The clamour for Nigeria’s Presidency took centre stage yesterday as Elders from the North insisted that the region is prepared to take what is rightly theirs presidency in 2015.
Northern Elders Forum Secretary Prof. Ango Abdullahi said in Kaduna that the various groups in the region including ACF and MBF, were working together to ensure that power returns to the North.
Abdullahi, a former Special Adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Food Security, explained how the North entered into an agreement with his former boss on rotational presidency in line with constitutional provisions adding that the purported document on the agreement was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, who was then deputy governor, on behalf of Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Abdullahi, who spoke at a press briefing, said he was speaking on behalf of the NEF.
According to him, if the North cannot have back the Presidency via rotation, it intends to do so at the polls using its massive voting population.
Stressing the voting strength of the North, the former Vice-Chancellor said on the basis of one man one vote, the region could hold on to power indefinitely.
Abdullahi said: “I want to make it absolutely clear to you that the Arewa Consultative Forum (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 is on the 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.”
The NEF scribe noted that rotational presidency between the North and South was accepted many years ago at the 1987 Political Reform Conference, where it was resolved that every part of the country should be part of the leadership.
He recalled that the North had always made sacrifices in the interest of the country, adding that “some of us who participated in conferences – Constitutional Conferences from 1987 till the last one, the Political Reform Conference, it was accepted that every part of this country should feel part of the leadership and this is the basis of the acceptance of the rotation between the North and the South.
“This is what happened in the constitutional conference. There was no question of geo-political zones. The geo-political zones were later introductions. So when this happened, of course, the argument was that it was supposed to be in the Constitution, but the government in power at that time said this ought not to be in the Constitution but should be something that parties can use to attract support and growth from all parts of the country.
“This is what the PDP, the ruling party now, accepted quickly and I was part of the constitution drafting for the party. We incorporated rotation between the North and the South.”
Abdullahi recalled that the North allowed Obasanjo to become President in 1999 to pacify the Southwest over the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election believed to have been won by Chief M.K.O Abiola.
“These are the cumulative things that we decided that the South should start. That was how eventually Obasanjo came to be our president under that arrangement and it was clearly for four years. And then when he asked or rather begged for the arrangement to be extended to match the constitutional provision that the president could go for two terms, it was extended in an expanded caucus that the initial four years be added another four years, making it eight years for Obasanjo.
“All of them were present. He was the first to sign quickly. This particular president (Jonathan) was there as deputy governor representing the governor of Bayelsa state at the time. He signed as number 37. It was found in the document.
“So you see, we agreed that the south would have eight years and then, the north would have eight years but when eventually, Obasanjo having seen some lacuna, he even tried to abandon the zoning as well as the Constitution to seek for third term.
“And we are now saying that since there is no consideration on morality and so on, the north is going to insist that the presidency will come whether on the basis of rotation or on the basis of voting powers and we have the voting power to make sure that it comes here.”