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Toeing the Path of Wisdom, PDP Gives Jonathan the Green Light

(Why he must run in 2011)

By: Franklin Otorofani, Esq.

 Published August  17th, 2010

Faced with the realities on the ground, the PDP couldn’t have done otherwise. For, how could a ruling party look its president who has yet to do one year in office in the eye and say to him: Sir, you have been banned by our party from running for the 2011 presidential election! How could the same political class that granted Shehu Shagari, Olusegun Obasanjo and, but for death, late Musa Yar’Adua, the chance to go for two straight terms in office without challenge suddenly turn around and deny Jonathan, barely one year old in office, even a single term in office for any reason other than gross misconduct as stipulated in the nation’s constitution? How could the party have been that daft and suicidal as to shoot itself in the foot ahead of the impending presidential elections? It was totally unimaginable and unthinkable!--Franklin Otorofani, Esq.

However, PDP’s deliberate ambiguity is louder in silence in what it doesn’t say than what it says. It’s quite remarkable that while the party has on face value retained zoning in its books, it did not specifically zone the presidency to the North in 2011 as demanded by the “North” and that must be a terrible blow to the Northern elements in the party rooting for zoning, including Atiku and IBB. It’s a veritable game changer!—Franklin Otorofani, Esq.  

Three weeks ago to this day August 15, 2010, precisely on July 26, 2010, this writer had the privilege of putting out an article titled, Lazy Man’s Road To Power: Ten Reasons To Dump Zoning  marshalling out ten unassailable reasons and justifications why the PDP zoning formula should belong, not in the party’s constitution but in the dumpster where it’s headed inexorably as its final destination, no matter the foot-dragging and political horse trading currently going on at the highest echelons of the party’s leadership.

Regardless of the stiff resistance currently being put up by vested interests in the North to retain zoning in the party’s constitution, that’s the ultimate fate that will surely befall the formula that’s designed not to promote and broaden democratic choices available to Nigerians, but to reduce and further constrict those choices and disenfranchise Nigerians from particular sections of the country from gunning for the highest office in the land.

And thanks to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provisions are ever superior and will forever remain superior and, therefore, will always prevail against any party agreement or party constitutional provisions, as the case may be.

At this stage of our democratic experience one would have thought that the political class would be pre-occupied with the broadening and expansion of the democratic space. Sadly enough, what we’re experiencing with zoning is the reverse. We should be moving forward not backward and zoning is backward not forward ambulation however hard we try to explain it away for, even slavery and apartheid had their explanations and justifications.

Oh yes, they had their strident apostles too who sought to drown out every voice of opposition to their evil systems sometimes with death threats! But their explanations and justifications and death threats did not make them any more acceptable to right thinking people all over the world and were forced to close shop in due course. Similar fate awaits zoning.   

However, it is hard to see how the PDP could maintain zoning in the face of the provisions of the nation’s constitution. It’s simply almost impossible unless by willful acquiescence on the part of affected presidential aspirants. And the fact that it has been forced to amend its constitution to give effect to the provisions of the new Electoral Act is the first signal yet that the same fate will befall the party’s unconstitutional zoning formula. If the PDP could amend its constitution to bring it in line with the new Electoral Act as regards automatic candidates to its primaries and conventions, it is incredible, to say the least, that it could not amend its constitution to bring it in line with the nation’s constitution which is superior to all other laws in the land including the Electoral Act itself which it has bowed to.  But it’s only a matter of time that it will be forced to do it. It takes just a law suit!

However, it has become clear from the decision of the party’s 52nd NEC meeting that it has, for now, retained its zoning formula in its constitution while at the same time throwing the 2011 presidential contest open to all party members. The party has managed to hinge its decision to throw the contest open to all, including Jonathan, on the basis of Yar’Adua/Jonathan Joint Ticket. That ticket is subsisting and will run out in 2015 provided of course the party retains power. If it loses power to the opposition party, the whole arrangement which is based on the PDP retaining power, will crumble like a pack of cards and the PDP will be forced once again to visit the zoning. Zoning is built on a foundation of quicksand. It’s a makeshift arrangement that cannot stand the test of time and it’s time to face up to that reality instead of building its castles in the air. For the 2011 presidential election though, zoning has been tactfully put in abeyance for the benefit of the president under the pretext of a Joint Ticket. And I have no problem with that as long as it allows anyone including Jonathan to run in 2011.

