‘In the interest of stability, Jonathan Should Not Run In 2011’

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in this interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Newshour insisted that the zoning arrangement in the PDP should be respected and all members of the party should abide by the decisions of the party. Excerpts. I’ve just been speaking with Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President who some people say he is in the running to be appointed as the Vice President again under the new President.

How do you feel about the death of President Yar’Adua?

My personal reaction is that of sadness and grief, being a very close person to me, whom I consider a brother.

So, it is always sad to lose a brother.

But how effective do you think President Goodluck Jonathan is likely to be? There are also some challenges facing Nigeria at the moment?

Indeed, there are a lot of challenges that are facing Nigeria at the moment, but the most important challenge facing Nigeria is the stability of our democracy and the deepening of the democratic institutions that have been built.

Now, he has to appoint a new Vice President and there has been talk of you being in the running. Has he approached you?

Well, honestly I am not aware. As I talk to you now, I am just returning from Katsina, where I attended the funeral of the late President.

So, I am not aware of what is going on around Abuja. I have no idea.

Do you think he would have to choose the Vice President from the North?

Obviously yes, to have a political balance and equilibrium in the country. It has always been like that. Power has always been shared between the North and South in one form or the other.

The informal agreement has always been that a President from the North serves two-terms and then the President from the South two-terms. But President Yar’Adua only had half-a-term?

Well, yes, I am aware of that agreement. I was a party to it; it exists and I expect the party will implement that policy and if the party decides not to implement it, then it will also have to meet and review it.

When you say implement it, you mean in terms of the 2011 election, because President Jonathan, of cause, is from the South. Does that mean if they implement the policy, so does that mean a different candidate from the North would have to stand?

That is the understanding definitely.

So, if he did say he was going to stand, would that cause political upheaval in Nigeria?

Ah! I know it is bound to cause some political instability and that is what we don’t want at this point in time, because we want to stabilise our democracy; we want to stabilise our polity so that we can develop.

So, what you are saying in the interest of stability, President Jonathan shouldn’t stand in the 2011 election?

In the interest of stability. Ah, you know, all members of the party should abide by the decisions of the party.

(Cuts in) and the party should decide to put up a Northerner?

Well, the party is obliged to do that if it does not review its last decision

What sort of President does Nigeria need at the moment?

We need a strong President; we need a credible President. We need a President who has the vision and ambition to steer Nigeria and leave a solid foundation for economic growth for unity and stability of the country.

Finally, the presidential election next year, will you be running?

Ah! I don’t think I am in the position to answer this question now, because there are quite a lot of things agitating my mind that have occupied my mind.

So, that decision, I think, will be considered later.

So, you don’t know?

Ah, at the moment, certainly, I am not thinking about that. I have much more urgent problems.

‘It Will Be Politically Expedient To Appoint A Vice President From The Northwest Zone’

Dr. Sat Obiyan, Head, Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife.

By Tunde Eso

How do you think the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and swearing in of President Goodluck would affect Nigeria and next year’s elections?

The demise of our President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is indeed a national tragedy. He did his best in the attempt to set the country on the right and sound footing.

The beauty of a constitutional democracy, however, is the provisions for an orderly, smooth and non-violent transfer of power in critical moments of this nature, hence the assumption of office of the President by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Where should the next Vice President come from?

With respect to the choice of a Vice President, it will be necessary for the President to take into cognisance the power equation in the country, especially in the light of the zoning arrangement put in place by his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Though not entrenched in the Nigerian constitution, the power rotation and zoning arrangement of the PDP have helped to provide some appreciable measure of stability in the polity. Thus, it will be politically expedient for the President to appoint a Vice President from the Northwest zone of the country, from where the late President hailed.

Many believe Jonathan, until now, was encumbered in certain ways, but now that he has become President, what should we expect from him?

As an Acting President, Jonathan was constitutionally empowered to exercise full presidential powers, which are the same powers that he now wields as a substantive President.

But in reality, certain factors could have caused unusual inhibition in the exercise of presidential powers, as an Acting President, arising largely from the possibility of the re-emergence of the late substantive President if he had sufficiently recovered from his ailment.

That could have necessitated some restraints on the part of the then Acting President, as he was most probably unsure what Yar’Adua’s position would have been if he were fit to resume his position as President.

One year is certainly insufficient to meaningfully address all the problems besetting Nigeria. Thus, we should not expect a miracle from the President.

However, I am convinced that he would increase his chances of success, if he concentrates on providing real leadership, as a statesman and avoid excessive politicking.

He should work hard to restore confidence in the country’s electoral process and ensure transparency in the management of the nation’s resources.

Indeed, he should be committed to the defense of the national interest and the promotion of the welfare of the citizens and allow these factors to guide his management of the country’s affairs.

‘If There’s No Written Document On Rotational Presidency In PDP Party, Jonathan Should Contest’

I READ former President Olusegun Obasanjo saying there no written document to support that the running of the Presidency should go to the North next year, and that is a very good comment by him.

If there has never been any written document signed confirming that rotational presidency in the party, I see no reason why people should say Jonathan should not contest.

But Jonathan should be very careful, considering how he was brought into power and note that he is still under the Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket.

However, within the next few months, if he performs beyond expectation, he can think of continuing from there.

Head, Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife



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