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ZONING: DON'T CRY FOR US

By NBF News

Peoples Democratic party (PDP), National Vice Chairman (North West), Dr. Danladi Sankara, has written off other political parties in the country. According to him, none of them posed a threat to the ruling party. He also allayed fears over the zoning controversy. He maintained that the PDP could, and had the capacity, to resolve its own challenges regarding zoning, without the inputs of outsiders, many of whom he stated, were working for the opposition.

Excerpts:
Sir, you have been silent of late, not really being available for interviews as you used to be. What really is the matter?

You are welcome. Well, you know there is time for everything. Remember that the general election is fast approaching and considering the enormity of the issues at stake, I have been devoting most of my time to working out the strategies to ensure an effective co-ordination of the seven states under the North-West zone of the country for the purpose of the upcoming elections, with the primary objective of enhancing the chances of PDP, to enable the party to register comprehensive victory at the polls, and at all levels.

When I say at all levels, I really mean it. And honestly, we are making steady progress, real progress as we are systematically working hard to resolve all pending issues in the various states with a view to making the desired impact of winning the elections in all the seven states of the North-West Zone.

There were series of press reports and lengthy interviews by some Northern leaders threatening to kill the PDP over the raging issues of zoning and rotational presidency in 2011.

Do you think they can really kill the PDP?
First of all, all those you refer to as Northern leaders, who are threatening the PDP in the papers, if I must tell you, were speaking for themselves. It is an empty threat. The people making all the noise are not even members of the PDP. You confess that you are not a member of a political party, then how come you take it upon yourself to indulge in raising dust over an issue that is purely and squarely a PDP affair? Let me tell you the truth, all those who claim to be speaking for the North over the issue of zoning and rotational presidency have all along, since 1998, been working tirelessly against the interest of the PDP.

They are very well known enemies of the party. I believe that they are nursing a false belief that they could overheat the issues of zoning, rotation or whatever, to achieve their sinister motives among which include that of crippling the PDP this time around. It is a tal1 order or expectation that cannot be achieved.

When you take a more serious look at the activities and utterances of those parading themselves as the northern leaders under the various platforms and guises, you discover elements of mischief in the sense that they now appear to be like the sympathizer who is weeping much louder than the bereaved.

Contrary to the expectation of those beating war drums and threatening the PDP, the party is now much stronger and united. The PDP is in full control of 16 northern states, with only three in the hands of the opposition.

With all sense of modesty and responsibility, I declare categorically that the whole 19 northern states will be won by the PDP in 2011 general election. You do not require the service of soothsayers to re-confirm to you that PDP will clear all the states and all other elective offices in Nigeria in 2011. All the signs of a comprehensive victory in favour of the party are already manifesting right now.

I sincerely advise those people making inflammatory statements to exercise extreme caution. They should be responsible enough to resist the temptation of fighting proxy wars, because of the grave danger they constitute to democracy and peace of the nation through unguided statements.

The issue of zoning has continued to overheat the polity. And the debate is: should President Jonathan contest the presidency on the platform of the PDP or not. What is the true situation?

Well, let me say that the matter is purely ours. The issue is purely and entirely a PDP affair. It is strange that a lot of people that are not even members of the PDP and do not share its sympathies have dissipated more time and energy than the bona fide members to stoke the fire in arguments and counter-arguments on the issue. I have the feeling that enemies of the party in concert with the opposition think they can use the issue to destroy the PDP. The plot cannot work. It has failed. This is because the party is united. I have said it several times that PDP as a credible political party has a time-tested internal conflict resolution mechanism. We can resolve our issues by ourselves without external interference.

What is the way out of the present logjam?
It is not late for people of good conscience to sit down together and discuss the issue with the aim of removing doubts, suspicions and bad blood generated by the activities of the political opportunists who attempted to create distrust and disaffection between the North and the good people of the South over this contentious matter.

Secondly, the PDP is a responsible political party and I can tell that it is equal to the task of resolving the issues concerning the 2011 presidential election. This will be done under the atmosphere of understanding for the purpose of unity, progress and development of the nation.

We are determined to resolve all the issues amicably and conclusively.

Sir, with the lingering tension across the country over the case for zoning or otherwise in 2011, how do you see the future of democracy, or indeed the continued existence of Nigeria as a united country?

I have never doubted our capacity as a people and as a nation to overcome serious challenges. Let me remind you that the factors which unite the various peoples of Nigeria , by far, outweigh those that tend to divide them. It is unfortunate that some people with limited historical background of Nigeria, who at one time or the other found themselves in positions of leadership have always been the major problem of this our great nation. And the truth is that, in the event Nigeria breaks up, which will never happen in any case, the same trouble makers will be the worse for it.

My candid advice, therefore, is that we should fear God, and fear the repercussion or the anger of people you unjustifiably perceive as weak. This is because there is every tendency that when the chips are down, you may end up regretting the earlier contempt you have for such people.

I believe also that democracy would be sustained in Nigeria notwithstanding the present challenges. These challenges are all part of the process towards stronger unity and true greatness.

With all these squabbles in the PDP, don't you think that the opposition would take the advantage of the misgivings to rout your party at the polls in 2011?

Which opposition? Where is the opposition you are talking about? Are they in this country or else where? They have since abandoned their roles of providing credible checks to the PDP and have instead, pre-occupied themselves with quarrelling with each other over which provisions of the PDP constitution should be enforced and which one should be discarded. Can you imagine that?