Hear the crafty and diplomatic Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, the party chairman, providing the theoretical and intellectual foundations for the party’s decision in his presentation, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the 52nd NEC:

“Today, Dr Goodluck Jonathan by the dictate of our constitution is exercising the term of a joint mandate, given by the people of our great country. If our late president were alive today, we wouldn’t be contesting his right to run for a second term under our national constitution. It was his entitlement.

“But Dr Jonathan who is part and parcel of that mandate has a right to contest the remaining of that joint ticket in 2011. This will of course not exclude any other aspirant from any part of the country from contesting the presidential primary, as it has become the custom of our party.”

To me that is a fatal blow to zoning right there. There is no doubt about it. You cannot zone and un-zone at the same time. Both are mutually exclusive. It’s either you zone or you don’t, and by throwing the 2011 presidential primaries open to all party members, it has effectively killed zoning without saying so. What a dubious way to act! But then that is the nature of politicians and politics. Politics is a game of doublespeak that abhors straight, blunt positions for fear of offending certain constituents even if it is doing just that in reality and the PDP is only acting to type.

By retaining zoning, it appears on the face of it, to have adopted the position of those who insist on zoning. But by throwing the 2011 contest open to all interested party members, it has effectively nullified the effect of zoning, at least for the 2011 election and, thus indirectly satisfying the wishes of those who wanted zoning dumped. Of course they wanted zoning dumped to allow Jonathan to contest, not for its own sake, and that’s exactly what the party delivered to them on a platter.  It will be recalled that this is the same position taken earlier by the party’s BoT headed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. And this is where the pro-Jonathan group succeeded in carrying the day to the chagrin of IBB and Atiku who must be wringing their arms in pain. That’s not what they wanted. They wanted Jonthan out of the way by insisting on zoning. They were handed an empty zoning shell.

Faced with the realities on the ground, the PDP couldn’t have done otherwise. For, how could a ruling party look its president who has yet to do one year in office in the eye and say to him: Sir, you have been banned by our party from running for the 2011 presidential election!

How could the same political class that granted Shehu Shagari, Olusegun Obasanjo and, but for death, late Musa Yar’Adua, the chance to go for two straight terms in office without challenge suddenly turn around and deny Jonathan, barely one year old in office, even a single term in office for any reason other than gross misconduct as stipulated in the nation’s constitution? How could the party have been that daft and suicidal as to shoot itself in the foot ahead of the impending presidential elections? It was totally unimaginable and unthinkable!  It’s a veritable game changer!

The PDP was therefore smart in toeing the path of wisdom by throwing the presidency open to all, in effect, clearing the way for Jonathan to run, without offending its pro zoning constituents.

However, PDP’s deliberate ambiguity is louder in silence in what it does not say than what it says. It’s quite remarkable that while the party has on face value retained zoning in its books, it did not specifically zone the presidency to the North in 2011 as demanded by the “North” and that must be a terrible blow to the Northern elements in the party rooting for zoning, including Atiku and IBB. That said, PDP was only respecting precedents, because it had done the same exact thing in the past by allowing other presidential aspirants from non-favored zones to contest its primary. Nwodo himself alluded to that tradition in the above quote.

