As the battle for the soul of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP rages on it may be time for new thinking. Obviously, the major point of debate is about the rotational presidency or zoning of political party offices. On the one hand are those who say the party zoned the presidency and other political offices between the North and South. These people base their arguments on the fact that the arrangement is actually captured in the party’s constitution.
On the other side are those who want to dump zoning. All sorts of arguments – some inspiring and others downright obtuse have put forward to defend their stance that zoning is anachronistic. But no anti-zoning proponent has ever claimed that zoning is not clearly spelt out in the PDP constitution.
Unfortunately, instead of Nigerians to see through the whole imbroglio for the political smokescreen that it is, the debate has taken on a regional, ethnic, even religious tone. For a country like Nigeria, that is a very dangerous turn of events. But the politicians and their handlers who stand to benefit from the growing chaos are not above this kind of reckless brinkmanship. Of course, when the trouble starts, they are usually the first to depart to their homes abroad. In reality, none of the politicians in the middle of the debate care about the fundamental interests of Nigerians – security, political and economic development.
From a critical perspective, it is obvious that President Goodluck Jonathan and his handlers tragically mismanaged the entire affair, especially as regards the North. The regional champions supposedly fighting for the North are only struggling to ensure that their personal interests are protected. The Jonathan team should have conceded that zoning exists, but sought an understanding that would protect these interests. It should have negotiated the zoning issue in such a way that the Adamu Ciroma’s would be the ones selling Jonathan’s candidature. As is, the confrontational stance assumed has hardened both positions to such an extent that a clearly more strategic option has been left unopened.
But that aside, since the North is finding it difficult selecting a consensus candidate to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan in the PDP primaries, why not settle for a compromise candidate, preferably outside the big four of Ibrahim Babangida, Abubakar Atiku, Aliyu Gusau and Bukola Saraki? If none of these candidates is unable or unwilling to step down for the other, perhaps they may be willing to step down for someone – the proverbial dark-horse. There are many Northerners and PDP members who are qualified for the presidency, though they may not have stepped forward or even indicated interest in the office. Prominent among these are people like Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
A candidature like his would settle the issue of consensus with a compromise and ensure that emergence of a candidate that has a national outlook, international exposure and general acceptability. Apart from the outstanding performance of a candidate like Nasir el-Rufai, while in office, if he or any other credible ‘’dark horse’’ could be persuaded to join the race for the PDP Presidential ticket, the raging crisis in the PDP which is capable of having a multiplier effect on the polity generally, would easily be doused. This would be made possible because by being a dark-horse hitherto, such an emerging compromise candidate has not been part of the political mudslinging between the pro and anti-zoning groups in the PDP.
Also, such a candidate would be assessed on his/her merits rather than the highly sentimental issue of zoning considering the fact that compromise had in time past been adopted as a veritable strategy to cool tensions within the ruling PDP when election or selection of the National Chairman of the party had reached feverish points. If the PDP settles for a compromise, as opposed to the on-going battle of the titans that is capable of leaving the ruling party in fragments once the dust over presidential primaries settles, the polity which is currently being overheated by both sides of the divide would subside without any major negative consequence across board.
The two sides would eventually have a situation that provides a face-saving: while the consensus side would be elated that they probably have had their way, the other side which proffers to bring a breath of fresh air could equally bask in the euphoria that had it not been for the compromise candidate they would have overrun pro-consensus group. Even within the pro-consensus group – the big four contestants currently campaigning could equally subsume their ambition under the compromise candidacy.
In effect, striking a compromise at this juncture has the ultimate capability of serving an elixir that would douse all tensions at all fronts. This is manifestly clear in that the tension being generated by zoning would have been obliterated, as the pro-consensus group would be able to field a relatively unbiased candidate to slug it out with the incumbent who stands as a candidate with the proposition that zoning even if existed is inconsequential.
An adoption of this option would leave the PDP primaries, for the number one job come 2011, more keenly and objectively contested on profound issues of national ethos rather than primordial sentiments as currently being witnessed.
In view of the foregoing, the compromise candidate must be one that fits into other major criteria Nigerians yearn for in the 2011 elections such as the generational change – not within the over-recycled group of 1966; a highly detribalised Nigerian without any trace of religious bigotry and one that is highly brilliant, intelligent, a team player and a great bridge-builder that can effectively steer the ship of the nation aright with not only being a President but a remarkable Statesman of all time.
