The participation of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 election in disregard of his party’s constitution that allows for power to rotate between the north and the south may have made some top northern leaders within the Peoples Democratic Party and state governors unwilling to participate in the Olusola Oke-led committee to review the party’s constitution.
While a memorandum that spells out zoning more clearly in the constitution has been submitted to the PDP secretariat, so far only the Niger State government, which has Governor Muazu Aliyu as a member of the Olusola Oke committee, has set a mechanism to get feedbacks from party members in the respective states and submit a memorandum to Oke’s committee on what it wants the constitution to look into. In Jigawa State, for instance, the special adviser to Governor Sule Lamido on media, Adagbo Onoja, said he was not aware of any efforts that had been made by the governor at the state level to sample people’s opinions or make inputs to the review process.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that virtually all the other PDP state governors across the region have not taken steps to participate in the party’s constitution review process. Even prominent party leaders like former military president Ibrahim Babangida and former vice president Atiku Abubakar are not enthusiastic about the process. Former finance minister Adamu Ciroma, who led a group within the PDP that asked President Jonathan to respect the concept of zoning and power rotation, has also told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that he has no intention of participating in the review process.
When asked about his possible participation in the party’s constitution review that could finally bring to an end the issue of zoning, Ciroma said, “No, no I will not.” Also, Kassim Afegbua, spokesman of Gen. Babangida, said the former military president, who sent a memorandum to the Justice Mohammed Uwais electoral reform panel a few years ago advocating for only three political parties, has not been invited by the Olusola Oke committee to make inputs to the review process. Afegbua said, “They have not invited him to make any inputs. He has privileges and will participate in the process, if he is invited to do so”. Atiku’s spkesman, Garba Shehu, in his response said, “We do not know what they are doing. We have no idea what section of the party’s constitution they want to amend.” Shehu also said they are yet to come up with a position on whether zoning should be expunged from the party’s constitution.
In the run-up to the 2011 general elections, the PDP was embroiled in a controversy over a clause in the party’s constitution that stipulates that the presidency rotates between the north and south.
Leaders of the party from the north led by Malam Ciroma had insisted that the party’s presidential flag-bearer for the 2011 presidential election should emerge from the north.
Under the auspices of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) the group had endorsed Atiku as its candidate for the PDP presidential ticket. Atiku, however, lost to President Jonathan at the January 13, 2011, presidential primaries.