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2011: NORTHERN, SOUTH-SOUTH LEADERS DISAGREE AGAIN

By NBF News

Ahead of today's public declaration of intention to contest the presidency in 2011 by President Goodluck Jonathan, a meeting between the Northern political leaders and their Southern counterparts to resolve the zoning controversy so as to often the ground for the President's ambition has ended in a deadlock.

The South-South leaders led to the meeting in Abuja on Thursday by elder statesman, Edwin Clark and Northern political leaders led by Mallam Adamu Ciroma could not found a common ground on the need to concede the presidency to the South in the 2011.

While the Northern leaders has been laying claim to the right to retain the presidency till 2015, the South-South political leaders feel that President Goodluck Jonathan should continue. The leaders after hours of parley held at Shehu Musa Yar'Adua centre rose without any concrete agreement on the contentious issue.

Rather the two sides resolved to allow the political parties to conduct their primaries the way they like without insistence on where the presidency should go.

The meeting sources revealed was part of continuing efforts by the South-South aimed at reaching out to the North to pacify it to allow President Jonathan continue till 2015 by contesting the presidency next year, a position the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had already taken.

However, the two sides agreed to cease open confrontations on the zoning matter so as to douse tension, which the contradictory hard-line positions taken by the leaders of the two geo-political zones had caused among the peoples of the regions.

Addressing newsmen at the end of the meeting, the secretary of the Northern Consultative Forum, Bashir Yussuf Ibrahim and the coordinating secretary for the South-South Peoples Assembly, Dr. Bolere Kebutu said the meeting was cordial, frank and peaceful.

They explained that the meeting appreciated the acrimony the 2011 general elections seems to have generated especially the issue of zoning and that 'is the need to mend fences between the people of the North and South/South people of the South.

To this end, the spokespersons noted that the two sides have decided to allow political parties to pursue their programmes for nominations for positions.

Furthermore, the zonal leaders, according to the secretaries, have resolved to put on hold further meetings until after all aspirants across the political parties must have declared their ambitions.

They however declined to take questions from inquisitive journalists who sought clarification as they insisted that fielding questions was not part of their brief.

At the meeting were: Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Chief Edwin Clark, the conveners, Tonye Douglas, Lawan Kaita, Yahaya Gwandu Mohammed Bello Kirifi, Yakassai Tanko, Dr. Bolere Ketubu, Laila Dogonyaro, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, Rhoda Ako, Salih Hassan, Bashir Dalhatu, Dr. Enyametin Ijem, and Chief Nwuche Chibudom. Also in attendance were Col. J. T. Bendeger, Maj. Gen. Idris Garba, Prof. Isa Mohammed, Bello Sabo Abdukadir, Bar. Moses Alegher, Hon. Suleiman Ibrahim, Hon. Ibrahim Kaita, Alh. Yaya Abubakar, Ibrahim Waiya, Idogesti Nkaya, Yahaya Kwande, Gen. Idris Garba and many others.

Meanwhile no less than 20 governors of the PDP are already in Abuja for the declaration by President Jonathan.

Also thousands of PDP stalwarts belong to the over 100 pro-Jonathan groups have arrived the capital city for the event taking place at the Eagles Square, Abuja.

Saturday Sun gathered that the massive crowd garnered by Ibrahim Babangida during his declaration has posed a serious challenge to President Jonathan, hence the decision to mobilize all the groups to ensure their members attend the event.

As at press time, virtually all hotels in Abuja and its satellite towns have been taken over by the groups' members in preparation for the public declaration.