- Category: Politics
- Published on Friday, 22 October 2010 13:54
- Written by Compass
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SOUNDING a note of warning to those who believe they can play the Northern card to destabilise the country because of their insistence on producing the next President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan yesterday declared that “God will determine the next President and not the arrogant few who seek to play God”.
Reacting to a statement credited to the leader of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) and former Finance Minister, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, that the North would stop Jonathan’s bid at all cost, the President wondered why the elder statesman “has taken on a rather divisive role in the country”.
He said: “Every available indication is that our people are sick to death with the divisive politics of yesterday and those who have been responsible for the country’s underdevelopment and regression. No one should delude himself that he is speaking for the North or any other part of the country for that matter unless they are willing to go along with the people’s yearning for a change, a fundamental change.”
The President, who spoke through the Director, Media and Publicity of the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation, Sully Abu, said despite the zoning formula of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there is no legal hindrance to his bid to contest the post next year.
“While insisting that he is speaking for the North, he has been playing the politics of division in a way which would not edify the country’s unity. The Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation has been reluctant to take on Malam Adamu Ciroma as he leads the charge against the legitimate aspiration of President Goodluck Jonathan to seek his party’s nomination to contest the 2011 presidential elections.
“This reluctance is derived from our utmost respect for him as an elder statesman, a party grandee and a man to whom this country has given a lot. The least the people of Nigeria expect from a man of his status is to help build the country and help repair any ethnic and sectional fault lines that may exist. “But alas, Malam Adamu Ciroma has taken on a rather divisive role. Insisting that he is speaking for the North, he has been playing the politics of division and in a way which would not edify the country’s unity. This insistence flies in the face of overwhelming evidence of the yearning of all Nigerians including those Mallam Adamu Ciroma said he is speaking for to see change in the way this country is governed and especially in their material condition.
“With regards to the PDP’s zoning formula the party, President Jonathan’s ascension to the Presidency and his legitimate ambition, he has decided that he is entitled to contest just as other aspirants. Any loyal party man should have the discipline to abide by the decision of the party.
“The Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation recognises the last-ditch ambition of some aspirants for whom 2011 represents a last chance to fulfil their dream. But that desperation should not be equated with the interest of our people.
“It is Almighty God, speaking through the people, who will determine the future of Nigeria and President Jonathan and not the arrogant few who seek to play God.”
But, former Ambassador and foremost Middle Belt politician, Yahaya Kwande, has told the President that the race would not be an easy one for him.
He pointedly said the Senate President, David Mark, and some governors from the North-Central “are not strong enough to deliver the zone to the President.”
Kwande, who spoke against the backdrop of the resolution of the leaders of the North-Central advising General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, both PDP presidential aspirants to drop their ambition, pointedly told Jonathan that “the Senate President does not have the political influence to deliver any zone to the President”.
The former diplomat, in a statement yesterday, described leaders of the zone who met in Mark’s Abuja house as a “coterie of influence peddlers.”
According to him, the Middle Belt cannot speak with one voice in a moment of political crisis, let alone single out one leader capable of dictating the thinking and minds of the entire North-Central zone. Describing the meeting of the so-called Middle Belt leaders as a “coalition of pseudo-political heavyweights,” Kwande told the Senate President that he lacks the power to dictate to the zone who should aspire for the presidency or not.
Recalling Mark’s infamous role in scuttling democracy in the country, following the unjust annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Kwande wondered whether Mark has any moral authority to speak on democracy, despite having benefitted ironically from a system he once actively helped to undermine.
He singled out former National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, and Mark as “notorious advocates of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s failed Third Term agenda” stressing that they cannot, therefore, now claim to speak on issues that fundamentally border on the political choices of the people of the Middle Belt.
Given the discordant voices from the Middle Belt over Jonathan’s ambition, the Jos-based politician advised the Senate President to “desist from parading a political clout he does not have in an ever-sophisticated Middle Belt region where no leader can boast of being the infallible voice of the people”.