There’s no question that this is a huge victory for Jonathan that had stood the risk of being zoned out of the race by the party. On the other hand, it is a great loss and indeed an embarrassment to those like Abubakar Atiku and Ibrahim Babaginda, both PDP presidential aspirants who had vehemently opposed Jonathan’s candidacy under the platform of the PDP. Their whole effort was geared not only for the party to retain zoning but to use it to deny Jonathan a chance to run in 2011. That did not happen. On the contrary, the party has given Jonathan the green light to contest if he wants to. Of course he wants to, and the party knew that before formally throwing the contest open to all party members. It did that specifically to accommodate Jonathan whose interest to contest is an open secret. Atiku and IBB who wanted Jonathan out of the way so bad must now make up their minds whether or not to stand against Jonathan under the PDP platform.

What better way to tell them to take their leave and vamoose from the scene!  This view is buttressed by the unpleasant news that has hit the Atiku camp one day to the launch of its presidential campaign. Latest information from the PDP headquarters that it had not granted Atiku any waivers to contest the presidential election under its platform due to the fact that he is not yet a PDP member and the denial of Atiku’s PDP membership by the Adamawa state PDP are all indications that he’s not wanted in the party. He is only forcing himself on an unwilling host. His PDP membership is already in question because he chose to register with a faction of the party in his state that is not recognized by the national secretariat of the party.

“I have been in Abuja since Sunday and I can tell you that to the best of my knowledge, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has not been admitted back into the party in Adamawa State,” the Adamawa state PDP chairman, Alhaji Mijinyawa Kugama, was quoted by ThisDay Online 081510, in a telephone interview.

For the crisis prone Atiku, it’s 2007 all over again! He’s already a political accident and casualty waiting to happen. This could be the beginning of the events that will lead to the second expulsion of Atiku from the PDP as predicted two weeks ago in my last blog of August 3rd 2010 titled:  Permutations and Projections into Nigeria’s 2011 General Elections.

Looking Ahead

Right now, zoning appears to be settled matter for the PDP at least for the 2011 elections. However, by retaining it for future elections, it is sure to rear its ugly head again until the PDP finally summons up courage to dump it altogether rather than going around it in circles as it appears to be doing presently. PDP has merely kicked the can down the road for someone else to deal with in future. That said, whether the PDP retains the zoning provision in its constitution or not in future elections is immaterial. It can keep the formula as a souvenir if it likes. But I can assure the party that it will be no more than a decorative item on its constitution having no bite and no force of law. And worse still, it will come back to hurt the party in future elections.

However, for the nation and individual aspirants, what matters is not whether PDP keeps its zoning but whether it will be respected by its members who are nursing presidential ambitions in future and have the backing of the nation’s constitution to proceed without let or hindrance. The party may have managed to dodge the bullet by being crafty and duplicitous. But the party must watch its back because it may be faced with worse situation in future with the zoning left in its books.

It must be made clear to the PDP, however, that’s practicing what I would characterize as “managed democracy” that zoning cannot prevent a determined presidential aspirant like the late former Kano state Governor, late Abubakar Rimi, from going ahead to contest the PDP primaries and thus the presidency if he or she has the means and the goodwill to carry it all the way through. All a determined presidential aspirant denied a chance to go for the PDP primaries on ground of zoning needs do is head to court to nullify the zoning provisions of the PDP’s constitution and reverse the action of the party in denying that individual a chance to participate in its presidential primaries. I’m confident that zoning cannot survive a court challenge and the PDP has had series of unpleasant experiences with court challenges that ought to have informed its decision to jettison the provisions.

Zoning is enforceable if and only if a victimized presidential aspirant on the platform of the party decides to let go his presidential ambition and abide by party rule no matter if his constitutional right is breached or not. There are aspirants who could be intimidated by the party to give up their rights to contest. But no truly serious aspirant would do that and would head to court to put the PDP in its place just like Rotimi Amechi did in River State.

If the party were a good student of its own history, it should have learnt from that and other experiences in the recent past. When will the PDP learn its lessons and learn to be guided by law rather than by men in its official dealings? Rule of law is different from the wishes of men. The party’s own legal adviser had told it point blank that zoning is unconstitutional and could not be used to stop any member  from vying for the presidency, yet it is dilly dallying about scrapping the obnoxious formula altogether and align its constitution with the nation’s constitution. That’s nothing but fool-hardiness. PPD has suffered several setbacks in the past due to its unconstitutional conduct as evidenced in what happened in both Rivers State and Imo state gubernatorial elections in 2007, where the party’s decisions were upturned by the courts.

