Indications have emerged that the North may dump the All Progressives Congress in a bid to produce the President of the country in the 2015 general elections.
Though the region has always expressed its desire to rule the country in 2015, the narrowing of options within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party has forced the region to embark on a desperate search for any political platform that would bring about the actualisation of its dream.
The ruling PDP has maintained its preference for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid. Since then northern political strategists have been looking towards the All Progressives Congress as a platform to actualise its goal.
But the region has begun to look beyond the APC to any party that would feature a Northerner as presidential candidate in the 2015 election.
Insiders privy to this permutation revealed that this understanding is responsible for the mass movement of defectors into the opposition party.
However, incurable optimists within the northern establishment, insist that the goal of retaking the Presidency is still possible on the PDP platform.
Spokesman for the Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, confirming the North’s desperation in a telephone interview with Saturday PUNCH, on Thursday in Abuja, said the region was prepared to support any party provided it would present a Northern candidate.
He said, “The north was prepared to support a northern candidate for the 2015 Presidential election from whichever party, “whether it is the All Progressives Congress, whether it is the Peoples Democratic Party, Labour Party, whichever party presents a candidate from the north is within the general understanding of our position.”
But what has remained a hard nut to crack for those clamouring for the emergence of a President from the north is the management of the motley crowd of eligible and equally ambitious politicians from the region.
Most of the candidates are positioning themselves for the APC’s presidential ticket.
Some of those being mentioned include: Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwual, former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Ahmed Sani and a former Presidential candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau.
Others are the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and a former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd).
Already, the working committee of the NEF has held an inaugural meeting to kick-start the move towards promoting an acceptable northern candidate for the top job.
He said the NEF was looking forward to a candidate from any of the 19 northern states, for the position of President in 2015.
Abdullahi explained that, it had become obvious by the day that the PDP lacks what it takes to salvage Nigeria hence the need to consider other political parties.
The spokesman said at the time he left the PDP about 10 years ago, he was certain that the party was doomed.
He stated, “My prognosis of the future of the party was not good and I decided I would not be prepared to stay on.
“Honestly, there is nothing left. The party is incapable of correcting itself, and if it is incapable of correcting itself, then you don’t expect it to correct what is wrong with the country.”
Abdullahi also said the forum was determined to work with like-minded groups across Nigeria, to ensure that the next President emerges from the north.
When asked why the NEF went to Kano State, he said, “The Northern Elders Forum working committee had a meeting in Kano and we decided to meet with Kwankwaso.”
Commenting on what was discussed at the meeting, he said: “We reviewed our activities for 2013. And we are looking ahead to see what our activities will be in 2014, up till the election in 2015.”
He said he totally agreed with the position of the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who described President Goodluck Jonathan as incapable of delivering good governance in Nigeria.
However, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, dismissed Abdullahi and the NEF, saying their position did not represent the majority view among northerners.
Gulak told one of our correspondents, in an interview in Abuja that, “That statement was the expression of Abdullahi’s personal opinion. I can authoritatively tell you that he is not speaking for the North. Maybe he is speaking for himself and his few friends.”
He recalled that NEF did not support the President’s bid in 2011 but the President went ahead to win that election convincingly.
The Secretary of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Basorun Arogbofa, said it was opposed to any arrangement to restrict Nigeria’s choice of electable citizens for the highest office in the land.
He said the argument over the issue of zoning was no longer feasible because it was an ad hoc arrangement which was employed to serve a particular purpose.
Arogbofa said, “This particular call for it (Presidency) to be zoned to the North, I don’t think it is right to say it has to be a northern candidate.”
He further argued that even if zoning was to be used as a criterion, the North had held the position longer than every other zone in the nation.
Also speaking on the issue, the Secretary-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Joe Nwaorgu, said what should preoccupy the mind of Nigerians now should be the proposed national dialogue.
He said, “We at Ohanaeze are focusing on the National Conference. We want to go to the National Conference to discuss the way forward for Nigeria. 2015 is far-fetched. Let’s put together a platform for a new Nigeria where justice, equality and relationship will prevail.”
Undeterred, the NEF said those thinking that the skirmishes in parts of the north will continue to polarise the region up till the 2015 elections, were mistaken.
According to Abdullahi, those peddling the rumour that the North is divided should just “wait and see.” He accused enemies of the North of fuelling ethno-religious crisis in parts of the region.
He assured Nigerians that the North will emerge stronger to give Nigeria purposeful leadership come 2015.