By Harbor Kenneth Onyeisi.

The Peoples Democratic Party PDP Presidential candidate Waziri Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar no doubt is an experienced politician and an astute businessman but his being a perpetual aspirant for the country’s top most electoral position since 1990s to date is worrisome to the over two hundred million populace especially in this 21st century. The political inconsistency of Atiku Abubakar gives credence to his desperado attitude just to become an elected President of Nigeria at all cost irrespective of the fact that the multi-ethnic composition of the country does not permit a Fulani man taking over from another Fulani man who just completed 8-years of being on top leadership of the Nigeria.

Worse still is the non-compliance to the laid down rules of his political party PDP Article 7(2) which states that the zoning of party offices across the two major geographical zones of Northern and Southern Nigeria in any election year. Whereas in 2014 leading to the election of 2015 while the then President Goodluck Jonathan it was reported then that Atiku Abubakar led a group of northern politicians in PDP to have walked out from the Party Delegate election National congress and they moved against the emergence of a Southern Presidential candidate of the party.

Enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended envisaged situations like zoning and distribution of offices among the citizens as the principle of Federal character is adequately reflected as seen in Section14(3) which states thus “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from few a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”

This principle of zoning was implied in the various political parties’ constitutions or Rules of engagement. For this purpose, Peoples Democratic Party PDP in its constitution Article 7 (2)(C) as Amended in 2006 made provision “In pursuance of the principle of equity, Justice and Fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and Zoning of party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by appropriate executive Committee at all levels.”

But going by the constitutional provisions of the 1999 constitution as Amended, the G-5 Group now renamed with their demand that Senator Iyorchia Ayu should step down as a condition to support the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, it has been matter of point of law which makes the constitution or Rules of PDP going against extant law as made by the parliament Section 42 of the Nigeria Constitution cannot be waived or enlarged by any reason whatsoever and in whatsoever manner. A look at the judgment as delivered by Justice Lawal Gunmi of High Court of Abuja who interpreted Article 7(2)(C) admitted that Article 7(2)(C) is extant and as such is not justiciable for the highly reputed Court of competent jurisdiction to decide which part of the country the exalted office of President shall be zoned to as it is the internal affairs of the political parties to do so.

Bearing in mind that parties cannot by consent waive, enlarge or abridge constitutional provisions as the law is axiomatic meaning that parties cannot by consent waive or decide to opt out the constitutional provisions. There are two cases to support this position. For example, the case of Attorney General of Bendel state Vs Attorney General of the Federation (19813) NLR 1, Justice Idigbe JSC now of blessed memory on page 128 lines 3-9 held that “The principle has always been that courts should indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver and should not presume acquiescence on the loss of fundamental rights.”

And in the second case Justice Kutigi JSC in Attorney General of Abia State Vs Attorney General of the Federation (2002) 6 NWLR (pt 763) 264 at 369 para F-G admitted that “The same fate will befall any provision of the Act which seeks to enlarge, curtail or alter existing provisions of the constitution. The provision or provisions will be treated as unconstitutional and therefore null and Void.”

For the case of G-5 Governors who are relying on article 7(2)(C) on political party zoning post party National Delegates Convention that produced officers of the party is an aberration and unknown in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 42 states that (1) a citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place or origin, sex,, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person-(a) be subjected either expressly by, or, in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizen of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly, or in the practical application of, any Law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizen of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.

This is the kernel of the dispute existing among the PDP top leaders involving presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, Iyorchia Ayu and Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike and his supporters asking Iyorchia Ayu to resign on the basis of where he comes from being his ethnic group or geographical state of origin which if applied by the party contravene provisions in the Constitution especially on his fundamental right as a citizen of Nigeria as enshrined in Section 42.

