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Obasanjo Affirms PDP's Controversial Zoning

Source: EMMA UCHE. - thewillnigeria.com
FORMER PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO ADDRESSING PDP SUPPORTERS AT THE GRAND FINALE RALLY OF THE PDP IN  ABUJA TODAY, MARCH 26, 2011.
FORMER PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO ADDRESSING PDP SUPPORTERS AT THE GRAND FINALE RALLY OF THE PDP IN ABUJA TODAY, MARCH 26, 2011.
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ABUJA, March 26, (THEWILL) - The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today declared that its controversial principle of zoning is still very much alive.

The assertion finally buried the notion of the eventual death of the issue, which almost tore the party to shreds.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chairman of the BoT of the party made the declaration on Saturday at a rally to formally close President Goodluck Jonathan nationwide Presidential rally campaign.

He urged party members to see the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s candidate in next month’s election as an accident of history.

He therefore urged aggrieved members of the party to understand it for what it

is and work for the success of the President in the Presidential election assuring that a Jonathan presidency would actualize the Nigerian dream.

Obasanjo said he had met with General Ibrahim Babangida and other apostles of zoning to allay the fear of the north over the issue.

He told the gathering that Jonathan’s candidacy should not be seen as a violation of the zoning and federal character principle of the party.

He also said for Jonathan to have said he is staying for a term should be praised rather than vilified.

Obasanjo stressed the need for politicians to shun religious and ethnic sentiments adding that what propelled him to work for the success of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua were based on his conviction that the unity of Nigeria is paramount.

He said he had sacrificed much to bring about the unity of Nigeria, stressing that he is ready to die if it will serve the best interest of the country.

Obasanjo, who also revealed that when the issue of zoning was raised at the last Sunday’s PDP Board of Trustee (BOT) meeting by the three leading light of the principle, General Ibrahim Babangida, former vice president Atiku Abubakar and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Aliyu Mohamed Gusau, he was mandated to take it up with them.

He said in resolving the issue he told them that the issue of federal character, zoning and rotation remains alive in PDP.

“Drawing from our national Constitution, which upholds Federal Character, we are the only political party that enshrines Federal Character in our Constitution through zoning and rotation. And we should be proud of that. For us and for the foreseeable future that remains sacrosanct. I am an apostle of Federal Character under Murtala/Obasanjo administration and I cannot now preach anything different. The accident of history of the recent past must be understood for what it is, an unexpected situation and PDP as a party has addressed that issue.

“At the last meeting of BOT of our party last Saturday, the issue was tabled by

the President as it was raised by three distinguished members of our party a day before that BoT meeting with the President. I was mandated to take up the position of the party with the three distinguished members of our party who raised the issue. They are General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Muhammed and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku.

“The following day, that was last Sunday, I took up the matter with General Ibrahim Babangida who expressed to me that the issue is not the accident of history but rather it is the issue of perception in some quarter that Federal Character, zoning and rotation as established and practiced by PDP have been jettisoned and permanently cancelled. I, on behalf of the BOT allayed the fear and I promised a public report while he briefs the other two party members with whom we saw the president on the eve of the BOT meeting.

“What am I saying? What am saying simply is that Federal Character, zoning and rotation in our party is alive and kicking. I personally see the practice of Federal Character, zoning and rotation of key political and governmental positions and offices by the PDP, if it will continue to be the ruling party in Nigeria, I see that position beyond my lifetime. It will only happen when unity, stability and democracy have been established with full confidence and trust by every body in the system and within the polity and among the participants for factors of competence, performance and track record to become predominant. PDP should be praised for being the only party that enshrined Federal Character, zoning and rotation in its constitution and also practicing it,” he said.

On which zone will be allowed to run for the presidency by 2015, the former President was not forthcoming, as he said it is in the hand of God.

Continuing, he said, “PDP has brought stability and substantial predictability to the polity and to the system. I do not know who will be the President of Nigeria after Dr.

Goodluck Jonathan. That is in the hand of God. But with the PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess from where in terms of section of the country from where the successor to President Goodluck Jonathan will come and no internal democracy or competition will be hereby destroyed.”

Commenting on the series of pre-election violence, he said, “The recent resort to sentiments and emotions of religion and regionalism is self serving, unpatriotic and mischievous to say the least. It is also playing on dangerous emotive issues that ignite uncontrollable passion and can destabilize if not destroy our country. It is oblivious of the sacrifices others have made in the past for unity stability and democracy in Nigeria in giving out their lives, shedding their blood and in going to prison. I personally have done two out of these three sacrifices and I am ready to do the third if it will serve

the best interest of Nigerian dream.
“Let me appeal to those who have embarked on those dangerous roles to desist from taking us on a perishable journey. As Nigerians there is more that binds us than separate us,” he further said.