By NBF News

After sifting and weighing the implication of the statement of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on zoning, leaders of the Northern Leaders Forum (NLF) pushing for the zoning of offices have concluded that the party has decided that the presidency should remain in the North until 2015.

There were different meanings read to the position of the PDP since the NEC took a stand on zoning and rotation last week.

PDP National Chairman, Okwesileze Nwodo, said that the party decided that President Goodluck Jonathan could contest the 2011 election because he was completing a ticket given to the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Also, the PDP chairman said that any other party member was free to contest for the position of president in 2011.

But the Chairman of the NLF, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, told Daily Sun yesterday that the implication of the position of the NEC was that the presidency remained in the North. Indeed, the NLF leaders were very pleased with the position of the party.

He gave two different meanings to the position of the PDP. According to him, the first import of the position of the party was that any Nigerian that was qualified to run should feel free to contest the 2011 election, which is in conformity with the position of the Northern governors. Mallam Ciroma emphasized the fact that the party had not endorsed the candidacy of President Jonathan.

The second meaning was that rotation and zoning remained the guiding principle of the party.

He said: 'The decision of the NEC has two sides to it: The first is that any Nigerian, according to the constitution and the electoral law, can contest. It is incontrovertible. It is not an endorsement for the President to run. It is also not an endorsement for anyone. That can only come after the national convention.

'Secondly, the position of the party is that zoning and rotation remain the guiding policy of the party. There is nothing to dispute about it. We, who are pro-zoning, are happy with it.'

When told that former PDP chairman Chief Solomon Lar, gave a different interpretation to the NEC position when he told reporters that President Jonathan was given the nod, Mallam Ciroma said: ' I am not going to take on Solomon Lar, I am not going to say anything against him. Whatever he said, quote him.'

He emphasized the fact that the party had made it very clear that the Presidency remains in the North, adding that if the party conformed with its decision, there should be no dispute as to who must produce the next president.

'If zoning and rotation policy are to remain, it means the North has it.'

When Daily Sun contacted a member of the NEC that took the decision for the true interpretation of the position of the party, he said: 'The truth is that the party on that day gave the ticket to Jonathan. All other comments are political. That statement you refer to was made to please all shades of opinion within the party.'

But the Secretary-General of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Chief Willy Ezugwu, criticised the PDP, saying that the party spoke from both sides of the mouth.

He said: 'All parties adopted zoning. The PDP said zoning remains and the President can run which means other people from other places can run. The PDP has not finished dealing with this country. They talk from both sides of the mouth. They are deceiving Nigerians. They are using all of us like tools. What they have said is that Jonathan should run, but others can run like Abubakar Rimi and Barnabas Gemade did against Obasanjo in 2003.'