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Presidential Polls: How INEC Worked Against Southern Interests -Okurounmu |RN

Outspoken Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu has accused INEC of working against southern interests in the recent presidential election. He also accused APC leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of using his personal interest to endanger the lives of other Yoruba people across the country. He spoke on these and other national issues in this interview conducted by TUNDE THOMAS.

What is your reaction to the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari over Alhaji Atiku Abubaka in the presidential election?

Buhari’s so-called victory was made possible through the collusion of INEC officials and the security agents that were deployed for the polls. The presidential and national assembly elections were marred with a lot of irregularities. To make matters worse, INEC officials and security agents openly worked for Buhari and APC, instead of being neutral. They openly supported Buhari and APC. It was glaring that INEC was acting out a script and that script was to dance to the tune of Buhari and APC. The election was far from being free and fair.

Again look at the number of deaths, the number of Nigerians who were sent to their untimely graves just because a clique wants to remain in power at all cost. Buhari has nothing to rejoice about. That election was a setback for our democracy. The president and his party members didn’t allow the will of Nigerians to prevail. Thank God Atiku has gone to court to challenge the outcome of the charade called election.

Are you saying that INEC compromised?

Obviously. INEC didn’t live up to expectation. It was glaring that INEC compromised and that’s why I described INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, a big failure. In several parts of Nigeria, especially in the South, millions of voters were disenfranchised especially in areas perceived to be strongholds of opposition parties. To show you how biased INEC was, while INEC insisted on the use of card readers in the South, same rule was not applied in the North and all manners of people were allowed to vote. At the end of the exercise INEC was declaring millions of votes in the North while working against the interests of the South. The situation portrayed INEC as having a hidden agenda. This is why Afenifere spoke out against some of these evils that took place during the presidential and national assembly elections. Imagine how APC supporters and thugs unleashed violence on voters in Oshodi, Okota, Isolo and some areas where they felt the party was not popular among residents. We are against the attacks on Igbo and other non-Igbo who were victims of APC supporters and thugs attack. We are all Nigerians and nobody has any right to impose his own will on others. You can’t force me to belong to your own political party or force your ideology down my throat. It is a free world and there should be freedom of choice.

As Lagosians  file out on Saturday to cast their votes to pick the next governor of  the state, what is your advice to the parties, the electorate, INEC, and security agents?

Lagosians don’t have problem with one another. Lagos has always been a melting pot for all Nigerians, and people have been living together in unity, and harmony. We are shocked by the action of APC supporters and thugs  during the national assembly and presidential elections. There should not be a repeat of that show of shame during the gubernatorial elections. I advise security agents to be alive to their responsibilities. How can thugs, hoodlums and street urchins be attacking people and security agents would be found wanting?

I’m also shocked that when those thugs attacked people penultimate week neither APC national leader, Bola Tinubu and Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu deemed it fit to speak out against the evil. Even up till now neither of them has condemned those behind the attacks. Even the governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambode  failed to speak out and this was why Afenifere spoke out in order to douse tension. Afenifere spoke out to reassure non-Yoruba living in Lagos that the attack on them was  not by Yoruba but by some thugs who were  working for some political overlords. Yoruba are peace loving, and we will continue to promote and exhibit virtues that will continue to strengthen the bond of unity among Nigerians. Although we were initially shocked that Governor Ambode didn’t speak out but we later understood his own predicament. Ambode is also being persecuted by Tinubu and other APC leaders. But these people should stop playing God. They should not  endanger Yoruba interests because of their own selfish interests. Voters in Lagos should not be intimidated. They should be allowed to exercise their fundamental rights in an atmosphere devoid of harassment and intimidation.

Now that Buhari has won the election, what advice do you have for him?

Buhari has gone beyond advice. Buhari already has a mindset and that’s why advising him is a waste of time. Buhari is opposed to restructuring of Nigeria. He wants the status quo to remain. But the fact still remains, whether Buhari wants to believe it or not there is no alternative to restructuring. Afenifere leaders’ opposition to Buhari is not borne out of  hatred but  out of our desire to have a country where there is justice and equity.

