PDP PRIMARIES: OPTION BEFORE ATIKU, BY DAVID-WEST
Former Oil Minister, Prof. Tam David-West, has expressed disappointment over the disclosure by ex-Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, that he was disposed to dialogue instead of a legal challenge of the nomination of President Goodluck Jonathan as the Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) candidate in the April presidential elections.
To David-West, such posture amounts to a compromise and a disservice both to Atiku himself, and the nation. Arguing that the former vice president has a good case in insisting that Jonathan was unqualified to get the PDP ticket, based on the party's zoning policy, the former minister said abandoning the legal option would mean Atiku shirking his obligation and responsibility to defending the cause of justice and deepening the nation's democracy.
Said David-West: 'There are fundamental issues to be decided here. We need to know whether the constitutions of political parties are mere scraps of paper to be torn and thrown away and derogated at the whims and caprices of some persons. I say, no! Because just like the constitution of the country, a fundamental document of the state, parties constitutions are the groundnum. Article 7 2C of the PDP constitution imposes a burden on the party to respect its zoning formula. Even governor Sule Lamido said it before, that for Jonathan to contest, the PDP constitution must be changed. The PDP Governors Forum said it. The PDP national executive said it. All the three court rulings on the dispute declared that although Jonathan can contest like any other Nigerian whose right is guaranteed by the constitution, PDP must abide by zoning in choosing its standard bearer. That's what they all said.'
The ex-minister argues that the PDP primary election which produced Jonathan breached these rulings and that there was every need to contest it.
'I know it may be argued that the court cleared the president, but the point is, Justice Bello of the Abuja High Court who gave the final ruling made it clear that PDP was bound by its constitution. What should not be missed is that, at the particular time of the ruling, the primary was not yet on, so, no one had suffered any injury to warrant asking for relief.
That was why the judge said they can both go and contest. But after the so-called primary, Atiku has suffered injury, because the whole process was manipulated against him and the party's constitution and so, he can seek redress,' David-West said.
He dismissed as 'fraudulent' the argument that the provision of the PDP constitution is counter to the Nigerian constitution. 'That is a non-argument. It is sophistry because all the signatories were aware of the Nigerian constitution before they signed and Jonathan's signature was there too. They are morally and legally liable for their action, except, of course, they can prove that they signed at the point of insanity, or show that they signed it under duress. In the absence of this, they are bound by it.'
Expressing disgust at what he called the worrisome body language of the former VP, David-West asked Atiku to contest the outcome of the PDP primary up to Supreme Court for the future sanity of the system stressing: 'Atiku is not yet defeated. He's defeated only to the extent he believes he is defeated. If the Supreme Court rules that party documents are sacrosanct and must be respected, that means Jonathan steps down for him. It means the PDP primary election was a nullity.'
But, more importantly, he wants him to do it as a mark of greater responsibility he owed the nation to always defend justice, which he notes is a sine qua non for peace.
'He should take a cue from General Muhammadu Buhari (retd). Buhari has contributed greatly to ensuring electoral sanity by contesting his manipulated defeat in the 2003 and 2007 presidential elections, up to the Supreme Court. Thanks to him, the court confirmed that votes in Ogun State were false, thanks to him, the Supreme Court ruled that all ballot papers for presidential elections must be serialised,' said David-West.