The hullabaloo surrounding the controversial zoning arrangement caused a mild drama,Â Monday, at the Government House, Makurdi, Benue State, when Governor Gabriel Suswam,Â Chief Raymond Dokpesi, IBB Campaign Director as well as Senator Kanti BelloÂ disagreed on the issue of zoning of the 2011 Presidency.
Governor Suswam said during a courtesy call on him by General Ibrahim BadamasiÂ Babangida (retd), the presidential aspirant of the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP,Â in Government House, that zoning should not be an issue in the runup to next yearâ€™sÂ presidential election.
The governor stressed that the PDP should work for the emergence of a good leaderÂ with sterling qualities to govern the country.
He reminded IBB that section 131 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic ofÂ Nigeria guarantees every Nigerian the right to aspire for the Presidency and calledÂ on him to carry on his campaign devoid of zoning but on issues.
â€œThat is why I am contending that the emphasis should be on achievements andÂ service, not zoning which could deny Nigerians the opportunity of electing credibleÂ candidates,â€ Suswam said.
He, however, commended the former Head of State for his achievements, sayingÂ â€œwithout IBB Abuja would not have been what it is todayâ€.
But in sharp disagreement to Suswamâ€™s position, Dokpesi and Senator Kanti BelloÂ insisted that the PDP zoning principle should be respected, adding that zoning wasÂ in the interest of fairness and equity in line with the agreement reached by theÂ founding fathers of the party.
They contended that it was based on zoning that South West was able to produce theÂ immediate past president of the country for eight years, noting that it would amountÂ to injustice if the goal post is shifted in the middle of the match.
Dokpesi stated that Nigeria yearns for a courageous and visionary leader like IBBÂ who has the will power to address the problems of insecurity, power and kidnappingÂ that have soiled the image of the country before the international community.
In his remarks, Babangida, who was in Benue to commission his multi-million nairaÂ campaign office, lauded Governor Suswam for his leadership style, advising him toÂ sustain the tempo of development of the state.
Babangida admitted that he was still new in the political terrain of the country andÂ pleaded for support and encouragement of all Nigerians especially Benue people toÂ better their lot.
Amongst those who accompanied the former military president to Benue State areÂ former Senate President Ken Nnamani, former governors of Ebonyi and Rivers State,Â Sam Egwu and Peter Odili respectively, Salisu Buhari, erstwhile Speaker of the HouseÂ of Representatives, members of the IBB campaign directorate and other stalwarts ofÂ the ruling PDP from across the country.
They were received by Senator George Akume at the Makurdi airport and he hosted IBBÂ and his team in his house.