By NBF News

Abia State coordinator of Goodluck -Sambo Solidarity Network (GOSASON), Gburugburu Eze Eke has said that only the continuity in office of President Goodluck Jonathan and his deputy, Namadi Sambo will bring the desired transformation of the country. In an interview with Saturday Sun , Eke who is a certified mediator and President of African Forum for Conflicts Resolution and Family Integration (AFCRAFI), noted that President Goodluck Jonathan stands shoulder high above the other presidential aspirants not only in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but in other parties and that is why Nigerians from all ethnic groups are heaving a sigh of relief since he declared to run for 2011 presidency last month.

He said Jonathan has the magic wand to position the country on the path of greatness. He also posited that the cry of marginalization by the Igbo would be history with the emergence of Jonathan as president on May 29, 2011. According to him, the President has already started addressing the perceived marginalization and injustice meted out to the Igbo race.

Zoning is an idea whose time has passed
Zoning of the Presidency as being clamoured by some politicians shouldn't be an issue again. The nation is in this movement and no motion situation because of zoning. What should be given to the right person for result to be achieved is sacrificed on the altar of zoning. If we continue this way, we will further go down the abyss and the rest of the world would leave us behind. We should consign zoning to history because it is an idea whose time has passed.

What the country needs now is result and anybody that can deliver this country from the present parlous state to a glorious height should be supported beyond boundaries. This is why progressives and right thinking Nigerians from all the ethnic groups are behind President Goodluck Jonathan. Any politician who is worth his or her onions should not be talking of zoning in this 21st century when other nations are exploring the space. Such a politician should be talking of what he has to offer to the people and not hiding under the cloak of zoning to get party nomination and win election without any programme for the country. That is why the nation has not moved forward after 50 years of independence. This time around, we are going to take a bold step and get it right for the first time. Ethnic jingoists and politicians that have lost relevance are the ones fanning the embers of zoning and ethnicity to hold the nation down. When the zoning or ethnicity card fails, they resort to religion to drive home their sentiments.

Even in our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), if zoning is enshrined in its constitution, it has not been implemented and I don't see why it should start now. In 2003, when they said that it was the turn of the South to produce the president, why did late Abubakar Rimi contest? Was it not at the same time that then Vice President Atiku Abubakar wanted to contest against his boss in the office until both of them reached an agreement? If there was zoning, why did the party allow Southern aspirants in 2007? Obasanjo narrowly missed nominating Donlad Duke, Peter Odili or Sam Egwu to succeed him? Taking you back to 1999, if there was zoning, no northerner would have contested the primary election in PDP. Late Abubakar Rimi contested the primary in PDP. Wasn't he a northerner? I don't like delving into this issue of rotation and zoning so that one would not be seen as ethnic jingoist. Even at that, Nigeria is tripod - east, north and the west. If you are talking of zoning, where is the east today? The Igbo man should have come out to say it was his turn and Yar'Adua would not have the chance in the first place because the Igbo would have agitated so much that it was his turn to rule. I'm saying that Nigeria has come of age and this time whoever is qualified should be supported to rule.

Some ethnic jingoist introduced zoning and they fanned up this sentiment. When things are not working the ways they want they also fall back to religion. But in today's Nigeria, such issue shouldn't even come up. It has been shown that it is not the region that has the presidential power. Example: for the 50 years of Nigeria's independence, the north has ruled for 35 years. Did this long reign translate to the development of the north? No. Would you say that it was the Yoruba that enjoyed the Obasanjo's eight years? No. At the time Obasanjo left office, the road to Ota was in bad shape like other roads in the country. Jonathan coming on board is not coming to represent his people but coming to rule Nigeria and we should all support him. People should jettison all the ethnic tendencies and other things that divide us and come out to support Jonathan and Sambo.

The wise men that drafted Nigeria's Constitution realized the folly of zoning and why it should apply in the presidency in a multi ethnic nation like Nigeria. If you are an ethnic jingoist, there is no guarantee that when you sit down waiting for your turn that you would ever get access to the presidency in a nation that has over 350 ethnic groups. Does it mean that the presidency must rotate among all these ethnic groups in Nigeria on four-year tenure? It is not possible. A good man can come from any ethnic group to rule. Things are changing and the youths are coming up. It doesn't in any way mean that if a northerner or southerner is ruling he would use the entire national resources to develop his area leaving other regions. What we need is good governance.

