2015: Why power must return to the North – Northern Elders’ Forum

by Rachel Ogbu

Prof. Ango Abdullahi  (Photo: Punch)
Prof. Ango Abdullahi (Photo: Punch)

“The North is determined and is insistent that the leadership of  this  country will rotate  to it in 2015,” spokesman for Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) and  former  Adviser on Food Security  to ex-President  Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof. Ango Abdullahi was quoted as saying on Tuesday at a news conference  in Kaduna.

Abdullahi warned that  if parties failed to adhere to the existing  agreement  that the Presidency should return to the region in 2015, the North  would use its numerical strength  to ensure that power returned  to it.

“The North on the basis of one man, one vote can keep power indefinitely in the present Nigerian state. If it is on the basis of one man, one vote, demography shows that the North can keep power as long as  it wants because it will always win elections,”  he added.

On Tuesday at the news conference, six Northern  organisations, including the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Northern Elders’ Forum,  Arewa Reawakening Forum, Arewa Research and Development Project, Northern Union and the Code Group , all agreed with Abdullahi who according to reports said that that the ACF  was in the forefront of the quest by the region to have  a Northerner as  President,  added that  even the  Middle Belt Forum  and    other groups in the region were   clear    in their  calls for a Northern President in 2015.

“All of us have this very tough and common agenda. Not that the North  is  power hungry. No;  it (power rotation)  in 2015 will be argued on  the rational agreement that is on  the ground today,” he explained.

[READ: We will not support Jonathan in 2015 – Northern elders]

The Punch reports:

The former presidential aide pointed out that it was morally wrong for President Goodluck Jonathan to contemplate contesting  in 2015  since he was aware that such a pact existed.

Abdullahi mentioned former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Jonathan as some of those who signed the pact. Jonathan, according to him,  signed as number 37 when he was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State.

“He (Obasanjo) was the first to sign. This particular President (Jonathan) was there as deputy governor representing the then  governor of Bayelsa State. He signed as number 37. It was found in the document,”  the NEF spokesman  claimed.

Abdullahi, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, also said that Obasanjo started the   circumvention of  the pact by seeking a third term in office.

“We  had agreed that the South will have eight years and then, the North will have eight years but when Obasanjo saw some loopholes, he  tried to abandon the zoning as well as the constitution to seek  third term,” the former presidential adviser alleged.

He  noted that even after Obasanjo’s  tenure, the North was short-changed due to the death of President Umaru  Yar’Adua, who only spent two and half years instead of eight years of two terms contained in the  said agreement.

When reminded of a former Information Minister Chief Edwin Clark’s insistence that  Jonathan  must rule in 2015, the former Vice- Chancellor, argued that the South-South where he (Clark) hails from is “a tiny enclave of a few people, perhaps not bigger than Kaduna State.”

Abdullahi added that  the North  would have continued to dominate the political turf if not for the  voluntary sacrifices it  had continued to make   in the cause  of the nation’s  history.

He said,  “Some of us who participated in constitutional conferences  from 1987 till  the last one – the Political Reform Conference – accepted that every part of this country  should  have a taste  of  leadership and this is  the basis of the acceptance of the rotation between the  North and the South.”

He explained  that  it  was based on the afforementioned that the South through Obasanjo had its share of the eight years of two terms  before  handing  over to Yar’Adua, who could not complete his own eight years before his death.

Abdullahi said, “It is obvious the constitution says if the President for whatever reason   is not  there, his  deputy will take over. And this  was why Jonathan  as  vice-president then  became  the President. We thought   at the end of that four years, the North  should   take over. If we didn’t have eight years because of that truncation, at least,  we  should have  had six years  but they said no.

“So, it is mainly on the grounds  that first, there was an agreement for  rotation of power and that there is immorality in their refusal   to  hand over to us that we are insisting on clinching power in 2015. The North is insisting  that the Presidency will come whether on the basis of rotation or on the basis of voting power since  we have the voting power to make sure that it (Presidency) comes  to the North .”

He stated that the  region would pick a competent  person   from  either “the core-north  or Middle Belt” as a candidate for the presidential poll  in 2015.

The Presidency, immediately reacted to the groups’ comment on Jonathan’s alleged  ambition, saying   Nigerians, and not Northern elders as represented by   Abdullahi, would   decide who rules Nigeria in 2015.

Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak,  in an interview with one of our correspondents,   said Abdullahi did not represent the North as the region did not believe in his leadership.

He warned the elder statesman and his ilk to avoid heating up the polity by their utterances.

The presidential aide added that while Abdullahi and his group had the constitutional right not to vote for Jonathan, others also had the right to vote  for him.

He said, “In the first place, Abdullahi is not a character that represents the North because the region does not believe in his leadership. Nigerians will be the ones that will decide who becomes President in 2015 and not Abdullahi. He has no say in who becomes the President.

“As we speak, President Jonathan has not made up his mind to re-contest. People should be calm. This is the time for the President to work for Nigeria. He will tell them when he makes up his mind.

“Abdullahi and his ilk should not heat up the polity. They should act as elder statesmen and not as restive elders.

“They have constitutional right not to vote for President Jonathan. Other Nigerians also have constitutional right to vote for him. At the end, the majority will carry the day, that is the beauty of democracy. Minority may have their say but the majority will have their way.”

Comments (4)

  1. I think its time the Power rotate to East. The should not dominate the Power as if its their only right because this is a country, not just a state. I really don’t know why igbo are not ready and willing to fight for their political right because its due time we secure the presidency !. We igbos are not dull but why can’t we get this right ?

  2. Incidentally, prof Ango has lost touch with the dynamics of nigeria politics. Gone are the days when the Sultan of sokoto was both the political and religious leader and took political decision about who rule nigeria and who should not. We are all living witnesses to the fact that he was thrown into jail by Sani Abacha. Let me tell prof Ango that the north of today is not the north of yesterday. There are so many intelligent and progressive youths in the north today. If Ango has any political ambition, he should come out and work for it because he will not have it on a platter of gold like before.

  3. Mr Ango and his Northern should understand that Nigeria does not belong only to the North. Is the president not entitled to 2 terms.
    If the North is tired of the so called one Nigeria, then they should divide the country. What about an Igbo man, are they not entitle to be a president of Nigeria. I think it is right time an Igbo man get themselves ready and put up a demand to have the country of their own. It is clear that they Norths do not need an Igbo man. Mr. Ango be ready to take your North and rule

  4. People like Mr Ango represent the problem with Nigeria, we are talking about a proper democratic process here he’s talking about an illegal document that is manifestly inconsistent with the constitution. If he’s sure that the north can win by numerical strength then they should vote on election day! No other part of this country has had access to power like the north yet they wouldn’t allow a simple democratic process take its course. Did anyone kill Yar’adua? Its unfortunate that he died but the office of the Nigerian presidency would not be subjected to a village rotational headship scheme.

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