2011:JONATHAN MOVES TO AMEND 2010 ELECTORAL ACT.

Despite the signing of the reviewed Electoral Act by President Goodluck Jonathan last week Friday, the Presidency has already initiated a process of sending an Amendment Bill on the Electoral Act to the National Assembly.

In fact, the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has set up a committee with the mandate of vetting the entire Electoral Act.

According to an impeccable source in the Presidency, the President has already registered his complaints to some members of the leadership of the National Assembly who met with him last weekend at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to the source, the President identified two major areas where the new Electoral Act needed to be amended.

These are the sections relating to how primaries for the presidential election are to be conducted and the other being the designation of the special delegates for the primaries.

It was gathered that Jonathan is not comfortable with the provision of the new law, which specifies that the primaries for the presidential election should be held on state to state basis rather than the previous practice where the presidential primaries is held at a specific venue on a particular date, with all delegates gathered.

Our source further revealed that the concern of the President’s campaign team is that if primaries for the presidential election are staggered, Jonathan’s campaign team will encounter a peculiar problem in reaching out to the delegates in many of the states, especially in the North, a situation that could leave primaries entirely in the hands of the state governors.

The source said, “The President is not comfortable with the provision that primaries for the presidential election should be held from one state to the other.

“The major concern here is that if all the delegates were to converge on a venue to elect the presidential flag-bearer of the party, that way the President’s anchor men will have the opportunity to reach out to all the delegates.

“But if the provision that the primaries should be held separately is allowed to stand, then it means that the governors will be more on top of the situation.

“And if there is anything the President’s team will not accept in this race, it is leaving anything to chance.”

Again, the source said that the other area where the President has picked a hole in the reviewed Electoral Act is about the designation of special delegates for the election.

The source said that the concern of Jonathan is that his appointees, especially ministers, should be allowed be vote at the primaries as special delegates.

The source said, “Another critical area where the committee set up by the President is looking at is the designation of special delegates for the primaries.

“The President wants all his cabinet ministers to vote during the presidential primaries and it is one of the areas expected to be amended in the Electoral Act.”

Although the source did not mention the names of members of the committee that will vet the Electoral Act, the source however added that members of the committee will include some appointees in the political office of the Presidency, some state governors and other appointees of the President.

The source also said that the committee is expected to submit its report to the President “any time soon.”

The source said it was after that that the Presidency would forward an amendment bill on the Electoral Act to the National Assembly.

It was gathered that Jonathan decided to sign the Act into law in order to fast track the preparation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2011 elections.

Sources said that Jonathan was worried that the fears expressed by the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, that the enabling laws that would aid the conduct of the 2011 elections had not been signed into law, could affect the conduct of the elections.

It was gathered that Jonathan signed the Electoral Act after expressing his misgivings about certain aspects of the law to the ranking members of the National Assembly.

A source in the Presidency said, “There is no doubt that there are issues with the Electoral Act as presently signed into law by the President.

“But the President was quite conscious of the need not to give any room for reasons to be given for the failure of the 2011 elections.

“Hence his decision to sign the bill into law and then complain thereafter.

“Now, he has made his position known and something is, certainly, going to be done about it.”

In another development, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has again restated its position that the zoning of the presidency remains strictly an affair of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

For the umpteenth time, the Chairman of the ACF, General I.B.M. Haruna (rtd.), has maintained his stand that the group cannot speak or decide on zoning, being the internal affairs of the PDP.

Haruna’s unflinching position is contrary to recent reports that the Northern social-cultural group has endorsed zoning as a panacea for national stability and progress.

Haurna, who spoke in a telephone interview with the Nigerian Compass on Sunday, said, “What do you want to hear from me? Is it on zoning?

“I have said it and let me repeat it again that ACF can’t speak on zoning. It is a PDP affair. It is their matter and ACF can’t decide or tell PDP what to do with its matter. ACF can’t speak on zoning. Period.”

Haruna got a support from the President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Shettima Yerima, who also said that the ACF has no right to decide on zoning since the group is not a political party.

Yerima also agreed that zoning is a PDP issue.

He said, “Everyone knows I disagree with General Haruna on some issue. But I agree with him on the issue of ACF and the zoning. I don’t think it will be right for ACF to continue wasting time on zoning.

“There are other things the ACF should do to ensure that the North gets power in 2011.

“Arguing on whether it is endorsing zoning or not will not help the interest of the North.

“The ACF should learn from other ethnic groups like the Afenifere, Ohaneze and the Ijay Youth Congress (IYC), who have not made any pronouncement on whether they are supporting zoning or not.”

Haruna stressed that no dominant race should think of holding on to the political space like the racist did in South Africa.

He added that it is expected that in zoning and power sharing every political unit from the family, to the tribe and geo-ethnic areas and religions are part and parcel of the web of political netting that will make the Nigerian sovereign state a strong nation.

He added, “Power sharing is a principle.

“But the details or content of who exercises or gets what and on what basis will change over time.

“It will not continue to be you are a Southerner, Northerner or you are an Easterner.

“In any event, the main reason of effecting governance is to ensure the wellbeing of the people.

“Whoever holds power has to exercise it in accordance with the law and oath of office and above all, the person’s perception of the wellbeing of the Nigerian people.

“So, it is not an issue of turn by turn, to give licence to a particular individual or group to corner all the access of the state to their own selfish interest, such that their successors will retaliate by depriving others what is due to them.

“The issue regarding PDP and Northern candidacy for the presidency in 2011 is left for the PDP to decide.

“There is no law that said that a Northern president must emerge in 2011.

“Zoning, characteristically, has been a part and principle of power sharing.

“It is entrenched in the constitution within the concept of federal character, state and local government character.

“Across the board, power should not be seen as concentrated in one particular family, ethnic group or geopolitical zone.

“There are other branches or units of power, which are equally important: the judiciary, legislature and other top government offices in and outside the country are very important and they will be occupied by Nigerians across the zones we have.

“It is true that the president represents the central power, but there are other institutions that are equally important.

“For example, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and several others.

“I know that the focus is on the president, but everybody will not be president at the same time.”

It will be recalled that the ACF recently after a meeting chaired by the National Chairman of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), General Jeremiah Useni (rtd.), issued a communiqué insisting on zoning and Northern presidency in 2011.

The Useni-chaired meeting also urged all political parties to field candidates of Northern extraction for the 2011 presidential election.

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