According to Alhaji Abdulrahman Mohammed, former ACF Political Secretary, “if we have to obey the zoning order it has to be from the North”

Kenny Ashaka

The emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded convention of the party held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has created a division among northern political leaders. They are split into two groups as strong emotions are now building up among them.

Outburst of mixed feelings of emotional resilient displeasure and great happiness were freely revealed at the weekend as some of the leaders gave enthusiastic support to the emergence of Atiku.

According to Alhaji Abdulrahman Mohammed, former ACF Political Secretary, a security surveillance expert and erstwhile adviser on politics, security and economy to the late ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Wazirin Jema’a, Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, “if we have to obey the zoning order it has to be from the North and while it is there we are trying to make sure we put our best foot forward.

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“Buhari has disappointed everybody. He is not our best foot forward, if we put him on the scale of things in Nigeria. As for Atiku, as bad and dysfunctional as the situation is, he is better than Buhari a million times. So, if the rule of Pharaoh, if Buhari is insisting on going on to rule Nigeria, God that removed Pharaoh will remove Buhari. And that is what we are thinking right now.

“Atiku, even though people criticize him, he is the best we can give at the moment. He understands leadership. All the things happening in Nigeria and all that happened between him and other aspirants is about one Nigeria, not about anti-corruption. Nigeria belongs to all of us. With the corruption Buhari is fighting they are still stealing black and blue in Aso Rock.

“If Buhari and his household are enjoying Nigeria’s money why should the poor people continue to wallow in poverty and squalor? So, Atiku is bringing a ray of hope for Nigerians and that is why they will vote for him.”

Mohammed was supported by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF leader, Yerima Shettima, who told Sunday Sun that the emergence of Atiku is a welcome development.

For Shettima, the former vice president has the capacity to face those he described as monsters, “who are against the collective interest of Nigerians and Nigeria,” adding that “for all I know about him personally, he has the capacity.”

Although he noted that the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum is not partisan, the northern youths’ leader eulogized Atiku for believing in Nigeria and not being nepotistic, remarking also that his conviction about Atiku’s capability to turn things around was not being misplaced.

But Second Republic governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, disagreed, saying that Buhari is better than Atiku, hinging his support for Buhari on the backing of Atiku by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his former military colleagues.

He said such a support was indicative of a gang up by the ruling elite in the country, insisting that Nigerians are safer with Buhari than Atiku.

“I have not seen any qualitative demonstrative difference between him and Buhari and between APC and PDP. The negative state of the nation will not change. We still need qualitative, demonstrative third alternative. Whether that can come under the present realities of Nigeria is another matter,” he said.

Asked to limit his choice of candidate to between Atiku and Buhari, Balarabe submitted: “I hope I will not have to choose, but as I said if it becomes impossible under the conditions in Nigeria to have a third alternative and it is possible with the dilemma in which we are in Nigeria, if we are unable to get a third alternative, in that case I will rather go for Buhari because he is the reality on the ground.

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“And with the alliances that the PDP has now, particularly in the form of former Heads of State who contributed immensely to the negative state of the nation, in view of that alliance I think the table has turned from 2015 to 2019. In 2015 we thought because of the fascist tendencies of Buhari the PDP and Jonathan were less fascists, but now the table has turned to make the PDP even more fascist than the APC because of its new alliances with the former Heads of State.”

However, Dr Umar Ardo, secretary of Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly, former governorship candidate and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Adamawa State and former Political Adviser to Atiku who sued President Muhammadu Buhari for conferring honours on the late MKO Abiola and Amb. Babagana Kingibe, refused to comment on the Atiku candidacy in his party.

Asked to comment on the emergence of his former boss as the PDP standard bearer, Ardo quickly shot back thus: “Kenny, I don’t want to express an opinion. Just say I do not want to express an opinion. That some people are keeping mum is in itself a story.”

Ardo had previously criticized the Buhari government on two grounds: “I cannot see the president being re-elected for two reasons. First, he has not made any appreciable impact in improving the standard of living of Nigerians; if anything, things have deteriorated. Secondly, it is apparent that the president cannot effectively utilize power for the benefit of society.”

Also, Dr Junaid Mohammed, an elder statesman, former Second Republic lawmaker and maverick politician and fierce critic of the Buhari administration would not want to comment on the emergence of Atiku as the PDP’s presidential candidate.

Here is an excerpt from his short encounter with Sunday Sun: With the emergence of Atiku as the presidential candidate of the PDP, would you say the political equation has changed because this is a direct battle between Buhari and Atiku?

Well, somehow I have not decided to speak on the issue. I have not spoken to any media outlet; so not now. Maybe I will have to study the matter very closely. You know I am not a member of APC or PDP. Frankly, I think it is premature to pass any comment now. I will like to study the situation and see what happens. But I have observed that there is not much commentary. I don’t know if that is supposed to indicate the state of mind of the people. I don’t know.

But have you been speaking the minds of the people or your personal convictions in your earlier comments?

It’s my conviction.

Why would you not speak now stating your conviction on the matter?

I said I have not studied the situation. So, when I study the situation and make up my mind I will speak. I have never been anybody’s megaphone. Sometimes my convictions tally with what others think and sometimes it doesn’t.

Pressed further, Junaid said: “I said I am not going to comment on that. I am sure you just want to be a journalist that you are. You heard me loud and clear. I don’t intend to comment.” A reliable political source told Sunday Sun that, ”they are intimidating some of the politicians in the North.

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Wallahi, they are intimidating them, although there are those not talking based on principles. And some of them have been reached from Abuja. Those that have been reached are no longer as vocal as they used to be.

I do not know if you have observed that.”