Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party has cleared way for head of state Goodluck Jonathan to compete for president in January 2011.
The decision, adopted by delegates of the party’s National Executive Council’s in the capital Abuja, is a shift from the “gentleman’s agreement” between the north and south.
“Today Dr Goodluck Jonathan by the dictate of our constitution is exercising the term of a joint mandate, given by the people of our great country,” the PDP chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo said.
“If our late president were alive today, we wouldn’t be contesting his right to run for a second term under our national constitution,” Dr. Nwodo said, saying other aspirants in the party are allowed to contest in the presidential primary.
“In the 2011 presidential primary, we were faced with unforeseen circumstances, which can only be likened to a national crisis we faced recently when our late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was ill and couldn’t transfer power to the then vice president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
“The country rose to the occasion and parliament successfully transmitted power to the vice president as acting president. In the zoning arrangement, we didn’t envisage that a serving president would die in office, unfortunately we lost our dear president”.
This has been a victory for the party’s Northern Summit Group campaigning for Jonathan to contest on the party’s ticket.
President Jonathan had earlier taken a swipe on the opposition for meddling into the party’s internal affairs.
“Just look at the issue of zoning or no zoning, it is PDP primaries, whether we zone or don’t zone, it is our own internal affair,” he said.
“But the debate is even being spearheaded more by non-PDP members. That shows that what happens in PDP, in fact they already conceded the presidency to us.
“Otherwise, they have no business coming to join our own debate. That means that they have already known that the PDP will produce the president of this country, but do it well,” said Mr. Jonathan, a southerner.
The party expressed its commitment to the zoning concept. “When our president emerged, he chose a northern muslim as his vice president; when the chairman resigned, he was replaced by another chairman from the south eastern zone. Our Senate president, Speaker, deputy senate president and deputy speaker are from different zones of the country,” Dr. Nwodo said.