In support of this argument in the case of Amaechi Vs INEC (supra) Justice Oguntade JSC at page 321 paras F-G ruled that “The political parties in Nigeria are the creation of the constitution. They therefore have an important stake in Flying high and loftily the banner of the rule of Law.” Whereas Section 17 (2) (a) of the 1999 constitution apportions equality of rights and opportunities to all citizens of Nigeria providing that;” Every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law…” In this case Senator Iyorchia Ayu as National chairman of PDP may not tender his resignation until the end of his mandate as national chairman of PDP. What this scenario portends is that political parties should adopt the principle of internal democracy and abide by the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria with representative Government espoused by the political parties in Nigeria.

The political game of Rivers state Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike before the National Delegates’ Convention of PDP was to make sure that his fellow Rivers state indigene Prince Uche Secondus does retain the National Chairman post in PDP which actually worked as he mounted pressure for Prince Uche Secondus to leave earlier than December when his tenure of office should have elapsed. That was how Senator Iyorchuia Ayu was drafted into being elected as National Chairman of PDP. While Nyesom Wike until the ninth hour in the build up to the National Convention of Peoples Democratic Party was sure that he was the aspirant to be elected as Presidential candidate for the 2023 Presidential election. With the political ambush laid against him by Sokoto state Governor Aminu Tambuwal that brought about the swelling votes for Atiku Abubakar.

Take it or leave it Atiku Abubakar as a former Vice President knows about the supremacy of the 1999 Constitution above the PDP party’s constitution and he took advantage of that knowing fully well that by the party arrangement the zoning of the presidential office by logical reasoning ought to go to the Southern part of Nigeria. That the 1999 Constitution as Amended threw the presidential party office open did actual obey what interpretation that there is to protect the fundamental right of every citizen of Nigeria to vote and to be voted as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria if the person fulfils the laid down conditions as enshrined in section 131 of the Constitution of 1999 as amended.

Irrespective of whatever reasons any Northern presidential aspirant must have nursed over the years, common sense should have been put into play to allow a South Eastern presidential aspirant to emerge. It is called political maturity and not self-aggrandizement which Atiku Abubakar displayed as he put himself forward to be elected as President of Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023. If Atiku Abubakar succeeds and emerges victorious as elected President of Nigeria, it will bring more turmoil and political disharmony in the country. It is this coming political equilibrium that Rivers state Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and his supporters are now agitating for which although unconstitutional but by doctrine of Necessity will bring peace and harmony amongst citizenry. It is therefore incumbent for all well meaning party men and women to listen to the G-5’s Integrity Group and do the needful for Nigeria needs outspoken politicians like Nyesom Wike. And the citizens of Nigeria need peace and progress.
For Rivers State Governor Wike and his group of supporters that cut across 14- States of Nigeria, PDP Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar and his team out to understand that if in 2014, he gave Goodluck Jonathan, a sitting President who emerged as a Presidential Candidate of same PDP condition to step down and relinquish the mandate that was given to him by the party in a National Delegates’election convention it’s a good measure for Governor Wike to also demand for a balance of power in PDP for a harmonious administration of the party affairs. If what Atiku Abubakar and his group did in 2014 to support APC which brought Muhammadu Buhari into office it is then morally justified for Integrity Group which Wike leads to Support another Presidential Candidate of their choice. As it stands today, how Atiku Abubakar feels retaining political power in the Northern region after President Mohammadu Buhari’s eight years in office? Be it as it may what’s good for the geese is good for the Gender. If his logic in 2014 was that Southern Nigeria can’t become President for more than 6- years in office now that President Mohammadu Buhari had spent 8- years in office, is it then logical and morally justified for a Northern Nigerian Fulani to remain as President of Nigeria for 16- years in office from 2023 to 2031?
This is against the rotation of political power which naturally without disrespect to the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, adherence to the Federal Character constitutional provisions is now tenable here as the Integrity Group led by Governor Wike is asking that Iyorchia Ayu should step down for them to give adequate support to the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar.

  • Harbor Kenneth Onyeisi is the coordinator of Coalition Of Twins Plus World Wide, a Political Analyst, and a Social critic based at Port Harcourt Rivers State
    He can be reached via email:


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