Also, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State has dissociated himself from the decision allegedly reached by Mark and others, advising Babangida and Saraki to withdraw from the race.
Also, the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Campaign Organisation has faulted the report, insisting that their findings from those that attended the meeting did not in any way reflect the a statement that Saraki should withdraw his political ambition.
A statement signed by Suswam’s aide, Idacho Hem, said while there was a meeting at Mark’s residence, the issue of asking presidential aspirants from the zone to withdraw was not part of the issues discussed and imputed mischief in the report.
According to the governor’s aide, Paul Mumeh, the Chief Press Secretary to Mark, was not part of those who met ‘behind closed doors,’ therefore he (Mumeh) could not have been privy to all that was discussed and might have imputed motives into what was relayed to him.
“As far as Governor Suswam is concerned, he cannot ask any presidential aspirant to withdraw from the presidential race as he believes in the sanctity of the ballot box and will want all those aspiring for the Presidency to canvass for votes from party members.
“The newspaper report that the Senate President and governors from the North-Central, including the Governor of Benue State asking IBB and Saraki to withdraw from the race was not put in the proper perspective.”
Also, a group rooting for Saraki in the 2011 elections has described the report as the handiwork of Jonathan’s hirelings who are worried that their aspirant might not get the PDP’s ticket “as he has continued to fumble and wobble”.
The group, ABS Initiative, through its spokesperson, Ogabo Idu, said the purported call by the Senate President and appointees of the President amounts to nothing as they lack the mandate of the people of the zone to call on Saraki or any other presidential aspirant to step down.
Idu expressed the confidence that Saraki would, in a matter of days, emerge the consensus candidate of the North.
The Director, Media of the Saraki Campaign Organisation, Garba Deen Mohammed, said: “Our attention has been drawn to a press release purportedly issued and signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Mr. Paul Mumeh, in which he credited some political leaders from the North-Central zone with a call on Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, one of the leading presidential aspirants of the PDP to withdraw from the race.
“We view this statement as misleading and a reflection of the growing panic from those who feel threatened by Saraki’s increasing acceptability, not only in the North Central, but across the entire country.
“For record purpose, at no time before, during and after the meeting was any call made by any of those present for Saraki to withdraw from the presidential race. This much has been confirmed, at least, by two of the governors who were at the meeting. Consequently, the press release by the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President is a complete distortion of what transpired at the meeting.
“Saraki’s acceptability as the popular choice to lead the nation in 2011 has been on the increase across the country. This is very much evident in the rousing reception he has been receiving in all the states he has visited in the course of his political consultation, especially in the North Central zone.
“The Saraki campaign remains focused and will not be distracted by the antics of desperate political gladiators who want to misinformed the public.
“The philosophy of the Saraki campaign is centered on issues that are very close to the heart of Nigerians. These include revamping agriculture, providing stable electricity, creating jobs and securing live and properties of all Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the Saraki campaign wishes to salute the courage of the Nigerian Senate for the decisions to deal maturely with the proposed amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act. The Senate decision to reject the changes is in line with the popular wishes of Nigerians and will go a long way in strengthening our democracy.”
Meanwhile, a PDP stalwart in Niger State and Senator representing Niger East, Dahiru Kuta, has insisted that the entire structure of the party in the state is backing Babangida in the race.
Kuta, who spoke with reporters in Abuja, said: “We have a candidate in General Babangida. We have decided as a state and as a party to go with Babangida. People of Niger State stand with him. He did it before and we are sure that he would provide good governance again.
“If this statement is coming from anybody in Niger State, then, that person, I’m sure was quoted out of context. Niger PDP has not endorsed Jonathan. We will continue to remain with him as a presidential aspirant of the PDP.
“Our support is solidly behind him for the 2011 polls although we thank President Jonathan for his magnanimity in signing the HYPPADEC Bill into law last August and we would continue to pray for him to finish his tenure in 2011 safely.