The party’s arbitrariness without regard for the nation’s constitution cost it Imo state and almost cost it Rivers state if Governor Rotimi Amaechi were from a different party. All the same it cost it the former governor of the state, Celestine Omehia who lost out at the Supreme Court not because he was at fault but because the party decided to be law unto itself as it is doing with zoning presently. The zoning is a veritable judicial suicide awaiting the PDP if it is used to deny any determined aspirant participation in the party’s primaries. It’s the party’s ultimate waterloo if not quickly thrown overboard now, because the Nigerian judiciary is not beholden to the PDP and its shenanigans.


Fears Driving Zoning

Now, some have argued rather naively that zoning is meant to rotate power between North and the South. Where is that in the constitution? The PDP constitution does not talk about rotating power between North and South but zoning simpliciter and we know about six zones in the country not two zones between North and South. So if we’re to “rotate” power it is going to be rotated among the six zones. Rotation cannot be between North and South; that would be “alternation” between North and South not “rotation”. So let’s get our terms clear. There is no provision for alternating power in the PDP constitution to begin with. So where does rotation between North and South come from? 

They further argue that the “North” would never, ever allow power back to the South again after 2015 if the PDP dumps zoning and Jonathan goes ahead to contest the 2011 election and wins.

I would want to address these fears in some details and would state right away that such people have been left behind by history. First and foremost, such fears are deeply rooted in the belief and conviction that it is the North that dispenses power to whomever and wherever it wants it to go, and could withhold or deny power to whomsoever or wherever it doesn’t want it to go. This belief and conviction is in turn hinged on the assumed numerical superiority of the North that could enable it to determine the outcomes of political contests at the presidential level and hence national leadership.

I would like to state right away that the very idea of investing the North or for that matter, any other geo-political region in the nation with such power is in and of itself a product of slave mentality. For starters, Nigeria has no reliable population count and all previous population counts just like previous elections in the country are generally flawed and deliberately skewed in favor of certain regions. As we all know, population count in Nigeria is used to determine the number of federal constituencies, revenue allocation, and even state creation, et al and so the incentives to inflate figures are high. Therefore, the idea of numerical superiority is at best mere conjecture and a figment of imagination. No one knows the real population of Nigeria and its geographical distribution. Until that is done, the idea of numerical superiority or inferiority of any region is a non starter.

Secondly, even if at the end of the day, the North is determined to be numerically superior to the South, such numerical superiority does not in any way automatically translate to electoral victory for a northern candidate because there are other dynamics at play in politics of which the relative sizes of regional electorates is only one of several factors. A good example was Chief MKO Abiola, a southerner from the South/West who defeated a northerner from the North/West, Alhaji Ibrahim Tofa, in his own backyard in Kano state under the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Abiola did not defeat Tofa who ran under the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC) because the presidency was zoned to the South, (there was no zoning in the SDP), but because he was generally acceptable to all Nigerians across the board in both northern and southern parts of the country.  There is no question that Nigeria needs somebody like Abiola who enjoys general acceptability across the board without regard to ethnicity rather than an ethnic imposition through party zoning.

