Power can’t shift to North now, says Ebute

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Former Senate President Ameh Ebute
yesterday faulted the agitation for power shift
to the North. He said the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), led
by Prof. Ango Abdullahi, lacked the mandate to
speak for the three zones in the region. The lawyer and politician noted that the Arewa
Consultative Forum (ACF) and the NEF were
insensitive to the mounting support for
President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term
ambition in the North, especially in the North
Central and Northeast. He urged the region to be patient. Ebute said: “The North has ruled for an
uninterrupted 16 years between 1979 and
1999. It produced five Heads of State – Alhaji
Shehu Shagari, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Gen.
Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Sani Abacha and Gen.
Abdulsalami Abubakar – and nobody organised Boko Haram during that long period.” The former Senate President, who described
himself as a “Middle Belt elder” and not a
Northern elder, praised Jonathan for his
“unlimited tolerance”. According to him, the President has endured
insults and attacks by party chieftains in an
atmosphere of party indiscipline. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain,
who is also the leader of the “Congress for
Equality and Change” and member of the
“National Unity Group”, blamed the five PDP
governors currently on nationwide consultation
with eminent Nigerians for allegedly creating a crisis in the ruling party. He dismissed the conditions for a truce
between them and the President, adding that
their demands were against the 1999
Constitution, the PDP Constitution and the
Electoral Law. Ebute addressed reporters in Lagos on the
Jonathan administration, the Rivers State
crisis, the PDP crisis and power shift to the
North. He said the agitation for power shift to the
North lacked merit, because Jonathan has
millions of supporters in the North rooting for
his second term ambition and because he has
also performed well. The former Senate President said it was wrong
to insinuate that the entire North was
clamouring for power shift. He said: “The Middle Belt and North Central do
not fall into the definition of the North they are
talking about…” Ebute regretted that some politicians were
twisting the meaning and interpretation of
zoning, which he said has no clear definition in
the PDP constitution. He said: “There is this unclear definition of
zoning. We have six geo-political zones. Once
the Presidency goes to a zone, the formula is
being implemented. The South South has not
produced the President before. It is fair and
just that it should go to the South South, according to the PDP constitution.” “Zoning must have a human face so that the
zone that has not had it before should have it.
The North should wait until President Jonathan
finishes his second term, since the President is
from the South South. The North should wait.
They are talking about the North. I don’t know whether the Middle Belt is inclusive. As soon as
he completes his second term, it can come to
the North and the three zones there will
compete for it. The North is not solely the
Northwest.” The Benue State-born politician blamed Rivers
State Governor Rotimi Amaechi for his alleged
over-ambition. He said: “If I were the President, Amaechi
would not have gone far. The President is
tolerant. The action of Amaechi amounts to
indiscipline. He is over ambitious. He wants to
be the Vice President. This made him to take
steps that amounted to anti-party activity.” Reminded that a qualified citizen has the
inalienable right to vie for any position, Ebute
said that “ambition should be expressed within
the context of party discipline”. Ebute chided the five PDP governors for
reeling out conditions that were against the
law, advising them to retrace their steps. He added: “The demands of the five governors
are contrary to the constitution, the PDP
Constitution and the Electoral Law. They said
the National Chairman of the PDP should be
removed. The National Chairman was elected
based on the PDP constitution. The President lacks the power to remove him. He can only be
removed by the National Convention. They said
they want to be state leaders of the party. They
are already the leaders of the party in the
states. This is not based on the law. The state
chairmen of the party are the state leaders.” The Third Republic senator said the All
Progressives Congress (APC) lacked the
strength to dislodge the PDP in the proposed
general elections. He described Gen. Buhari as
a leader in his native Northwest zone and not
the leader of the North. Ebute added: “If I go into the history of Nigeria, I will tell you that the
merger will not work. I and Tinubu were
detained in Lagos. Buhari was Abacha’s adviser
as the Chairman of the PTF. Tinubu should be
careful. What happened to us in 1994 may
happen again.”


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