Since the return of democracy in 1999, there have been attempts by some Abuja based politicians to control the affairs of Adamawa State. This group of politicians resurfaces only when elections draw nearer. As a result, they always put the state in a difficult situation.
In 1999, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, was elected as the governor of the state but before his swearing-in, he was appointed the vice president to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. This development raised a lot of legal questions, which were left unanswered. One of such questions was regarding the status of someone elected to an office; whether a man elected to an office is constitutionally recognized as the holder of that office as soon as he is declared winner or it is when he takes oath of office?.
Mr. Boni Harunan, the present Minister of Youth Development as Atiku’s deputy at that time took over and spent two terms of eight years in office. Atiku and Haruna are not from the same senatorial zone, Haurna is from the northern zone and Atiku is from the southern zone. If zoning is a constitutional provision enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution, Haruna would have not taken over as governor, but Atiku’s zone would produce another candidate for the office of the governor.
The case of President Goodluck Jonathan and his former boss, the late Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua is another good example that zoning is not a constitutional provision, but it is one of the tactics of a group of people who always want to dictate the person that assume leadership position at any level.
As usual, the Abuja politicians, as they are fondly called, after several years of hand picking of candidates for elections without primaries even though some of those candidates are not members of the PDP, change tactics when an amalgamated group of over 70 different organizations fused together and purchased a governorship form for James Bala Ngillari by renewing calls for zoning.
A group of an unregistered organization, under the aegis of former Adamawa State governorship aspirants last week issued a press statement in Abuja stating that there was a purported agreement that the governorship position be zoned to central zone, so Ngillari who is from northern zone is not eligible to contest. Alhaji Abubakar Jada, a top PDP stakeholder in the state did not only dismissed the position of the former governorship aspirants, but added that the aspirants were not properly informed or educated on the issue they are advocating in the media.
According to him, “It is unfortunate that selfish interests make educated people become blind and deaf, I was part of that agreement. The agreement was not about zoning, the agreement was that any aspirant that participated in the 2014 governorship by-election will not participate in the 2015 governorship election”, he said.
Jada stated that if zoning was part of the agreement Dr. Mohammed Modibbo, who is from central and other aspirants would have not been allowed to contest; only aspirants from southern zone where the ousted governor Murtala Nyako hails from would have been cleared for the poll.
Senator Silas Jonathan Zwingina, recently in a press conference said that zoning halt the growth of democracy and that it denies the electorate their rights to choose the leader of their choice and that it is only voters that can use their votes to zone positions not individuals hiding under party rules to smuggle themselves into power at the detriment of voters.
He said, “People want short cut to power, this is because they know that they are not popular to win elections, anybody that has the support of his people will not think of zoning, for me zoning is not too bad, but it should not be placed above merit. For a democracy to grow everybody that wants to participate in an election should not discriminate on the ground that the position has been zoned to another place.
A renowned political analyst and PDP chieftain in Adamawa State, Alhaji Sule Jautu Kefas, said that if the national leadership of PDP bowed to the pressure of the people he called “Adamawa seven unwise men” operating in Abuja using the President’s name, the party will incur the wrath of the electorate and it will lose all the elections in the state.
“If 100 people feel they are qualified to win the governorship of Adamawa State they should contest, what we want is the best, we did zoning in 1999 from Atiku to Haruna and Nyako, but the result is no good for us, so this time no zoning. We want the best, merit is now the centre point in Adamawa, so those clamouring for zoning should either be prepared themselves for contest or quit the race”, he maintained.
He argued that if zoning is in PDP constitution it should be practiced in all PDP controlled states. It should not be selective as some advocates of zoning want it in Adamawa State.
“What is good for goose is also good for the gander, since the return of democracy in 1999 in Kogi State there is no zoning only Igalas from one zone are ruling the state and is PDP state. Since the return of democracy in 1999 there is no governorship zoning in Benue State and it is PDP, Bauchi State, Rivers State, Cross-Rivers and many other PDP controlled states. So any group of individuals who think that they will impose their relatives or drivers on the people of the state hiding under zoning, we will resist with the last drop of our blood, all Adamawa sons and daughters that want to contest should come out and contest”, he said.
The Adamawa State chairman of PDP, Chief Joel Madaki, recently said that with the coming of Ngillari as governor, the former agreement of the party with aspirants did not only collapsed, but that is void and a nullity, it has no effect again in the politics of Adamawa PDP.
“Our agreement with governorship aspirants cannot be respected again because Ngillari who is the governor now was not part of that agreement, so how can you force him to obey an agreement he did not agree to obey or sign. Secondly, the agreement was for 2014 governorship by-election and not 2015, so people that are talking of agreement are only misleading themselves, my appeal to them, is that they should prepare for contest if they are interested. I cannot shave the head of Adamawa people in their absence, let them decide who to govern them in 2015”, he stated.
While commending the ruling Peoples Democratic Party national leadership over its transparency and fairness to all members of the party, the leader of the group Arch. Lawrence Ngbale, told the National Organising Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha, that the decision of the different groups to buy governorship form or Governor Ngillari was due to his desire to provide quality leadership to the people of the state. He said that Ngillari was not only the governorship candidate that can bring total victory to PDP in the state, but that he is a symbol of unity, development, justice and rule of law.
“I want to inform you that Ngillari did not contribute one kobo to this money that we use to pay for this governorship form, it is the contribution of over 70 different groups that fused together that we, their representatives are today buying this form”, he said.
“This is a clear indication that if a leader is not corrupt people knows, politics is a game of the majority, so a cabal cannot over rule the decision of the majority because they find themselves in certain positions. If Ngillari is good to be deputy governor for over seven years, what disqualifies him from becoming the governor?
“On behalf of this group I want to assure PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan that with Ngillari as the candidate of the PDP for governorship, the president should not come to Adamawa for campaign, the least number of votes he will get from Adamawa is 1.5 million votes. This is because the people of the state irrespective of their religion, ethnic group are united for Ngillari who we all see as the centre of harmony in the state”.
The Adamawa PDP is now in a dilemma; it will either bow to the pressure of the Abuja cabal and loses Adamawa State or go with the electorate and win the state. The battle line is now drawn between Adamawa voters and the Abuja cabal. Investigations revealed that the cabal was strategizing on how to impose its will on the people of Adamawa State and if the cabal wins, for the Adamawa voters in PDP, it will be an easy target for the APC to win the state.
The issue now is, will the PDP national secretariat sacrifice Adamawa for the interest of some few individuals to the detriment of the party’s victory in the 2015 elections?