Thirdly, the notion that numerical superiority of a particular region alone determines who wins or loses an election glosses over the undeniable fact that no one region determines the outcomes of a presidential election. The North alone cannot win the presidency all by itself without the support of the other regions. The same is equally true of the South. This reality dictates certain compromises and hard political bargaining. Therefore, to hold as some naïve southern and northern commentators have done that the North would not allow power back to the South after 2015 should Jonathan contest and win the 2011 presidential election smacks of gross ignorance of the dynamics of politics and imperatives of democratic elections. The reality is that no one region or zone can win a presidential election in Nigeria without the support of other regions or zones in the nation, period. For any region or zone to win a presidential election, therefore, it must actively cultivate the support of other regions or zones in negotiated deals, which invariably involve give and take that’s the hallmark of democracy. If the North will not allow other regions in the South to produce the president in future after Jonathan might have left the scene, it equally means it cannot be allowed to produce the president in future as well by the other regions. It’s that simple. If you don’t give in politics you won’t be allowed to take either. Politics is a game of give and take and if one will not give it will not be allowed to take either. That’s the bottom line. So the fear that the North will allow power to come to the South in future is totally and completely misplaced, a product of ignorance and has no basis whatsoever in the present realities.

Fourthly, the “North” is not a monolithic block as some would have us believe. Only a complete political neophyte would believe the bogey of “One North”. Politically, the North is almost as fragmented and disunited as the South, even right from the beginning of the nation’s independence in 1960. The North has never had one single political party to rally around but different political parties just like the South since Independence.

Thus in the First Republic were the NPC and Aminu Kano’s NEPU, in addition to Joseph Tarka’s Middle Belt Congress party, while the South had principally the AG and the NCNC in addition to other smaller parties, all of which had their own followers in the regions, and across the country as well. Therefore, there is no way the entire North is going to vote en-mass for a single Northern candidate fielded by one party to the exclusion of other candidates fielded by other parties in the North. The history of elections bears this out eloquently without a doubt, even in the last elections that brought in Yar’Adua. Some parts of the North voted for Buhari’s ANPP and Atiku’s AC even though PDP had fielded Yar’Adua. That’s the reality. The North will split its votes amongst different parties and different candidates, thereby effectively nullifying the any perceived advantage of numerical superiority to determine the outcomes presidential elections on its terms. Fragmented regional votes can never produce numerical superiority to determine electoral outcomes.


Reasons for Jonathan’s Candidacy  

(1)  To Forcefully Assert the Right of Minorities to the Presidency

Those especially southerners who nurse fears or misgivings about Jonathan’s run for the 2011 presidential election closely mirror the attitudes of some African Americans in the United States who initially viewed Obama’s candidacy for US presidency with utter skepticism and in some cases hostility for fear that it was a distraction that could hurt the chances of the Democratic Party that already had Senator Hillary Clinton as its crowned princess.

Like their Nigerian counterparts, those African Americans based their misgivings on the notion that whites would never vote for Obama and would use their “numerical superiority” to snuff out life out of Obama’s presidential ambition. Right up to the time of the Iowa caucus where Obama trounced Hillary, many blacks doggedly maintained their lukewarm attitudes toward the Obama candidacy and stuck with Hillary Clinton. They only abandoned their fears and went full blast for Obama after he made mincemeat of the Hillary Clinton in Iowa and almost knocked her out in New Hampshire but for his condescending remarks to Hillary during the debates coupled with her feministic emotional outpourings that rallied women to her at the eleventh hour. Remember the “You are likeable enough” remarks by Obama to Hillary during the debate on the eve of the primary and Hillary’s “I have found my voice” remarks that resonated with women in New Hampshire?

African Americans made the decisive turn around in North Carolina to put their stamp on the Obama candidacy and that effectively put paid to the Clinton run. It’s time for Southerners to shake themselves off that self-defeatist notion of the North not allowing power to come to the south after 2015. That is an attitude of subservience which Obama has helped to kill amongst blacks in the United States and it is time for Jonathan to do the same in Nigeria because there are so many southerners out there who do not believe in themselves politically and would want the North to continue to give them political crumbs all the time rather than going for political power at the highest level using whatever it takes. The long military rule dominated by Northerners has helped to foster this attitude of subservice and self-defeatism which the late Chief MKO Abiola had helped to kill but which many southerners still cling to, unfortunately.  It’s time to think straight and turn the corner in the firm belief rooted in democratic ethos that the South or the North could field a candidate just like Chief MKO Abiola that is nationalistic and acceptable to the generality of the Nigerians across the board without regards to ethnicity or geographical background and win hands down.