A compromise rather than a consensus is what the ruling PDP needs if the polity is not to be overheated beyond a level that the fall-out would put the 2011 elections in jeopardy.
Ajayi Olatunji Olowo writes from Abuja, Nigeria. Between consensus and compromise
olaajayiolowo at yahoo.com
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Omotayo, J. A. Lagos, NIGERIA November 28, 2010
Waka-About, USA, thanks very much. I like your argument, but the fact remains that you missed the points raised. I did not praise the National Assembly nor set them as yardstick hence my use of the qualifier "condemnable". In spite of their inadequacies, the National Assembly still found Mr El-Rufai wanting. That is the point. Mr El-Rufai was a lawless Minister in office. He demolished buildings with court injunctions and stay of execution. He turned himself into the accuser and the judge. No court of law pronounced "illegal" any of the demolished structures. Yet he called himself a democrat as if democracy is all about being in civil dresses. When Mr Bill Clinton first came to Nigeria (in 2001?) as president of USA, he made one remark. He stated that he saw a man sleeping under the bridge in Lagos. He added that the man could have been another Mr Philip Emeagwali, professor and computer guru. We need visionary leaders like Mr Bill Clinton but not opportunistic quasi-technocrat like Mr El-Rufai (including his friends who have served or are now serving as Ministers, Governors, Commissioners, etc) who would not care about the plight of the poor and underpriviledged in the society. We do not need fantasy chasing pseudo-administrators and executives. Mr El-Rufai was a misfit in public office and he remains as such. Even in places where disasters have struck, kind hearted individuals, NGOs and governments have always shown interest in relief packages: refuge camps, food supplies, etc. Mr El-Rufai has no human feelings and one wonders whether blood flows in his viens. All the poor and underpriviledged Nigerians, irrespective of their tribe, religion, etc should be treated with dignity by those who occupy public offices. That remains my stand and interest. God bless Nigeria.
waka-about Texas, USA November 24, 2010
@Omotayo - majorly disappointed in you. You bounce from arguing with logic and let your emotions get the better of you. Though I do not have a stance either way on the intergrity of El-Rufai, I find your use of the fact that he was banned from public office by the National assembly as an indictment against him laughable. For all the research I have seen in your articles, do you really believe that the National Assembly went after El-Rufai because of the masses or do you forget that their problem with him started when he called them "fools" and dont you think that had more to do with this than his actions as FCT Minister?
Do you even question why el-Rufai was banned but other "legislathieves"remain in the House ? If the NA was so concerned about the welfare of the people why havent they banned anyone over Siemens, Halliburton, etc? What of all the ministers and reps who were fired for stealing funds, how many of them have been banned? Why haven't Cecilia Ibru, Bode George, etc been banned by your pillars of democracy, the NA, if they were so concerened about the common man.
Please name one action taken by your yardstick National Assembly that you believe has been in the interest of the masses? It's also doubly disappointing that you aren't concerned with the National Assembly banning an individual from public office. What authority do they have to ban a Nigerian citizen from public office? Just recently they threatened a fellow rep with suspension for calling them "tyrants" These are your beacons of democracy?
Also, you seem to be caught up on the issue of demolition of illegal dwellings but I wonder how you miss the word "illegal" in your statements. Though I feel for the individuals that were affected, let us not forget that the structures were illegal. Much as I would like him to have provided alternative dwellings for those displaced the truth is that he was under no obligation to do so. Lets keep sentiments aside and accept that the dwellings were ILLEGAL, period.
I am not out to defend Mr Rufai here but you are making claims and accussations that are based on hearsay rather than facts and I would expect more from you. On this issue you seem to be bent on getting your point across without any facts.
