A former member of Rivers State House of Assembly, Monday Eleanya, has been murdered in Port Harcourt.
–Col. Umar tells northern govs, leaders
By ADE ALADE
Former military governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar has told northern leaders and governors of states in the region to forget about the much-touted agreement signed by President Goodluck Jonathan to rule for only one term.
The Kaduna crown prince gave the charge in an interview with Saturday Sun against the backdrop of recent statements by northern leaders and some governors that President Jonathan should forget running for election in 2015 based on an agreement he signed not to contest for the presidency after the 2011 elections.
Controversy about the single-term pact was stirred in February when Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu declared in a media interview that the move by the president to run for a second term was against an earlier agreement with the PDP governors to run for just one term.
“What will be, will be in 2015. We must remind people of the promises they have made. When he (Jonathan) was going to declare, governors of PDP were brought together to ensure that we were all in the same frame of mind. Some of us, given the PDP zoning, were expecting that the northern states would produce the President for these number of years but God has done His own.
“At that discussion, it was agreed that President Jonathan would serve one term and we all signed and when he went to Kampala, he said the same thing. But for now, President Jonathan has not declared his candidacy and we must not be speculating based on who are benefiting from such a thing. I believe that we are all gentlemen enough and when the time comes, we will all sit down and see what the right thing to do is”, Governor Aliyu had stated on a radio programme monitored in Kaduna.
Same position was re-affirmed at a press conference in Kaduna last week where six major northern groups, including Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Northern Elders Forum and Northern Union, insisted that Jonathan must honour the said agreement with the governors.
But speaking on the raging issue, Col. Umar said: “If the so-called northern elders had a pact with President Jonathan in which he promised not to contest the 2015 election and which he now denies, then it means that the pact is dead, null and void. Since it (agreement) could not be part of our constitution nor any other law, it is not justifiable”
The retired military officer advised the governors and others opposed to Jonathan’s candidacy in the 2015 election to settle down for serious political campaigns to either stop the president from winning the ruling party’s primary election or the proper poll, instead of relying on a controversial agreement which is not legally binding on any of the parties involved.
“The only option open to them is to plan his (Jonathan’s) defeat at the PDP primaries or at the polls”, he added.
Umar expressed worry that the 2015 election has begun to overheat the polity due to avoidable arguments on who is fit or not to contest the presidency.
According to him, “I must express concern about the destabilizing internecine war raging within the ranks of the ruling class. The warring parties must try to settle their differences, which, from my understanding, is a contest for political supremacy.”
He equally expressed serious concern over inflammatory comments of some leaders who claim to be speaking for particular sections of the country. Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark has of late issued statements warning of the danger of attempts to deny President Jonathan of another term in office.
Just last week, Secretary of the Northern Elders Forum and former Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Food Security, Prof. Ango Abdullahi told newsmen in Kaduna that the various groups in the region were already working together to ensure that power returns to the North in 2015.
Prof. Abdullahi said that if the North cannot claim the Presidency through rotation, it intends to do so relying on its massive population, adding that based on population alone, the North can hold on to power in the country for as long as its people wish.
According to him, “I want to make it absolutely clear to you that the ACF and all these other groups that have emerged in the recent past are committed to the interest that underlies northern interest. There is no question about that.
“The North is determined and is insisting that the leadership of the country will rotate to it in 2015 and I am making that very clear to you. On behalf of all of us, ACF in front because they have been the oldest group and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and our other groups that have been very active and strong.
“All of us are likely to have this very tough and common agenda. Not that the North is power blind, no, it will be argued on the rational argument that are on ground today. The North on the basis of one man, one vote can keep power indefinitely in the present Nigeria state. If it is on the basis of one man, one vote, the demography shows that the North can keep power as long as it wants because it will always win elections”.
In his words of caution against such declarations, Col Umar said: “This is already overheating the polity. I am worried by the tactics of the so-called elders who are claiming to represent the different sections of the country. It is presumptuous for any group, youth or elders, to claim people’s mandate when there is in existence, genuine representatives of the people in states and the National Assembly.”