It’s for this reason that President Goodluck Jonathan must declare his candidacy, just like Obama and MKO Abiola before him, in order to send a message that anyone from any part of the country or ethnic group no matter how big or small has the inalienable right to put himself forward for the nation’s number one seat, without let or hindrance. He needs to send the message that no Nigerian would be denied a chance to vie for the nation’s presidency by circumstances of his birth, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. There is none out there better to do this than the president himself. His participation in the 2011 presidential election in defiance of his party zoning sends a clear message that a party formula is inferior to the nation’s constitution and must therefore be made to give way to a superior force. Jonathan must be a force for and agent of change for the common good.

When he does that he liberates his generation and generations unborn from the artificial strictures put in place to deny them their constitutional right through the back door. By doing so, he helps to rekindle the hopes of Nigerians in their own country and hope matters, even if only a few will make it to the presidency. That the right is there and well preserved for them and their children, is as important as actually utilizing the right itself. As president who has sworn to uphold the provisions of the constitution Jonathan has the burden duty of upholding this right, and there is no better way to do so than by showing a personal example in contesting. He cannot be seen as an accomplice in his party’s quest to disenfranchise Nigerians. Bowing to party dictates to maintain zoning and exclude him would be an unpardonable betrayal on the part of the president.

Jonathan must therefore contest the election to put paid to zoning and he does not have to wait for the party to amend its constitution to allow him do so. His right to do so resides not in his party’s constitution but in the nation’s constitution which we all agree is superior to his party’s constitution or any prior agreement to the contrary, not generally ratified. The nation’s constitution will not be modified illegally through the back door by secret agreements hatched in the darkrooms of party headquarters. 

(2)  To Demonstrate that He can Contest and Win in His Own Right

There is a personal reason why he should contest. Jonathan is today the president of Nigeria. But he has attained that height by default and this has been the consistent feature of his political trajectory right from his days as deputy governor of Bayelsa state. He has never contested election as head of a ticket but always as an appendage to someone else. At a point he must show that he can contest and win election as a head of a ticket and the forthcoming elections present his last opportunity to prove this to the world.

There are some detractors out there who are mischievously contending that Jonathan has “never won” an election and always in power through the misfortunes of his bosses. While the first part of that contention, to-wit, that he has “never won” an election is untenable and obviously debatable, in that we do not know whose votes put both Yar’Adua and Jonathan in power given the fact the North split its votes among Yar’Adua, Atiku and Buhari, while the entire South went for Yar’Adua and Jonathan, it is true that he has consistently ascended power through the misfortunes of his former bosses, whether in Bayelsa as governor, or in Abuja as president.

He owes it to himself and posterity to turn that image around. While he may have personally benefitted from the misfortunes of his former bosses, it does not help his image that he could only get to power through the misfortunes of his bosses. 2011 presents him with a chance to disprove that by being the head of a presidential ticket with someone else deputizing for him. This has nothing to do with the chance of the South/South producing the president or zoning being unconstitutional and undemocratic which are valid reasons in themselves as indicated earlier and in my previous write ups which are political and legal arguments, but a personal reason for Jonathan to contest to straighten out his image as one who only thrives on the misfortunes of his bosses.  He must stand up for himself as a man to do this and not hide under the cover of zoning to chicken out.

(3)  To Actualize the Aspiration of South/South for the Presidency 

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeremadu, in applauding the decision of the party’s 52n NEC to throw the presidential election open to all which he said had rendered “absolutely unnecessary” the planned summit of the South/East to deliberate on zoning and take a stand, was quoted by the Nigerian Sun Times Online edition 081510, to have said the following on this issue of the South/South having a go at the presidency at this time:

“It is noteworthy that on access to the Presidency of this country, the South-South has been the least favoured. This is the first time that somebody from the South-South is reaching that position after 50 years of nationhood.”