Omotayo, J. A. Lagos, NIGERIA November 19, 2010
My sister, Amina Othman, thanks for your effort. I appreciate everything except that you have not convinced me. First, lack of jurisdiction does not mean acquittal from charges. For example, a man who robbed at gun point in Lafia, Plateau State and absconded could be apprehended in Sokoto State. If charged to court in Sokoto State, his defense counsel could void the proceeding for lack of jurisdiction. The offence was committed in Plateau State judicial area but not that of Sokoto State. The robber would have to be brought up for trial in Lafia or Jos, Plateau State for the court to have jurisdiction. I think that explains the case of Mr El-Rufai and why the EFCC is still after him. Second, if Mr El-Rufai was a man of integrity under Mr Obasanjo but the latter would not approve or implement his policy initiatives, he should have resigned. Afterall, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala did so. Mr Domkat Bali, then a Defence Minister, resigned under Mr Babangida. The late Mr Awolowo did same under Mr Gowon. What stopped Mr El-Rufai from resigning with so much policy failures under Mr Obasanjo? Third, if the condemnable National Assembly still thought it fit to ban Mr El-Rufai, is it not reasonable to take him as a worse offender? Of course, yes. Fourth, I am a man who is very close to the grassroot, the poor and the underpriviledged. I enjoy their company. Thus, it is easy for me to hear their complaints. We enter the same combi bus, taxi, local restaurants, airlines, etc. The tales of the many victims I met so far corroborated one another on their ordeal when Mr El-Rufai demolished their homes, markets, etc in Abuja. The late Othman Dan Fodio has been quoted many times by the Guardian newspaper as saying that "conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it". My conscience does not permit me to distort facts. This is the reason why I write or comment on some topical issues. God bless Nigeria.
Amina Othman Abuja, Nigeria November 18, 2010
Sir, , I am suprised you are talking like this. So you mean we cannot start change from somewhere. So you mean it is crime to save lives? You know negative thinking is the worst thing that can happen to ones mind and soul. The so called law makers you are referring to, how many of them are credidle? I hope you are not living outside Nigeria and that you are not current. They stage managed a probe, found him guilty but if i remember very well there was an argument when the issue of his suspension from holding public office was mentioned.
What happened to the power probe? We would like to know what the lawmakers did with the report.
Please do try and get your fats right. Moreover, these lawmakers are busy doing rubbish and destroying our country yet you are praising them. It is really sad. I would like to know the statistics of the people that died as a result of El-rufa'I demolition. I'm sure you have that so that we can have a good analysis. I will like to see a new Nigeria but with the rate at which we are going, we will never get there. I checked the EFCC website and it was a very interesting finding that amongsts all the people on the list el-rufa'I is on the list but not charged with stealing money, money laundering, etc.
"N0 27. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (Former Minister of Federal Capital Territory
Fed. High Court, Abuja
Arraigned on 8 state counts. Suspect charged for corruption and abuse of office. Plea taken and case adjourned for trial but accused challenged jurisdiction of court as a ploy to delay trial. Case discharged on 20th Oct . Fresh charges filed at FCT High court on 22nd Oct. Suspect at large but returned to the country. Interrogated on May 4,2010 and arraigned on May 12. Due for arraignment on fresh 8-count charge.Commenced by Waziri in 2009."
"EFCC FILES FRESH CHARGES AGAINST EL-RUFAI
Thursday, 21 October 2010
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has said that it has prepared fresh charges against former Minister of the FCT, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. The charges are to be filed at an FCT high court on Friday October 22.
The anti-graft agency disclosed this in a swift reaction to a ruling of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja today discharging the former minister of the eight count charge earlier preferred against him by the EFCC, over the jurisdiction of the court." Remember: You are innocent intil proven guilty by the court.
Kindly check the website for more information. For him to have changed the NIgerian economy: he was part of the economic team but mind you he was not th eperson taking the final decision. He had a President who was doing just that. If he were the President probaly things would have been better. Stay blessed
Omotayo, J. A. Lagos, NIGERIA November 16, 2010
Sentiments do not build a nation. If Nigeria of our dream must be built, we have to ask supporters of Mr El-Rufai some questions. If he banned Okada to save lives, why did he not ban cars due to crashes at road intersections within Abuja? Do the car owners have double lives? If he demolished buildings because they were substandard, which standard ones did he erect for the displaced? If he was a saint, why did the National Assembly ban him from holding any public office for ten years? If he is an economic guru, why did over 800 industries close down between 2000 and 2007 when he was the arrow head of Mr Obasanjo's Economic Reform Agenda? If he was not corrupt, why was the EFCC after him? If he was courageous and fearless, why did he go on self exile? Afterall, the late Mr Gani Fawehinmi put his chest against the barrel of the machine gun at Yaba during prodemocracy demonstration against the regime of the late Mr Sani Abacha. I know that Mr Olisa Agbakoba was brutalised and treated at the hospital that day. Your fearless Mr El-Rufai was not there. What kept him away as a patriot? If the World Bank appointed a few consultants and wanted to make payments, why would your Mr El-Rufai endorse the issuance of BPE cheques instead? If Mr El-Rufai is your model of good leadership, then the dictionary meaning of the phrase must be synonemous with demolision and destruction. God bless Nigeria.