up is the reported or publicized position taken by the Adamawa state government on this issue of zoning. I really find it difficult to comprehend where they actually stand on the matter as what transpired during the stakeholders meeting of the Party at the government house in Yola and their proclamation of support to President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja against the 2011 election appeared to be at variance.  

The stakeholders meeting which was held on 19th July 2010 was well attended by the members of the faction led by Alhaji Umaru Mijinyawa Kugama which expectedly comprised of members of the State Executive Council, the Legislature and other Political office holders in the state.  

It is noteworthy to state that at the time this meeting was taking place at the government house Yola, a similar meeting was also taking place at the Lamido Cinema by the Adamawa state chapter of the Northern Political Leader’s Forum.  

It is equally interesting to note that the two meetings were held with a view of lending their voices to the issue of zoning in the PDP. The Northern Political Leader’s Forum called on politicians and other stakeholders in the country to respect the political agreement of the PDP and allow the principle of zoning to run its full course.  

The other meeting which took place at the government house appeared to be towing the line of the very foundation in which the PDP was laid as regards to the issue of zoning arrangement of the Party. But the declaration of their support to President Goodluck Jonathan for the 2011 election got me confused on where they actually stand on the issue.  

The state governor, Vice-Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd) had during his keynote address (copies were made available) at the opening of the stakeholders meeting noted that ‘zoning of political offices is not in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, nor in the Electoral Law, but the underlying principle of Federal Character enshrined in our Constitution is certainly zoning’.  

To buttress their stand on the issue of zoning, the governor went ahead and stated that the recent replacement of Prince Vincent Ogbulafor as the National Chairman of the PDP with Dr. Okwesilizie Nwodo is a clear manifestation of the zoning principle of the Party.  

According to him, the key leaders of the Party had in their wisdom stated in the Pre-amble of the PDP Constitution that:-  

1. Recognizing that many years of military dictatorship in Nigeria resulted in the gross erosion of fundamental human rights and rule of law; recognizing the need to raise the nation to moral and intellectual dignity , recreate civil political institutions; reconcile and unite our various peoples  and rekindle in ourselves the spirit of brotherhood, confront social decay, remedy existing evils in the moral, social and political condition of the country and arouse ourselves to desired state of consciousness to build a prosperous and lasting democracy.

 

2. In response to these challenges, leaders of likeminded political associations, roused to a sense of their duty to the nation, assembled in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on 28th day of July, 1998 and resolved:  

© 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 amongst the diverse peoples of our country and devolving powers equitably between the Federal, State and Local Governments in the spirit of federalism.  

The governor who observed that the system of zoning as agreed upon by the PDP permits the rotation of the candidature of the Party for the Presidential Election from the North to the South also added that the above undertakings were meant to strengthen the internal cohesion of the country.  

While enumerating the gains of the zoning arrangement of the PDP, Governor Murtala Nyako stressed that the greatest beneficiary of the arrangement is Nigeria while the second greatest beneficiary according to him is the Southern part of the country.  

The governor drew an analogy of the zoning arrangement as it applies to Adamawa state wherein he stated that if not for the zoning system, the central zone of the state would in most instances (if not in all cases) be producing the governors of the state. He therefore stated that the zoning arrangement ensures that every segment of the society is carried along.  

Governor Nyako who stated that the PDP zoning agreement is now in its first cycle noted that the first half of the cycle was occupied by the South, the second half by the North. But the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua before completing the cycle has raised the question on whether or not the agreement should be observed.  

Some of the salient and unanswered questioned raised during the meeting were; should the PDP now abandon the zoning agreement? ‘Are we also ready to throw away the Federal Character principle in our Country’?  

It is really astonishing to watch on the Network news of the NTA on 20th & 21st July, 2010 that the PDP government of Adamawa state is in support of President Goodluck Jonathan to be the Party’s Presidential flag bearer for the 2011 election.  

This I believe negates the principle of zoning as agreed upon by their Party which they appeared to be championing during the stakeholders meeting in Yola a day earlier. One begins to wonder what informed this sudden change of position on the issue of zoning because by declaring their support to President Goodluck Jonathan, they are invariably not comfortable with the zoning system of the Party.  

It is now left for the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Party to decide on the course of action to take on the issue because according to Governor Murtala Nyako, ‘PDP has been a source of stability of the Country by its recognition of sensitivities of all Nigerian groups inherent in its zoning arrangement. It now has to come to an amicable course of action on the zoning issue otherwise that might be the beginning of its end as a Party of first choice to the electorates/politicians’.  

 

Abdulkareem Yakubu is a Yola-based journalist working with Radio Gotel, Jimeta-Yola, Adamawa state. He can be contacted through abdulkareemykb@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

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