Atiku’s Position On Zoning Disappointing, Hypocritical – SaMBA
The Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA) has condemned former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, over remarks that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not recognise the principle of zoning political offices.
The former vice president at a meeting with members of a group, ‘Let’s Fix Nigeria’, who were on a solidarity visit at his residence in Abuja on Friday, had reportedly faulted the call for the Peoples Democratic Party to zone its presidential ticket to the South.
Atiku had said, “Fundamentally, the constitution says all of us can run. The constitution has not barred any one of us. There is no zoning in the constitution; there is none. I was a member of the constituent assembly that drafted the current constitution and there was nothing like that.”
Reacting to the former vice president’s remarks, SaMBA described his position on zoning as disappointing and hypocritical.
SaMBA in a statement signed by its spokesman, Prince Rwang Pam Jnr, said, Atiku’s position contradicts his previous postures as a statesman that has always demanded for equity, fairness, and justice in the country.
The group recalls that Atiku was in the vanguard for zoning in 2011 when he wanted to wrestle power from former President Goodluck Jonathan.
It also stated that the former vice president had in his campaign for zoning led Northern PDP leaders including Governors Tambuwal, Saraki, and Kwankwaso to stage a public walk out of the PDP National Convention in 2015 during a speech by Goodluck Jonathan when President Jonathan stated he will run for president.
SaMBA further probed: “The same Alhaji Atiku had on December 15, 2010, warned the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to jettison, the already existing zoning of the PDP at the National Stakeholders Conference of the party in 2010 which had the present National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu in attendance.
“Atiku also in an interview with Daily Trust on June 6, 2013, urged the PDP to return to the principle of zoning.
“SaMBA therefore demand to know from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, what exactly has changed between 2010 and 2013 and today that the former vice president is fighting against zoning the presidency in 2023.”
According to the group, while the word “zoning” may not be contained in the Nigerian constitution, it’s spirit and the principle of Federal Character was provided in the constitution, “so also are fairness, Justice, and equity,” clearly written in the 1999 constitution.
SaMBA referred Atiku to Section 14 (1), Section 14 (3) and Sub-section 4 of Section 14 that justifies zoning political offices and stated that President Muhammadu Buhari who is from Northern region will complete his eight years in 2023, and it is expected that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would honourably throw his weight behind one of his associates from the Southern part of Nigeria especially from the South-East as a true democrat and as a self-proclaimed advocate of fairness, Justice and equity.
“Section 14 (1) of the 1999 constitution as amended stated: “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
“Section 14 (3) states: The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”
“Sub-section 4 of Section 14 also states: The composition of the government of a State, a Local Government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the Federation.
“The issue of federal character is not limited to governance. It is for this reason that Section 223 (1) (b) of the Constitution says, “The constitution and rules of a political party shall ensure that the members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party reflect the federal character of Nigeria while sub-section 2(b) says … The federal character is reflected only if the members belong to different states.
“Nigerians will recall that the same Atiku in pursuit of his campaign for zoning in 2015 led Northern PDP leaders including governors Tambuwal, Saraki, and Kwankwaso to stage a public walk out of the PDP National Convention while Jonathan was making his speech in which he indicated he would contest in the 2015 presidential election.
“Therefore, SaMBA demands that the former Vice-president desist from actions that gives him the image of a desperate politician and expects the former Presidential candidate of PDP in the 2019 Elections to adorn the mantle of a statesman and queue behind people of good reason, fairness and equity to return political power to the South in 2023.
“We expect Atiku Abubakar to support one of his political associates from Southern Nigeria who have been with him for many years, especially the Southeast that massively supported him in 2019.”