The pan-Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) spokesman, Anthony Sani, told The Nation exclusively that President Jonathan has enough time between now and 2015 to address the problems within the ruling party adding that the events in the party are not healthy for the growth of democracy.
He said: “Our understanding of the G-5 governors is that they want governors to be carried along in the management of their party, they want internal democracy and they want an end to divisions as well as internal democracy within the party, and for President Jonathan to respect agreements he entered into voluntarily with stakeholders.
Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu, has said that President Jonathan entered into an agreement with Northern leaders to spend only one term in office. The Niger governor urged the President to honour the agreement by not seeking reelection.
However, the Presidency official have denied the existence of such an agreement, insisting that the President is yet to declare interest in running for a second term.
“The five governors may not be totally wrong, considering the happenings in the ruling party, which convey an impression that PDP is at war with itself, which is unhealthy. More frustrating is the inability of 35 governors to elect their leaders, which some people believe is pointing to what will happen in 2015. But I hope Mr President has enough time to bring the situation under control before 2015.”
Sani said the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would open up the democratic space and offer Nigerians alternatives during elections.
Said Sani: “The registration of APC gladdened our heart because it could bring about a viable alternative platform to the ruling party, since democracy without a viable opposition is a sham.
“More so that ACF has recommended a two-party system for the country, with clear choices on how to assume responsibility for real issues of real concern to real Nigerians. Before now, Nigeria claimed to operate a multiparty democracy, yet all the parties have been mere clones of one another.
“As a result, the choice for the voters has been reduced from which party could deliver on the promise of democracy to which party had the capacity to win elections. We hope the registration of APC will arrest such a trend by enriching the polity with democratic tenets for public good.”
Sani also said that the ACF believed that “President Obasanjo may not be totally wrong to submit that the feckless performance of leaders in our climes is at its worst with the younger generation, since the younger generations have been in the driver’s seat for quite some time now without sign posts to improvement.
“All we hear are security challenges posed by insurgents, by armed robbers, kidnappers, baby factory, militant activism, piracy, unemployment and corruption, that have combined to steal Nigerians’ empowerment, their opportunities and their future.
“That is why Nigeria carts home gold medals in Misery Indices and brings up the rear in Human Development Index. And this is made possible because the youths who are more in number and can bring about good leadership in a democracy have failed to make judicious use of their democratic rights and ensure that votes count so that the leaders who emerge would be accountable to the people. Once votes do not count, the leaders would not account to the people.”
To Sani, the renewed killings by the Boko Haram Islamic sect, are “not surprising because terrorism is driven by the highest commitment of those who believe they have nothing to gain anymore in living on earth, but more to gain in death. “And so, nobody expected the task of subduing the sect would be a tea party.
“You recall when America overran terrorists in Iraq and deposed President Saddam Hussein, President George Bush boasted that it was, “Mission accomplished with precision”, without knowing that would be the beginning of more than 10 years campaigns that would cost America 4,400 soldiers and over $800 billion.Terrorism is still in Iraq after America has left.
“We believe the government knows that the use of force that goes with declaration of state of emergency was meant to reclaim those local government areas seized by the sect, and not that the use of force could contain their activities to some satisfactory level.
“And that is why there are still consciously directed efforts by the government to bring the sect into the negotiation table. And that is why ACF encourages the Federal Government to pursue the option of dialogue with those members of the sect who are agreeable to it in the hope that the extreme reluctant members may join as the process progresses.
“We also call on members of the sect to stop the killings of innocent people and embrace dialogue as the only viable option that can address their perceived grievances. Force does not bring about peace because peace is not absence of conflicts but ability to resolve conflict peacefully.
“ACF was among the groups which pressurised ASUU to dialogue with the government that brought about the agreement being bandied about. As a mark of good faith, one would expect the government to respect and implement the agreements with stakeholders.
“But if the prevailing circumstance makes it almost impossible for government to implement the agreement, one expects ASUU to know and understand. It is against this backdrop that the ACF calls on both parties to come to terms with reality and make ASUU call off the strike in the interest of the students.
The ACF recommended “the scrapping of the Joint Account, which has been abused by state governments at the expense of socio economic development of the people who are closest to local governments, provided some provisions are made on how state governments can make laws to help in effective and efficient management of local governments”.