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ZONING: IBB, ATIKU NOT QUALIFIED TO RUN – OKUPE

By NBF News
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Okupe
Dr Doyin Okupe was former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct National Republican Convention, [NRC] he was also Special Adviser, Media to former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Okupe is one of the anti-zoning proponents who had been squealing against the position of leading Northern politicians that the rotation of power, as entrenched in the PDP Constitution cannot be discarded by the party.

He spoke last Tuesday in Abuja with newsmen. Daily Sun was there.

We bring you excerpts:
What do you have against the consensus option which the North had chosen to pick candidate of Northern extraction for the PDP presidential ticket?

The consensus candidate that Malam Adamu Ciroma has been advocating for and has become a crusader is a very dangerous trend, in a democracy, because we have never had a situation like this before where a particular region will make it compulsory and try by all means possible to bring just one candidate, as if he is going to work with all other regions.

It isn't right; it is something that should be randomly condemned by all. Leaders, particularly from the North should call Adamu Ciroma to order. That at this stage of his life, he shouldn't do things.. if he has not been able to  help Nigeria to develop, he  shouldn't not at the later years of his life destroy Nigeria.

When you pick a Northern consensus candidate and you have to go and contest, what do you expect the Southern candidate, or southern leaders to do? They must accept whatever you have chosen? This Northern candidate, are they going to be Northern president, or arethey going to be voted for only in the North?

These are issues that are begging for answers and people aren't really asking Mallam Adamu Ciroma. Democracy should be played according to the rules of the game and I think we have a constitution that guides us according to the rules of the game.

Anything that is extra- constitutional should be condemned by all of us. It isn't right.

I think and I believe very, very strongly that Mallam Adamu Ciroma and his group are still holding on to this doctrine of North- for-North, South- for South, which has lost application. It has no meaning in modern day Nigeria. If we are still working on such a platform then we should actually be discussing how to dismember the country.

If you must galvanise an entire section of the country so as to bring one candidate in the contest against some imaginary enemy, then the thing is moving from a political game into a national warfare and I don't think that's the whole idea. That's why I felt that the statement that was also made to the effect that, if President Jonathan emerged at the PDP primary, the Northerners in the party would leave en masse. That a joke! It is idiotic, because, if Jonathan now goes ahead, in spite of that to win the general election, would Northerners now troop out of the country?

So, what exactly is Adamu Ciroma up to?
These are issues that one feels requires the intervention of well intentioned Nigerians, all over the country to quickly wade in.

I think people like Obasanjo, Sheu Shagari, people like General Yakubu Gowon should talk. I have restrained myself from making any comment because of the age and respect that one has for Mallam Adamu Ciroma, but those who are to take the bull by the horns …the Yoruba has this adage that when elders are on ground, evil don't thrive.

People like Ciroma cannot do what they want.
But don't you think PDP has breached an agreement and that's why Ciroma has been shouting and trying to redress, or fight?

Let me tell you something. It is painful that people has refused.. we must go by  the laws that we made ourselves, or the law that we agreed to rule us.

We can not live in a  vacuum, or we can not live or pretend to live in a jungle. The so called gentleman agreement is of no consequence, whatsoever.

So called agreement? In the PDP constitution, there is zoning.

Yes, there is  and there must be zoning and I am in support, hundred percent , but it should be limited to what is in that constitution. Section 7.2[c] says that party and elective offices shall be zoned and rotated, but it did not say that any section would have two terms. It didn't say so. It is the Nigerian constitution that allows a sitting president to have a second term. You cannot have a second term by proxy and the zoning is done to a particular zone or region. The truth of the matter is that, if we follow zoning, IBB and Atiku are out of the equation.

How do you mean?
Because the presidency was zoned to North west. If we pick IBB and

Atiku, let us be fair ; if we pick  IBB or Atiku, which law in Nigeria will prevent them from having a second term? Now, if they now have a second term that means the north has had three teems, as against two!

So, don't let us talk about things that aren't realistic or talk about things that aren't backed by law. The gentleman's was contrived by a body that has no power to do so—it was the national caucus of the party. The roles and functions of the national caucus are clearly defined in the constitution. It has only two roles: it can only advice the government and settle dispute between the government and the legislator and the party.