Why many Jonathan- Sambo groups?
These groups that are supporting the President and his deputy for 2011 are spontaneous reactions to the positive political development in the country. A good product doesn't need much advertisement as it naturally markets itself. Jonathan and Sambo are very good products and very marketable. The few months they have been in the saddle the country has started moving towards development. Members of these groups are mainly the Nigerian youths who want to support the youthful president and his equally youthful deputy to write and shape the destiny of the great nation. Some other aspirants have had the opportunity of shaping the country but they couldn't. We saw a person who knew he still has a long way to go and wants to put things on ground for posterity. Most of these groups operate at local government, state and regional levels. We have branches in all the states and I'm the Abia State coordinator. As time goes on all the other groups are likely going to fuse for proper coordination.

We are mobilizing the grassroots and others to support these young and great men that are piloting the affairs of this nation and for them to come back in 2011 and complete the good works they have started. What is driving us is not what we are going to get but what Nigeria would get. The organization is made up of professionals and we are the sole financiers.

What will be the stake of the Igbo in 2015 if they support Jonathan in 2011?

As I said earlier, zoning should be consigned to the dustbin and anyone who is qualified irrespective of where he or she comes from should be supported. We have seen that the Igbos to a large extent could be said to have credible people even more than other ethnic groups and if we should put our acts together and present our first eleven, the rest of the country would support us in 2015. The think tank that came up with sound economic policies during the regime of Obasanjo was made up of the Igbo and Nigerians acknowledged that. What the Igbo should do is to support Jonathan and Sambo as well as reject zoning. Unfortunately, some Igbo are the apostles of zoning because they don't read between the lines. If they did, they would have realized that supporting Jonathan for 2011 offers them a better platform to actualize their 2015 dream. Even now, Jonathan has started to address the perceived marginalization of the Igbo. With the appointment of an Igbo man, Maj. Gen. Ihejirika, as the Chief of Army Staff, a position we last held 44 years ago, shows that Jonathan is poised to address the injustice done to the Igbo in the polity and that is just a tip of the iceberg of what the Igbos stand to benefit by supporting Dr Jonathan's presidential bid.

I am advising other aspirants trying to deceive the Igbo to join an unpopular cause to go home and allow the people to be part of the God- given opportunity to be reintegrated into the Nigeria's politics. The truth of the matter is that both the Igbo and 'the beleaguered nation searching for a leader to bail her out of her present doldrums will see more light if Jonathan is allowed to continue beyond May 29,2010. Within a short time, the president has succeeded in stabilising the supply of petroleum products, thereby bringing respite to the hitherto chaotic situation that created scarcity and continuous rise in prices. It has never happened that the pump price of fuel in the Southeast is the same as Lagos and Abuja. Electricity is getting stable and the president is working assiduously to put in place an electoral process that can stand the test of time, a process that will allow Nigerian electorate to speak during elections. If Jonathan were not sincere, he would not pick Attahiru Jega, a northerner to head Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) instead of picking somebody from South east or south south. He believes that there is nothing to fear. Jega is not somebody you can push around to declare a loser the winner. This appointment shows that the president and his deputy are for electoral reforms and they want election to be one man one vote. He promised credible election in 2011. If he was afraid of anything, he wouldn't have appointed a person of Jega's pedigree.'

On Nigeria at 50
Thank God that we are still one after the civil war and other upheavals in the country. As a matter fact, we are not where we should be given the quantum of resources in terms of personnel, natural resources and others. We should lay the blame on the leadership we have had over the years. We don't have any excuse not to succeed. Look at the state of our roads, health, education and energy etc. if successive leaders were focused and far sighted, we should not be crying of poor infrastructure. Diseases that are already extinct in other climes still exist here - cholera, polio and tuberculosis. The rate of graduate unemployment is frightening. When you look at all these problems, you may think that there is no hope but on balance, there is a great hope for the country. God is beginning afresh with Nigeria from 2011, when Jonathan whom He has ordained for Nigeria will mount the saddle.

Another factor is that Nigeria is running a very expensive type of government - the presidential system. We copied it from America that has the resources to run it. More than half of our national earnings go into running the government. The sad aspect of it is that some people in power will steal the remaining that is supposed to be used for national development. It is not a PDP matter. Nigerians have to change their attitude.