The claim made by a former Nigerian ambassador that President Goodluck Jonathon will not be contesting at next year’s election, has been slammed by the The Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Sully Abu.
Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, ambassador to Switzerland from 1981-84, has made no secret of his discontent for Goodluck standing for election next year. Earlier on in the year Kwande said: “To my mind, it would not be fair for him to contest in 2011. The circumstance that made him president was an unfortunate one and his emergence has been accepted without question. But there is no point for him to break an existing arrangement by contesting in 2011. That would not be fair.”
Goodluck assumed the presidency in February this year, while the president at the time, Umaru Yar’Adua, was taken ill. After a long spell of ill-health, Yar’Adua died and Goodluck continued in his role – without any formal transfer of power. Goodluck’s reception in the country has been divided, with those who are yet to see any significant changes since his rule, and those who hang on faithfully to his promises of bringing transformation to the country.
In strong words directed at the ex-ambassador, Abu said: “President Jonathan has never contemplated and is not contemplating withdrawing from the race for the presidency in 2011. He [Kwande] is neither a spokesman for Jonathan nor a supporter of his cause. He, therefore, lacks, absolutely, the credentials to speak for the President.”
Kwande has also criticised President Goodluck on his apparent disregard for the ‘zoning‘ laws of the country. Zoning is, in short, a complex answer to a complex country which houses more than 250 different ethnic groups. The basic principle of zoning is to ensure power is rotated between key ethnic groups and maintain civil peace as a result. Ex-president Obasanjo saw off eight years of rule as a southern president before Yar’Adua (from the north) took over. This is zoning – turns of power between the north and south. However, Yar’Adua did not get to serve a full term as president before his death, and a man from the south, Goodluck took over. As a result – the north are hungry for power again.
The ruling party, PDP, denied zoning the 2011 presidency to the north, saying in an Abuja High Court:
“It is not correct to state that the presidential flag bearer of the 1st Defendant for the 2011 election is zoned to Northern Nigeria. [The PDP] allows its presidential candidate to emerge democratically from the pool of aspirants, thereafter, other positions, like the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, National Chairman of the party, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), etc are zoned.”
This dangerous U-turn in policy is what Kwande has hit back at, asking: “Can a nation earn respect when its leaders don’t respect the truth and honour? If zoning doesn’t affect the office of the President, why didn’t former President Obasanjo bring a Yoruba presidential candidate to succeed him in 2007? Why did he have to bring the late Yar’Adua to succeed him?”