Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has said it wants a Moslem from the northern part of the country to stand as the party’s presidential candidate in next year’s elections.
This would mean that acting President Goodluck Jonathan, who is a Christian from the South cannot offer himself as a candidate.
Jonathan is acting for ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua who has yet to make himself available to the nation since returning from Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.
Ita Enang, a PDP member of the Federal House of Representatives from the southern state of Akwa Ibom said the PDP adopted the regional designation of the presidency to maintain the unity of Nigeria.
“Nigeria is a complex system. We came together in the form of amalgamation in such circumstance that there are so many nations within nations, tribes, ethnic groups, religious groupings and so on. All of us came together to form the country called Nigeria. And to maintain that unity, to make sure that every section of the country feels a sense of belonging, it was necessary to zone the presidency,” he said.
Enang said the PDP is following its platform that because former President Olusegun Obassanjo was from the south and served two terms, so too the north must have its chance to rule the country.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obassanjo
“After that the presidency moves to the northern part of the country and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is the president of the country. Now if Yar’Adua ceases to be the president for any reason, then the acting president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan will step in to be the president. And the party is saying that in that event, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan cannot and may not be allowed to run as a candidate of the party in the next elections,” he said.
He denied that the PDP’s regional designation of the presidency might have been responsible for the current political predicament that Nigeria finds itself in as a result of the ailment of President Yar’Adua.
“This is just an arrangement by our particular political party. Each political party looks at the popularity of the country, looks at issues involved and design the kind of arrangement within the political party that is going to make people agree with its principles and ideas and be able to follow them,” he said.
Enang said even if Vice President Jonathan chooses to run in the PDP primary on the ground that he was only acting for President Yar’Adua, still the party would not name him as its candidate.
“He may want to offer himself up to run in the nomination, but what the party is saying is that by the party arrangement it is the candidate from the north that they would want to support to make sure that the northern part of the country does not feel that their term was short-circuited by circumstances beyond their control, and that they have by this process in demand of the chance to run the country for eight years or two terms,” Enang said.