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ZONING: MAKE A SPECIAL CASE FOR JONATHAN, JEMIBEWON TELLS PDP

By NBF News

Former Minister of Police Affairs and member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT), General David Jemibewon has called on the PDP leaders to devise a means to accommodate the speculated presidential ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, Jemibewon, a member of G-15, a coalition of prominent politicians of northern extraction agitating for the retention of the contentious zoning arrangement in the PDP, appealed to the party stakeholders 'to make a special case for the present situation.'

While he acknowledged that zoning was a PDP affair, the former minister, however, called for discussions at the appropriate levels of the party machinery.

'There is no doubt in my mind that those who argue for or against zoning have some good points. However, we must remember that zoning is a PDP affair. It is a party constitutional matter. The party's constitution has provision for the procedure for amendments, Article 26.1, Page 101. The solution to this unhealthy controversy therefore, lies with the party and its leadership.

'In my view, the solution to this debate lies in discussions at the appropriate levels of the party machinery.'

He specifically called on the PDP leadership to, among others, 'define and redefine the exact contents of zoning, its objectives and main goals; time frame for the evaluation of the application of zoning and similar provisions such as federal character, educationally disadvantaged states, with a view to refraining or discarding it; make a special case for the present situation but uphold zoning or abrogate it, and similar provisions including the six geo-political zones which is not provided for in the nation's constitution.'

But giving an insight into how the party arrived at the faltering zoning arrangement, the retired General faulted those who made the declaration that zoning was not entrenched in the PDP Constitution and was only an arrangement to placate the South- west which felt cheated over the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election won by the late business mogul, Chief M.KO. Abiola.

'I chaired the team that drafted the Constitution of the PDP in 1999.

'The late Uncle Bola Ige was to be the chairman of the PDP in 1999 but unfortunately the west zonal representatives withdrew and I was called upon to take the place of Uncle Bola of blessed memory. From the position, I can claim to know the minds of the founding fathers of the party and this no doubt were well considered when drafting the party's constitution.

'The emergent political processes at the time were premised upon liberal democratic theory, especially as this has been articulated in Nigeria's history since 1950 and concretely spelt out in constitutional documents and practice.

An outline of this Nigerian adaptation of liberal democratic theory is to be found in the appropriate sections of the various Nigerian Constitution, starting from 1976 through 1999 which prescribes Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Other settled areas of consensus include federalism and presidentialism.

The question then arose: if liberal democratic theory provides the theoretical flesh for these processes, how can they be given practical policy muscles?

'The answer to this question led us, to research some successful democracies, federalism and party constitution of some countries of the world. Our concern was focused on reform, restoration of confidence in the electoral system and re-orientation of political culture.

We therefore recognized zoning as a way that is supportive and facilitative of liberal democratic polity. Initially, it wasn't expressly contained in the 1999 constitution, it nevertheless was a major policy pillar on which the parry rested. To therefore say that there is no provision for zoning or rotation in the PDP constitution isn't true. Article 7.2[c] of the party constitution is clear on this, ' Jemibewon noted.