Two prominent Northern groups have voiced their strong opposition to the rumoured plan of the Peoples’ Democratic Party to make President Goodluck Jonathan their sole candidate in the presidential primaries for the 2015 elections.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, described the move as undemocratic, stating that it could lead to chaos and collapse of the party.
The spokesman for the ACF, Mr Anthony Sani, said that the North was opposed to the move because it would limit the choice of Nigerians during the election, even as he added that the final say of who becomes the president in 2015 was not that of the PDP.
He said, “I am not aware of this kind of move by the ruling PDP. But I want to say such practices, if allowed, would limit the democratic space by reducing the choice of candidate. As a result, members of the ruling party’s right to participate in the choice of their presidential candidate will be short changed. Nigerians’ choice will also be limited.
“It is to be noted that even in America, when candidacy is conceded to the incumbent, it is not forced but brought about by consensus by members of the ruling party. And that was why Senator Kennedy was not barred from contesting the primaries with President Jimmy Carter in the early 80s. The practices of limiting candidacy to incumbency cannot promote democracy that is premised on triple foundation of liberty, justice and common decency.
“When you talk about effect of such development on the aspiration of the North to vie for the presidency in 2015, you at once convey an impression that the primaries in PDP is final. Nigerians can still make judicious use of their democratic rights and vote candidates in some other parties, more so in a clime where most of the political parties are mere clones of one another in terms of their approach to solving the myriad of problems of Nigeria.”
Sani advised Nigerians not to let such action by the PDP result to chaos in the country, added that it was too early to determine if the North will look in the direction of the All Progressives Congress to actualise it’s aspiration for presidency in 2015.
“Nigerians should not allow the actions of a few or of a party to determine how they think, what they say and what they do. Nigerians should shape events, and not allow events to shape us. There is no need for chaos, since voters have the final say. Instead of causing any chaos, voters should make judicious use of their democratic rights and vote leaders of their choice,” he added.
On the one-term agreement northern governors allegedly signed with Jonathan, Sani said, “I have said agreements (whether signed or not) and court cases do not produce presidents in a democracy. Only Nigerian voters can produce the president. Somehow, I believe that both the controversy about agreement and court cases have been brought into the open for a higher cause. Nigerians deserve leaders they can rely upon to deliver on their promises.
“Though northerners aspire to be president in 2015, they would do so democratically, and not undemocratically. So the question of forcing northerners into one political party does not arise. They do not have to be in one party in order to make their votes count.”
On his part, the convener of CNPAPB, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said imposing Jonathan as the sole aspirant in PDP would tear the country apart.
“Let them try it. If they try it, let us see what will happen. The second term governors are not the only ones aspiring to be president. Let PDP become an automatic consensus candidate party, and let’s see how the party survives. That will lead to a collapse of PDP and that is the best possible outcome for the country.
“If they do that, there will be reaction and the reaction will not be only from the rest of the country, but also from the international community. This because the international community will not want to pay the price of Nigeria breaking down, because they will not want to bring their marines here to stop us from tearing ourselves apart,” he stated.