- Category: Opinions/Interviews
- Published on Monday, 20 September 2010 07:42
- Written by The Nation
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FORMER National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt.-Gen. Aliyu Gusau is kicking against former military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s presidential ambition, it emerged Sunday.
Gusau, whose resignation takes effect Monday, has proffered reasons why Babangida should not contest next year’s elections.
His action has caused a split among Northern presidential aspirants on the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PPD’s) platform.
The tempo of political activities rose at the weekend, with aspirants intensifying their bid for their parties’ tickets.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who launched his campaign on Saturday, is slated to meet with northern senators this week. But the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) accused him of betraying the North by joining the race.
In Abuja, erstwhile Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chair Nuhu Ribadu met with coordinators of his campaign from the 36 states Sunday.
He denied that he was in the race to split the votes from the North to Jonathan’s advantage. He still declined to name his political platform.
Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki will formalise his entry into the race today.
Gen. Babangida was in Enugu also yesterday to confer with former Biafran warlord Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. His message for the Igbo: "I love them."
Gen. Babangida, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Gen. Gusau; and Saraki, at the weekend, confirmed that they were working together to forge a common front against Jonathan.
Gen. Gusau, sources said, has offered to step down if Gen. Babangida jettisons his presidential ambition.
Gen. Gusau, who is expected to pick his PDP nomination form today, reportedly made his feelings known to some chieftains of the Northern Political Leaders Forum at a meeting in Abuja.
The session was said to be part of steps to gauge the thinking of presidential aspirants by the leaders.
A reliable source said: "The North has a fresh challenge at hand in view of the condition given by Gusau.
"Gusau has agreed with the northern leaders comprising First and Second Republic top politicians and eminent traditional rulers that the chances of the North picking the presidential ticket of the PDP would be enhanced if there is only one candidate from the North.
"He, was, however quoted as saying that he would withdraw from the race only if the leaders could prevail on Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to also withdraw.
"We learnt that he has some grouses against Babangida. He told the elders that when they overthrew the government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in 1985,it was on the understanding that himself, Gen. Babangida and the late Gen. Sani Abacha would govern the country in turn.
"Babangida and Abacha had their turn, leaving him as the only one left to have his turn as president of Nigeria". He was said to have expressed dismay that each time he seeks to actualise his dream of becoming president, Gen. Babangida will also throw his hat into the ring. In 2007 when Gen. Gusau sought to succeed former President Olusegun Obasanjo from the vantage point of NSA, Gen. Babangida also joined the race.
After picking his form today, sources said Gen. Gusau will move to formally declare his aspiration, but it will not follow the jamboree-style adopted by others. "Those who know Gen. Gusau will confirm that he is a methodical person. He knows that primaries are targeted at party delegates, not yet the general public," Director-General of Gusau Campaign Organisation Chief Ben Obi said in a statement.
Ribadu, who addressed his volunteers at Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja, said,
"For those saying that I am being sponsored by President Jonathan to divide the North, what a pathetic thing to think about for God’s sake.
"No, no, I am a honourable man. I can never betray this cause.
"I can assure you, I will never go behind the scene and go into any negotiation with anybody with the aim of deceiving you; with the aim of taking any advantage; with the aim of making it in a way that it will be in conspiracy with others to cheat Nigerians. I will never do it."
Asked on which platform he will contest, he told the coordinators, "you are the platform."
ACF National Publicity Secretary Anthony Sani said: "We agree with former Governor Balarabe Musa that President Jonathan’s decision to run in 2011 has disappointed many of us who stood by him during the ailment of President Yar’Adua to become acting president, including hankering for him to become president way back before his principal passed on.
"Nobody expected Jonathan to contest in view of the constitutional provisions of his own party on rotation and zoning as well as the gentleman agreement by a party that sired him, especially when regard is paid to the fact that these breaches border on national values of honour, trust, social justice, equity, fairness, common decency and sense of commitment."