President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday received a rare show of support from some Northern politicians who declared their support for him and that the region should wait till 2019 before producing the president.
The first show of support came from former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Mohammed Abba-Gana, who said on Monday that the North lacked a presidential candidate who can run Nigeria to the everyone’s admiration.
In an interview with newsmen, the PDP chieftain said that rather than the North bickering over the 2015 presidency, it should heed the advice given by former Defence Minister, General T.Y. Danjuma who told them to “work hard, relate well and talk less.”
He also declared that the agitation for a president of northern extraction in 2015 by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) was not supported by all northerners, adding that while there were people who believe in the position of Professor Ango Abdullahi, there are many other northerners who believe that President Goodluck Jonathan should be given a chance to seek re-election if he so desires.
The former minister said: “Danjuma, our highly respected statesman, told our northern elite that the North needs to plan very well. He also said the North needed to work very hard and also relate better and talk less.
“If you ask me, the North needs another four years to plan, to relate better, to work hard and create a programme, so that this Boko Haram crisis, Jos crisis and so on will be settled. And we should search for or groom a leader from the North, who will unite the North and at the same time give Nigeria a very good leadership, but you can’t do this in a crash programme. And all these cannot be done with the governors going up and down.”
In his opinion, by giving President Jonathan a chance for re-election in 2015, the North would be enhancing national unity and entrenching the spirit of fairness. He stated that while groups within the party were free to express themselves, the onus of producing a candidate rested on the party as an institution.
He further stated: “Some people in the North want the presidency to go back to the North and some people also in the North do not see anything wrong in allowing Jonathan to finish his eight years.
“In the North, we have had about eight or nine heads of state of this country and allowing Jonathan another four years will not take away anything.
“We should not be talking as if the North has never had any president. We have had about eight or nine presidents, yet all the poverty, illiteracy, crises are in the North.
“So, if the previous eight or nine leaders, who are the northerners did not make any difference, is it the remaining years of Jonathan that will make the difference?”
In another interview, Senator Emmanuel Bwatcha (PDP Taraba), also denied that NEF members were speaking for the whole of the North. He said that allowing Jonathan contest the 2015 presidency would give hope to all sections of the country that power would one day go round.
The senator said: “Even on the basis of rotation which has become very common language in our political terrain, it is looked as if the South-South would be seen to be serving its second term after 2015 and any other region can have that opportunity.
“It is not strictly on the basis of north and south, we are looking at it from the perspective of regions, because if it goes to the North, it would either be my own region or the North-West.
“Now, the South-South has taken its first turn and it is going to take its second turn in 2015 and we believe Nigeria should give him that opportunity, so that all of us will have that sense of belonging.
“I am a northerner and I am telling you, this is my opinion and I can tell you that the preponderance of opinion of northern minorities is for Jonathan to continue.”
He has an advice for those opposed to Jonathan in the North: “If you would allow me advise them, I would encourage them to back Jonathan, because some of us, the southern minority, had at different intervals, backed them and I think this is an opportunity for them to reciprocate, so that Nigeria can be stable.”