I couldn’t have said it better. The distinguished senator is right on the money. Thus over and above the personal reason of Jonathan vying for the office, is the more weighty political reason why he should run without any hesitation at all on his part. By virtue of the privileged position he has suddenly found himself as president of Africa’s biggest nation and largest democracy, Jonathan no longer represents himself as an individual but the entire nation in general and the South/South geopolitical zone in particular.

Whether he knows it or likes it or not, Jonathan is now the official voice and representative of his people very much like President Barack Obama is to the economically and socially marginalized African Americans in the United States. It’s an open secret that this particular zone had until now by default, not tasted political power at the highest level of the nation’s leadership since independence and would have remained so if God Almighty had not directly intervened to clear the way. Yet this is the very zone on which the rest of the entire nation depends for economic survival. God is great! 

What God has put together let no man put asunder. It would be well to take this advice to heart by those who dare God. This region had been denied political power not because it had no presidential materials which abound in the zone, but because it had not sufficiently asserted itself in the past in pursuing its political interests. Like the South/East after the civil war, it had been content with playing the second and even third fiddle to other regions particularly the Northern zones. Each time it made a move in the past its leaders easily buckled and sold out to the Northern zones whose sons it is content to help install in power right from independence and trek home on bare feet with empty hands like an Agbero (motor park tout).

There’s no northern leader who was democratically elected since independence without the support of the South/South. Tafawa Balewa defeated Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the First Republic because the South/South voted for him. That made the difference as to who occupied the State House. Either Zik or Awo could have been Prime Minister in the First Republic but for the South/South votes. And Shehu Shagari defeated Awolowo and Azikiwe in the Second Republic because the South/South voted for him. That made the difference as to who occupied the State House. Either Zik or Awo could have been president in the Second Republic but for the South/South votes.  Let me not include the last election in which all candidates came from the North and Jonathan was paired with late Yar’Adua and so the South/South couldn’t but vote for his ticket even if only because Jonathan was there.

But I dare say that no northerner can be elected president in future without the support of the South/South zone. I have made this point sufficiently clear earlier in this piece that the North cannot win any presidential election all by itself without the support of other zones and the South/South has been providing this critical support for the North all along. If the North has become so ungrateful and will not reciprocate this support for the South/South when it is needed most and trying to use zoning as subterfuge to deny the South/South its support, then of course, it will be time for the South/South to review its political marriage with the North and seek her political fortunes elsewhere. It is therefore incumbent on President Goodluck Jonathan to take a stand on this and act appropriately because he knows more than I do how much the South/South had helped the North to gain political power since independence without getting anything in return.

I’m not an ethnic jingoist and by the way, the South/South is not an ethnic enclave as the rest but a geographical region. But this is the reality we’re dealing with. The region had been acting like the Agbero who treks home empty handed after putting others on a ride. I don’t need to be an ethnic champion to demand an end to political marginalization of any particular region in the nation more so the region that produces the nation’s wealth. I’m taking my stand here. In fact, I would actively campaign for the presidency to go South/East in 2015 in order to put behind us the political marginalization of the South/East before the presidency goes back to the North, this time to the Middle Belt. If we want to give every region a sense of belonging which we claim zoning is meant to do, this is the way to go.  

And let me serve notice here that the South/South will not let go unpunished any act of willful betrayal either on the part of the North and/or Jonathan himself. If certain zones in the North insist on denying the South/South the presidency under the cover of zoning, it doesn’t stop the zone from pressing ahead by fielding a candidate of its choice and enter into political arrangement with individual zones in the country including the Middle Belt in the North and South/West and South/East in the South.

However, at this moment in time, Jonathan is in the best position to help actualize this agenda for the South/South. It’s a god-sent opportunity that must be seized with both hands without looking back at all. And anyone looking back stands the risk of being turned to a mountain of salt as it was in the Biblical times! 

