CHOICE OF ATIKU, GOOD â€“ ISA AJIYA, EX-TARABA SPEAKER
Atiku as North's consensus candidate
First and foremost, I want to commend the wise men for a job well done. In my own opinion, I think they consulted widely and wisely. Widely in the sense that they covered the entire northern region, and wisely in the sense that the most appropriate person to my mind was chosen as a consensus candidate for the North.
Secondly, I want to commend the spirit exhibited by the other aspirants in accepting the position of the northern elders because it is not easy for somebody to down play his interest for the overall interest of the region, and the country at large. The right aspirant was chosen based on his track records.
In my mind, Atiku had an upper hand over the other three PDP aspirants from the northern region. I want to also congratulate the Turaki Adamawa for the victory, and also urge him to double his efforts so that he would emerge as the PDP standard bearer in the 2011 presidential election.
Basis for choice of Atiku
There is no reason why this decision would be that of entire northern people. But honestly, it reflects the minds of the majority of the people, not only of the northern stock but even the country because the wise men's consultation did not stop in the North alone.
They consulted even with people from the other regions so as to know the acceptability of the aspirants from the North. So, there is no way that Turaki's choice would be the ultimate choice of the entire people of the North. But in any case, I am assuring you, it reflects the minds of the entire people of the country not just the northern region.
First and foremost, I disagree that the wise men are from PDP alone. They cut across other political parties. Some of them are from the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), some are from Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), some from the PDP and some are not even from any political party at all. Some had even retired from active politics.
This is a decision that brought them together, and in any case, their decision is not binding. There are other political parties, and the decision of the wise men does not stop other political parties from fielding in candidates for the presidential election. All they are trying to do is to encourage the so-called zoning. That does not stop Mohammadu Buhari from contesting under CPC or any other candidate from the North. They agreed that among the four aspirants anybody that is not satisfied with the decision can opt out and contest on another political platform.
That was why they consulted beyond the northern region alone.This thing emanated from the fact that the northern regions are still agitating that the zoning arrangement does not die with the demise of former President Yar'Adua. They want continuity since the southern zone, represented by former President Obasanjo ruled this country for eight years. It is their expectation that the North will rule this country for another eight years, before it would go back to the South.
Unfortunately, Yar'Adua died after three years in office. And by virtue of the provision in our constitution, President Goodluck Jonathan took over to finish the remaining one year. So we are of the opinion that the North should continue for another four years. That is to complete the slot for the northern zone. They are not trying to promote regional politics, rather they are trying to present things in the right perspective. It is not the northern region alone that would vote, it is the entire country. So, we are presenting Turaki. While Jonathan is coming out from the South. There are other candidates that would emerge from the other zones. Thereafter, one would emerge, and the person that would emerge must have the votes of the entire country.
Level playing field
Whether we like it or not, there is awareness in this country. There are reforms even within the electoral system. So, whether PDP likes it or not, it must create a level playing field. For the first time in PDP, presidential election would take place in states, not in Abuja as it used to be. So also, the governorship primaries would take place in all the local governments and not in the state capitals as it used to be. To some extent, there is a level playing field. So there must be reform in the PDP, not only in the PDP, but all the political parties must be reformed, so that they would create a level playing ground.
I don't see Turaki as a selfish person in this country. I see him as a detribalized person and a symbol of democracy. The fact that Turaki has been yearning to be the president of this country, does not make him a selfish person. It is his right. It is also your right and my right. If I have the means to contest for the presidency or whatever position in this country or in this state. Turaki has the means, he has the experience, his relationship cuts across the thirty-six states including Abuja.
So, If you have that experience, and you have the means, it does not make you selfish, If you try to express your desire through a democratic means. Turaki is not trying to stage a coup. He is desiring to contest under a political party and under a democratic arrangement. So I don't look at it as something selfish. It is unfortunate that some people look at Turaki because of the problems he had with his former boss President Obasanjo as being over ambitious.
It is not like that. If Turaki wanted to outstage Obasanjo, he would have done that in 2003, when the entire PDP governors then, wanted him to take over from Obasanjo, but he resisted. That was service to the nation, that was service to the party, and that was service to humanity.