Northern governors yesterday agreed on President Goodluck Jonathan’s right to contest the 2011 presidential election, although they declined endorsed him as their candidate.
The meeting of the Northern Governors Forum, which held a day after south-south leaders unanimously backed the candidacy of Mr. Jonathan, was attended by all the 19 governors in the north.
In a communiqué read to journalists by the chairman of the forum and the Niger State governor, Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu, the governors acknowledged the supremacy of the Nigerian constitution in matters of contesting elections, adding that Mr. Jonathan, and indeed any other Nigerian, was free to contest the 2011 presidential election.
Mr. Aliyu said the forum recognises zoning as a PDP affair, and advised for wider consultation at all levels within the PDP across the country to address the concerns of all, in the interest of peaceful co-existence and advancement of democracy in the country.
The forum had, at a meeting held on July 1, directed all governors to go back to their states and hold consultation on the issue to collate views for discussion.
There has, however, been tension across the region since the last meeting – with various interest groups taking positions on the issue of zoning. Some states have also openly spoken of their position on zoning and whether or not Mr. Jonathan should contest the elections.
No endorsement for anyone
At the start of the meeting, Mr. Aliyu had warned that though the meeting will discuss various positions of the states as they affect rotational presidency, they will not endorse any individual as presidential candidate in 2011 election. He said the meeting will also focus on issues of education and the backwardness of the states in the financial sector.
The communiqué read, in part: “The special meeting of the Northern Governors Forum was held, sequel to the resolve during its meeting of July 1, 2010 to allow members go back for wider consultations with stakeholders for the unity and progress of northern states within the context of a unity Nigeria on zoning of the position of the president before eventually taking position on the matter.
“The forum then noted that the desired wider consultations with stakeholders had taken place and various positions had been taken by respective states. The Northern Governors’ Forum, after collating the reports from all the 19 northern states, and after exhaustive deliberations, recognises the following:
“The supremacy of the 1999 constitution as encapsulated in section 1.
“The provision of section 131 of the 1999 constitution, which states the qualification of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Arising from the above, therefore, the forum acknowledges the right of President Goodluck Jonathan and indeed any other Nigerian to legitimately and constitutionally contest for the office of the president.
“On zoning, the forum recognises the issue of zoning is a PDP affair, as contained in section 7(2c) of the party constitution.
“Therefore, in acknowledging the circumstances of the demise of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and the subsequent ascendency of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to the presidency, the forum resolves that wider consultations should continue at all party levels within the PDP, with all stakeholders across the nation to address the concerns of all in the interest of peaceful co-existence and advancement of democracy in our dear country, Nigeria.”