So, if a body performed an assignment that is beyond its powers, how can you make it binding? If people really wanted it really to be binding, they know the process to follow. Everybody knows that there are only two organs of the party that can make binding laws: the NEC, or the National Convention.

Why did they not take that gentlemen agreement, over  a period of  four or five years, why didn't they take it to NEC?

What you and I know was that neither the PDP Constitution, or the Nigerian Constitution was prepared for the death of the president. We weren't prepared for it and we have no constitutional provision to take care of such an unexpected development.

In that situation, we were guided by the existing laws and we have to amend them, accordingly in order to make it justifiable in future.

But don't you thing that particular agreement was just a 'bomb' to create confusion?

No, it wasn't a 'bomb', it is an emotional thing. You see, it also proved the point I was trying to make. When Obasanjo finished his first term and wanted to go for second term, he knew that there was no provision for second term in the PDP constitution, it was obvious. So, if he wanted to have second term, he needed the consensus and the support of the party machinery so he summoned the party machinery and said, ''gentlemen, I want a second term in exercise of my right as a sitting president, under the Nigerian constitution.'

That was the situation. A dead president doesn't have such right!

But who is to blame for the inability of the party leadership, particularly at that top echelon?

They don't even understand it. The party machinery doesn't even understand this fact that I am talking to you about. They don't even understand and you cannot explain what you don't understand, but this is the truth. Check the two constitution, check the two documents, my argument are unassailable. It is a fact and that's what the whole country is being blackmailed into and that's why irrendentism is now emerging in the North, because people are now being made to feel that they are being raped, or that their right are being taken from them.

It is wrong.
But when you said Ciroma was trying to incite the north against the rest of the country, by working for a consensus candidate from the North; have you forgotten that there was a south-south gathering, where Jonathan was adopted as the candidate of the South-south?

No, if IBB is contesting election, Atiku is contesting election, and Ciroma and his group said that, as far as we are concerned, we support Atiku, no problem.

Do you understand?
But for you to be going round to say that we are going to consult everybody, we are going to force everybody to accept one candidate, against the rest of the country is wrong.

You said, Atiku and IBB have no right to contest, if we stand by zoning.

Yes, because Atiku is from the North east, IBB is from the North central.

But you just said that, if it is either Atiku, or IBB No, don't quote it out of contest. It is in the contest of the question he was asking me that I gave that answer.

What I am saying is that we have never, ever done this. Nobody has ever campaigned for the whole of the south, to say, ''look drop your interest, let us go and confront the North. It has never happened before and mark my words, it is fraught with danger for the North.

It may affect the development of the zone, because by the time you pick the socalled consensus candidate and he loses election, what does that portend? If you win, goodluck; but if he loses. The North will be doomed.

How do you mean?
Well, this is being done under the pretext that if they pick a northern candidate the zone would win and the whole of the political weight and machinery of the north is going to be put behind such candidate. If you now do all that and he fails, that means the rest of the country has called the bluff of that region, entirely.

What I am even going to advocate now is this: should any aspirant be picked by Ciroma, that aspirant will never become the president of Nigeria, because we will work against him, we will pray against him, we will not allow Nigerians to support a candidate that is picked by a clique in a particular section of the country and to make him president of the country. It will not come to stand.

Any aspirant from the North that is picked by Ciroma and his group.

When you say, ''we'; which group, or section of the country are you holding brief for?

You know me, you know my political antecedent. I am what I am by the grace of God in this country. I have political linkages, I have friends, all over the country. These are the people I am calling 'we'; it isn't me as a person and as I talk to you, I am not speaking just as one person. I have made consultations and it goes beyond PDP.

I don't want you to speak in abstract; let it be in specific terms; what is your platform?

Those who know me know the company I keep and the platform I am speaking for. I am saying that we will oppose the candidate, we will work against the candidate, we will go on our knees and pray against that candidate.

Is Obasanjo in support of this position you are canvassing?

But you know I just came back from overseas.. so, I have no idea about his position.

Are you disclaiming Obasanjo?
No, I am just telling you, this is purely my idea and I think that at this level and this age of mine in Nigeria politics, I have paid my dues. I have dome thirty two years in this game and Obasanjo himself haven't done thirty two years  in Nigeria politics. Ask him.