The national security adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has resigned.
General Aliyu Gusau, who comes from northern Nigeria, said he will contest the 2011 presidential election on the ticket of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan waves to the crowd before their campaign declaration in Abuja on September 18, 2010.
Abdulhamid Yakubu Kwarra, director of policy and strategy for General Gusau told VOA the former national security adviser is scheduled to pick up his nomination papers Monday from the PDP headquarters in Abuja.
“He resigned because he has this desire to aspire and to become a candidate under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party and to run for the presidential election in 2011,” he said.
Kwarra would not say whether Gusau’s desire to seek the PDP nomination was intended to hurt President Jonathan’s chances.
Instead, he said Gusau has a right under Nigerian constitution to run for any public office.
“I don’t think I will be willing to tell you why because I will not speak for (Mr.) Jonathan and neither will I give reasons as to why the general must have resigned. But, like I said, he primarily resigned because he intends to contest for an election under the platform of the PDP, which is a constitutional right. That has nothing to do with any other thing with Mr. President,” Yakubu Kwarra said.
He said he was optimistic Gusau, whom he described as popular, would put up a serious fight for the PDP nomination.
“Any attempt to aspire to public office is competition. So, it’s like a game. Naturally, if you decide to run for anything, it generates competition. As human beings, we expect the competition to sway either head or tail. Somebody, at the end of the day, will emerge,” he said
Gusau is the third northerner in addition to former military leader Ibrahim Babangida and former vice president Atiku Abubakar to seek the candidacy of the PDP for the 2011 elections.
Northern and southern members of the ruling PDP have an informal agreement under which the presidency is supposed to rotate between the mostly-Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
Kwarra said the so-called zoning arrangement clashes with Nigeria’s constitution.
“The PDP constitution has clearly provided for zoning allocation of elected public offices. Secondly, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has equally guaranteed the right of every Nigerian to aspire to any elected office in the country so long as he’s qualified for it. So, I wouldn’t want to delve into those things,” he said.
He said the thinking in northern Nigeria is for the presidency to remain in the north in line with the PDP zoning arrangement.
On the other hand, Kwarra said the PDP cannot deny President Jonathan the right to contest because it believes the Nigerian constitution is superior to any party arrangement.
He said he was confident the PDP will come together as a party once the nomination process is over.