- Category: Politics
- Published on Friday, 06 August 2010 05:55
- Written by The nation
- Hits: 2286
THE zoning battle deepened Thursday, with the G-15, led by ex-President Ibrahim Babangida, ex-Finance Minister Adamu Ciroma and ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, putting three issues before the G-20 – the group coordinated by Chief Solomon Lar.
The two Northern groups are expected to streamline their positions on zoning, if they reach a common ground at their meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was underway at Protea Hotel, last night.
The G-15, which has been adamant on zoning, is demanding clarifications on the three issues before it could come up with its decision.
A source in G-15, who spoke with us, said: "From our own end, we have isolated three issues and if they are able to satisfactorily address these, it will shape our final position on zoning.
"First, we have asked them to provide convincing reasons why they decided to jettison zoning.
"Secondly, they said they (the G-20) acted in the interest of the North in dumping zoning but we want them to be specific on how the North will benefit.
"They also claimed that President Goodluck Jonathan should run in 2011 because the mandate with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua was a joint ticket. The ticket will expire in 2015, where will the power shift to if Jonathan is allowed to complete the mandate.
"We want to know whether another Southerner will still take over in 2015 or not. Those against zoning need to be more forthcoming.
"We asked the G-20 for a meeting about three weeks ago; they gave us Thursday date."
Another source in G-15 said: "The two groups have chosen to meet to streamline their positions on zoning, we are hopeful that it will be fruitful.
"On our part, we see a better picture of a united Nigeria with quality leaderships if zoning is jettisoned. We believe that every geopolitical zone has potential presidential material and we should go for the best at any point in time.
"The issue is not about Jonathan but about Nigeria’s future."
Despite the meeting, Atiku remains adamant on his presidential ambition.
In a terse statement by his Media Office, Abubakar he would address a World Press briefing on Sunday.
The statement said Abubakar will "formally announce his bid for the Presidency in the 2011 General Elections. The candidate is expected to spell out his reasons for joining the race."
It could not be immediately ascertained whether Abubakar would be making only a symbolic declaration and step down later for a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A source in Atiku’s camp said: "We are not yet there, it is too early to talk of stepping down, all the aspirants still have to do primaries.
"We are preparing as if we are going for the primaries. When will get there, we will know which is which."
The meeting which began amidst tight security was attended by 10 representatives each from G-15 and G-20 after the initial exchange of pleasantries, the leaders receded into a closed door session with stern looking. Security men in mufti banned movement in and out of the vicinity.
Some of those from the G-15 included the leader of the delegation, Ciroma; former Inspector-General of Police M.D. Yusufu; Ambassador Yahaya Kwande; Alhaji Tanko Yakassai; ex-Governor Lawal Kaita; Magaji Dambatta; and ex-PDP National Youth Leader Bibi Farouk.
On the side of the G-20 were ex-National Chairmen of PDP, Chief Solomon Lar and Chief Barnabas Gemade; Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the US, Alhaji Hassan Adamu; ex-High Commissioner to South Africa, Alhaji Shehu Malami; Prof. Jerry Gana; Balat; ex-Minister of FCT Abba Gana; Senator Jonathan Zwingina; ex-Minister Bwari Bala; Senator Ibrahim Ida; and the current Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, who is one of the strategists of Goodluck Support Group(GSG).
A reliable source, who spoke in confidence, said: "The meeting might at the end of the day come up with a fresh option on zoning, including the G-15’s demand for a written agreement in case of future.
"The G-20 is desperately looking for a midway solution because it does not want a situation whereby the 2011 poll will assume ethnic and religious colouration."
It was learnt that the Presidency was closely monitoring development at the meeting.
A Presidency source added: "This meeting is the last phase of consultation by President Goodluck Jonathan before making his declaration for the 2011 presidency.
"The outcome of the meeting will determine whether Jonathan should brave the odds to go for the poll or accommodate the demands of the G-15.
As at press time, it was not immediately clear why ex-President Ibrahim Babangida and ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar were not at the meeting.
Kaita, who came out briefly, said the participants were having frank talks.