Be warned, folks, the South/South will rise or fall on Jonathan’s shoulders at this historical juncture. And that is reason number one why he cannot afford not to run. He has no choice but run because he has now found himself fighting a cause that is greater than himself. God has made it possible for him to fight this cause on behalf of his people much like God raised up Moses to liberate his people from slavery in Egypt under the wicked Pharaohs.

This is clearly the case for those who have any iota of spiritual enlightenment in their beings. And that would explain why any weapon fashioned against the man thus far has failed. Anyone who does not see the hand of God in Jonathan’s ascendancy to the pinnacle of power must either be an atheist or spiritually dumb and deaf, but we don’t all have to be that way. Like I wrote during the Yar’Adua saga several months ago when Jonathan was denied the substantive office of president, there are many folks out there, Christians and Moslems alike, who, blinded by personal ambitions or group interests are willing to resist the hand of God for as long as it takes only to get their fingers burnt in the end.  Such is the nature of Adamic man. Unfortunately, the spiritually blind and dumb can never realize this until it is too late, if at all. Jonathan is God sent to liberate his people from economic and political bondage. Therefore, the question as to whether he will run does not arise at all in the first place. The question that arises is when he will formally announce his decision not if, and the time is drawing nigh. I’ll give him to the end of this month to round off his national consultations and drop the bomb. The political atomic bomb has to drop at the end of this month and take out all presidential pretenders running around at this time. It positively has to drop. He has no choice but to drop the bomb and let it hit where it might.   

He cannot afford to play the Biblical Jonah who, called by God went and hid himself to evade the call. Jonathan’s candidacy is God ordained and no man can stop it not even himself even if he wanted to. He would be fished out like Jonah even if he went and hid himself somewhere to evade the call. This does not mean that Jonathan would be the president of the South/South, anymore than OBJ was the president of the South/West or Yar’Adua was the president of the North/East. It’s the symbolism of it that matters not the substance. The mere fact that the South/South has produced the president to serve the Nigerian nation sends a powerful massage that would reverberate all over Africa and beyond just like the Obama’s election in the United States did even if Jonathan winds up sitting all development projects elsewhere in the North, East or West with nothing for South/South. As stated above, it’s the symbolism of it that matters. Nigeria will become a positive reference point for the rest of the world.

I have not thrown my hat into this ring because Jonathan is from the South/South or because he is the best material available in Nigeria for the presidency, but because he is a Nigerian citizen whose right was in danger of being denied by his own party. Such injustice cannot be allowed to stand because it creates a terrible precedent and precedents are powerful and difficult to overcome. I would have done the same thing if another Nigerian was involved. We must stand for justice and fair play no matter the target. It’s Goodluck Jonathan today.  It was Abdulrahman Shugaba and Moshood Abiola yesterday.  And it could be Okechuckwu or Nnongo tomorrow. There is no telling who will be the next victim if this is allowed to stand. If I fought and even participated in demonstrations in the past on behalf of these individuals, there is no reason why I should shy away from demanding justice and fair-play on behalf of Jonathan from the South/South today. And that’s why all Nigerians of goodwill should support the Jonathan candidacy, especially those ethnic groups that have been denied a chance to produce a leader for the country. It is South/South today, it could be the South/East or North/Central tomorrow. But now is the time to take a stand and be on the right side of history.

Suffice it to state that God has already written the history of Nigeria at this moment. It’s left for us humans to fit ourselves in. Those who see the handwriting on the wall will take steps to align themselves on the good side of history. But the blind and the naïve will fall by the way side and end up on the wrong side of history. The choice is theirs and theirs alone to make.

Run, Jonathan, Run! Run for the history books. Run for your name. Run for Niger Delta! Run for the South/South! Run for the South/East! Run for all marginalized minority ethnic groups in Nigeria, Africa and the world! Run for Nigeria! Run for Africa, for God has removed the road block erected by the sons of men to prevent you from running. Make your country proud just as Obama has done for the United States. Run for posterity! God is great!

Franklin Otorofani, Esq. contact:

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