A Kaduna-based civil society organisation, the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, has enumerated 90 reasons why it thinks President Goodluck Jonathan must not run in the 2011 generals elections.
The group, in a statement signed by its president, Shehu Sanni, asked Mr Jonathan to respect and maintain the zoning system of the ruling Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP) because his political career has benefited from zoning.
â€œJonathan emerged as acting president and president as a product of zoning,â€ stated the group. The organisation also stated that key political offices in the country, such as the senate president, speaker of the House of Representative, secretary to the government of the Federation and vice president are not occupied â€œby merit but by zoning.â€
It also noted that professional bodies in the nation, such as the Nigerian Bar Association, Trade Union Congress, Nigerian Medical Association, Academic Staff Union of Universities, amongst many others, â€œshare positionsâ€ and â€œobserve zoning.â€
Zoning for fair play
When asked if one of reasons on the list, which states that a â€œNortherner will not accept a Southern Nigerian cancelling zoningâ€ is not inciting, Mr Sanni declared: â€œThe biggest incitement is the cancellation of the zoning arrangement. If a northern president cancels the zoning system, will the people of the south agree?,â€ adding that his clamour for the respect of zoning, which is a party affair, does not make him partisan.
â€œZoning is a party arrangement, but the president the party is producing is going to be the president of Nigeria, and nota president of PDP,â€ he said, â€œThose speaking out against zoning today lost their voices when Obasanjo muzzled out Odili in favour of Umaru.â€
On the constitutionality of the zoning system, the activist questioned why the new occupant of the office of the vice-president was zoned, and not picked at random or merit.
â€œThe constitution did not approve of zoning the vice-presidency, but why are we zoning the vice presidency and agree to unconstitutionally zone the office?,â€ he said. â€œThere is nothing like merit in our electoral politics, because corrupt people can also contest and win elections. All the ex-governors and even serving senators undergoing trial in the courts for corruption have contested and won elections.â€
The group had warned that without zoning, only the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo can produce a president because of their numerical strength. Also included in the list to the president are series of warnings on why the zoning structure might sustain the unity of the country.
â€œZoning came as a result of the quest for â€˜power shift,â€™ zoning is the answer to sectional domination, zoning ends ethnic hegemony, zoning enables all sections to produce a president, zoning ends the tyranny of the majority,â€ stated the group.
The group urged Mr Jonathan to conduct â€œa free, fair and credible election and hand over power to a Nigerian of northern extraction whose tenure will end by 2015. And become an international statesman.â€