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2011: NORTHERN POLITICAL SUMMIT ENDORSES JONATHAN

By NBF News
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Jonathan
The much-publicized Northern Political Summit, put together, ostensibly to discuss the roadmap to 2011, ended yesterday with the endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan for the next presidential contest.

Prominent nother politicians, however, shunned the event, just as the three co-chairmen, Solomon Lar, Ambassador Hassan Adamu and Ambassador Shehu Malami, failed to agree on what later turned out to be the resolution of the organizers of the event on zoning.

Daily Sun findings revealed that apart from the North-East and North-Central that had a sizeable presence of delegates, the North-West largely boycotted the event, as the Minister of State for Information and Communications, Mr. Labaran Maku, had to labour hard to identify delegates from the North-West, particularly Kano and Katsina.

And even at that, only three delegates, largely made up of the Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso's faction of the party in Kano was recognized as being present at the event, while Zamfara State completely boycotted the event, as only the former Environment Minister, Colonel Bala Mande (rtd) was recognized. The governor of Zamfara State is Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida's son-in-law.

Once the summit kicked off at exactly 11.02 am, shortly after the Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, along with his entourage walked into the conference hall of the Kaduna International Trade Fair Complex, it was announced to the gathering that Lar would be making a presentation that would represent the aggregate views of the three co-chairmen.

Daily Sun, however, gathered that Malami had to protest over the arrangement, and in the end, each was allowed to bear his father's name, with only Lar, coming out clearly to state his position and insisted that the time was ripe to discard zoning.

While Ambassadors Malami and Adamu hinged on the fact that what the North should be discussing was about how to develop the region and ensured that the North had an agenda geared towards keeping Nigeria together, without jeopardizing the North's interest.

Both speakers were non-committal on the issue of zoning and 2011, with Adamu specifically saying 'we must develop an agenda for the peaceful development of the North. North is backward in virtually everything. Have we played our role as leaders? We will not discuss the ambitions of individuals here, but about what will develop the North.'

Before the co-chairmen spoke, the Kaduna State Governor, Yakowa had set the tone for the direction the organizers of the event wants the summit to take.

Delivering his welcome address, the governor insisted that whatever position the North wants to take on the issue of zoning, must be in tandem with the letters of the Nigerian Constitution, which, according to him, was supreme overall other arrangements that would be made or may have been made in the past.

'Many countries of the world are fast reviewing their positions with a view to being the first class players in the globalization arrangements where the dream of late Martin Luther King of looking forward some day to being in a nation where his little children would be judged by the content of their character and not the colour of their skin is holding sway.

'We in the North, in particular, and Nigerians in general, should be mindful of that and go for justice, unity and national integration of our country in this roadmap to 2011.

'Let me use this opportunity to thank God and thank the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, for lifting our own, Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo to the exalted position of the Vice President, which translated to my being uplifted to the position of the Kaduna governor, Yero, from being Finance Commissioner to the position of a Deputy Governor. We are truly humbled by this divine intervention and we accept that God gives power to whoever He wills and at the time He desires. Our roadmap to 2011 should, therefore, be divinely led for a one united Nigeria,' the governor added.

Lar said 'I am delighted to have the honour to serve as co-chairman of this historical summit. As we surveyed the various state delegations, we are deeply impressed with the high quality and spread of representation of each delegation.

'May I express our profound gratitude to state governors and leaders of delegations for this very impressive turn-out. In view of the matters before this summit, it is significant to remember the joy of singing Nigeria's first National Anthem as a member of Parliament some 50 years ago on our Independence Day. Great hopes were ignited, noble dreams were shared, and lofty ideals expressed.

'The nation has come a long way since then, but I sense that we are at a critical turning point in the nation-building. As a member of the Irikefe Panel on the Creation of States, I remember the very serious debates about how best to restructure Nigeria.

'Some of the issues were severely contentious, but dialogue resolved most of the issues, and the states have come to stay. Having had the honour to serve on the 1977/78 Constituent Assembly, one remembers the dynamic and often conflicting thought processes that informed the basic provisions of our Constitution.

'There were times that the debates were severely contentious, but peaceful dialogue helped to resolve such matters. As one of the founding fathers of the PDP, I remember clearly the basic considerations that the principle of zoning, and the interim nature of its application. Zoning was never meant to be a permanent feature of our democracy,' Lar added.

Each person was selected to speak on behalf of representatives of each of the three geo-political zones that make up the north. The three persons were: Chief Barnabas Gemade, former PDP National chairman, for North-Central; Alhaji Kaulaha Aliyu, member, PDP, Board of Trustees (BoT), for North-East and Senator Ibrahim Ida, for North-West.

Of the three representatives, only Senator Ida, who incidentally hails from Katsina State, was non-committal on the issue of zoning, as he only said 'power belongs to God and we shall support whoever that will give good governance and development to the north.'

In spite of the non-committal posture of some of the participants, the summit still went ahead to endorse Jonathan for 2011 election, insisting that the 2007 Yar'Adua/Jonathan ticket was a joint one and as such must subsist beyond 2011.

Reading the resolution, which was produced while the summit was still going on, without breaking into any technical session to deliberate on the issues raised, Prof Jerry Gana, who is the Chairman of the organizing committee, noted that the summit 'expressed unreserved desire of free, fair and credible election in Nigeria, and proceeded to call on the chairman , all commissioners of INEC to do everything in their power to ensure preparation for credible elections in Nigeria come 2011.

'The summit also called on the Federal Government to make adequate resources available through the electoral commission to ensure that free and fair and credible elections are conducted in Nigeria.

'The second major issue has to do with the economy, particularly the underdevelopment of the Northern part of Nigeria. But with the trend of expression by the summit for every effort to be made by those who hold the rein of power to use good governance to bring development to every sector of the economy of Northern part of Nigeria in terms of infrastructures, in terms of education, in terms of industries, in terms of employment, in terms of uplifting the lives of our people. The summit also resolved to hold a Northern economic summit, possibly next year to focus attention on the economic and social conditions of communities in the Northern part of Nigeria.

'The third issue is on the weighty and sensitive matter of power sharing and power rotation commonly referred to as zoning. In this regard, the summit considered and assessed the various positions, viewpoints and options together with related implication for the peace and stability of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The summit then resolved that the zoning produced the Presidency of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan.

'It is an inseparable ticket and therefore the demise of one has not invalidated the privileges of the remaining beneficiary of that zoning, and the summit therefore proceeded to call on the leadership of the PDP as follows, the summit resolved that the PDP leadership should allow the superior and reasoning of the Nigerian Constitution to guide the Party of producing guidelines and regulations on the conduct of primary so as to elect the presidential candidate. In the circumstances, the most viable option is what has been expressed so as to ensure that indeed under the conduct of the primary election the best candidate as already expressed by this summit is given the opportunity to run for the office of the President.'