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Nigerian Students back President Jonathan for 2011

THE National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has thrown its weight behind the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 presidential election.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the national president of NANS, Jude Imagwe, stated that NANS had  assessed the various candidates jostling for the position and had come to the conclusion that President Jonathan was the most qualified person to lead Nigeria.

President Jonathan

According to him, “we are equally unanimous in our scrutiny that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, having served as a lecturer,  deputy governor, vice-president and current president of the Federal Republic of  Nigeria, is the most qualified, efficient, reliable, equitable and fair to lead Nigeria to the promised land in 2011 as Nigeria’s president.

“To achieve the above stated, NANS had already opened endorsement register for President Jonathan on all campuses in the federation while his declaration of Saturday, September 18, 2010, in Abuja had vindicated our genuine intention which we will complement for its maximal success.

“We are, therefore, commencing a nationwide campaign to ensure that all our students register as voters in order to be able to cast their votes for President Jonathan in 2011, as the intelligentsia constituency support for any candidate for the first time in the history of our great nation,” NANS stated.

The students called on the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, to provide voter registration centres in all the campuses in the country to enable students to register with ease.

NANS president announced that the association had resolved to raise funds to refund whoever paid for the nomination forms of President Jonathan by levying each member the sum of N50.

He said the over 40 million Nigerian students would give their total support to President Jonathan to emerge as president to lead Nigeria through the path of peace and progress.

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Katsina State, Alhaji Sani Aminu Dutsinma, has asked an Abuja high court to compel the party and its national chairman, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, to uphold the zoning arrangement of the party and give the presidential ticket to a northerner.

He also prayed the court for a declaration that the North was entitled to the presidential ticket of the party for two consecutive terms – 2007 and 2011 – as the South did in 1999 and 2003.

Dutsinma, a presidential aspirant, also argued that the provisions of Article 7.2 (c) of the PDP Constitution, 2009, as amended, recognised the jettisoned zoning formula, and prayed the court to make a declaration that it would amount to a breach of its constitution for the PDP to sponsor a southern presidential aspirant when the North has not exhausted its two terms of bearing the party’s presidential ticket.

One of the reliefs sought from the court was an order compelling the party, its organs and members to respect and adhere to the provisions of Article 7:2 (c) of its constitution, as amended, by sponsoring a northern presidential aspirant in the forthcoming 2011 presidential election.

The plaintiff specifically contended in his application that Article 7.2 (c) of the 1st Defendant constitution provides for the Executive Committees of the 15th Defendant at all levels to enforce the principle of Rotation and Zoning of Party and Public Elective Offices.

In another development, former vice-president and presidential aspirant of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has warned that President Jonathan’s insistence on running in 2011 in alleged negation of the zoning system provided for in the party’s constitution and the pact of the founding fathers of the PDP is polarising the nation.

According to a statement issued by the Atiku Campaign Organisation (ACO), the PDP presidential aspirant, who spoke on Tuesday in Sokoto in continuation of his nationwide tour, said the country, which he claimed was already divided along regional, ethnic and religious  lines, should be spared further divisions as represented by President Jonathan’s bid to appropriate a mandate allegedly meant for the North.

Addressing thousands of party supporters and party delegates from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states, Atiku said, “this nation has survived thus far, because our founding fathers have maintained a delicate balance between the regions; between the two great religions and among our various ethnic groups.”

He said those who wanted to subvert the unique arrangement of rotation of power between the North and South did not wish the nation well.

“I’m convinced that those who want power rotation jettisoned do not have the best interest of the country at heart. The anti-zoning elements want to plunge this country into a needless crisis,” Atiku said.

He said Nigerians should not personalise policies or jettison agreements freely entered into because of an individual’s ambition.

Atiku warned that Jonathan’s candidacy would eventually lead to the realisation of the illegal third term agenda of former President Olusegun  Obasanjo, which he and other patriots fought against and defeated in 2006.

He asked his supporters to ensure that a northern candidate emerged the winner of the forthcoming PDP primaries to defeat what he called this latest attempt to smuggle third term into the polity.

His supporters promised to deliver the three states to him, saying his visit to Sokoto was proof of the high regard he had for the zone.

Atiku later visited the flooded plains of the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, where he was received by the Army Corps of Engineers. He commended the  engineers for their humanitarian work, which include the provision of ferry and boat services to submerged villages.

He called for urgent repair of the damaged section of the university road and construction of  Kwalikwala/Dundaye Bridge as a permanent solution to flood disaster.

Atiku was welcomed to the state by a motorcade stretching to nearly three kilometres.

In another development, a former head of state and presidential aspirant of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, visited the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, to seek support for his ambition to run for presidency in 2011.

Buhari, who had a closed door meeting for one hour with Pastor Adeboye, said the visit was part of his political moves to seek support and understanding of religious and community leaders ahead of the election.

“This is not the first time I will  be visiting the pastor. My duty is to go round and see men of God and urge them to pray for the success of the elections and to also seek their understanding and support.

This is what I have done and I am very happy about the response to our request,” he said.

Commenting on the plan to change the election timetable to April by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari said it was a welcome decision, adding that it would reduce rigging.

“It will afford the commission more time to register over 70 million Nigerians for the elections, as well as reduce any chance for rigging during the elections. I think it is good because the most important thing is the new voter register, we must get it right so that the 120,000 polling stations and everyone would be aware and know who is who and also ensure that the chance of rigging will be greatly diminished,” he said.

The  presidential candidate in the 2003 and 2007 elections said the last voter register could not guarantee credible elections, adding that many youths who were not up to 18 years during the last elections had attained the voting age and, hence, needed to be registered to vote.

“Some have also misplaced their voting cards, some got missing, some were sold and, therefore, there is a need for a fresh register, which is key to the elections and it needs more time to embark on it if we must succeed,” he added.

According to former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, who accompanied Buhari, the  shift would enable political parties and individuals to prepare better for the coming elections.

“Initially, when I first saw the timetable, I was very uncomfortable with the time for the voter registration, because without a good voter register, you cannot have a clean election, so the issue of voter registration should be more than the time allotted so far and there should be some adjustments,” Masari said.

Masari, who is aspiring to contest the governorship election in Katsina State on the ticket of the CPC,  urged all intending candidates to play according to the rules of the game.

Speaking on his chances of winning the presidential elections on the CPC ticket, Buhari expressed confidence in the readiness of the party to confront all oppositions, both at the national and state levels and cause a major upset in the elections.