Look at the herdsmen menace, Buhari has failed to curb it simply because the herdsmen are his kith and kin. But  the nefarious activities of herdsmen have been leading to loss of lives on daily basis across the country. But for how long will they continue to go on rampage before Buhari will deem it fit to find a solution to their menace?

Some Nigerians who have expressed joy over Buhari’s victory have declared that his re-election will enable him to  sustain the war against corruption and carry out other reforms that will transform Nigeria, what’s your take on that?

Which war is Buhari fighting against corruption? Is Buhari truly fighting corruption, when his right hand man, and APC National Leader Bola Tinubu put bullion vans containing money in his compound ,and EFCC is looking the other way? To rub salt upon injury, when he was confronted about the propriety of what he did, instead of being sober Tinubu said he has the right to keep his money anywhere including his house, and  some people say Buhari is fighting corruption. Remember  also what APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole said publicly that any looter that joins APC will be forgiven his sins, and you say Buhari is fighting corruption. Buhari’s war against corruption is a mockery. It is not only one-sided but also selective.   (The Sun)

 

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Military Should Change Strategy To Win War Against Boko Haram – IBB |RN

John Adams, Minna

 

As Nigerians prepare to go the polls in less than 30 days, former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, has urged the military to change strategy in order to defeat Boko Haram.

General Babangida also urged the military to ensure it remains apolitical and face its constitutional responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country from external aggressions.

In a statement issued in Minna, capital of Niger State, personally signed by him, yesterday, to mark this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, he pointed out that “it is pertinent for the top echelons of our military to speedily evolve new combat strategy to bravely confront the callous terrorists who have continued to hold many parts of the North East, and in extension, Nigeria in ransom.

“As we prepare to celebrate this year’s Remembrance Day, we should not be oblivious of the fact that our military is presently faced with horrific challenges in the crucial counterinsurgency war, and activities of other blood-thirsty armed groups.

“To say the least, these ugly circumstances are not only heart-rending, but unacceptable.”

Babangida maintained that it is high time, therefore, “we seek to consolidate our gains and also, fortify our combat strength.

“Every year, our valiant Armed Forces majestically roll out their drums to honour our slain fallen heroes, with streams of organised fascinating events coming to a climax on January 15,” and added that “the 2019 edition is coming at a critical period when the teeming Nigerian electorate will go to the polls next month to elect their new leaders at various levels of government.

“In recent times, elections have tested our unity as a people, while also posing threats to our socicultural diversity and challenging our common destiny.

“I salute the uncommon bravery of our lion-hearted fallen heroes who paid the supreme price in their quest to defend our Fatherland. “Let me also commend our armed forces for their resilience over the years in maintaining peace in Nigeria, United Nations Missions, African Union and regional interventions.

“I urge all Nigerians to support our military at all times.

“While identifying with the officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces on the momentous occasion of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, I wish all Nigerians happy new year,” Babangida said.  (The Sun)

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Most Northern Youths Uneducated, School Dropouts, Says Buhari |RN

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian President Buhari addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York
                            President Muhammadu Buhari

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

President Muhamamdu Buhari has said that most youths from the Northern part of the country were either uneducated or school dropouts.

He said because Nigerian media only do what they like, they refused to highlight the explanations in his recent statement in which he was widely quoted as describing a lot of Nigerian youths as lazy.

The President said this in an interview he had with Voice of America, Hausa service, in Washington, the United States on Tuesday.

When asked about his reported comment on Nigerian youths while in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Buhari said the media only preferred to report what they like instead of concentrating on developmental journalism.

The President said, “You know they say we are over 180 to 200 million people in Nigeria and 60% are the youth below the age of 30.

“In the North, for instance, most have not attended school or they abandoned halfway.

“If not because we had favourable rainfall in the past two seasons; most of them have no jobs, just idling away.

“People like them, even if they go to the South for instance, what they will make will not be enough to even pay their rent not to talk of feeding, clothing, and transport back home.

“That has not been explained enough and you know the media, especially the print, are simply doing whatever they like.

“We had two successful farming seasons, people went to the farm and did very well, but no one is talking about that; only insults.

“That is why the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had to respond to the letter of insults released by Obasanjo. We spoke about it and I asked him not to respond but he refused and said he will just respond by stating the situation we met the country, where it is now and what was done in between and the monies we are getting.”

Buhari restated his position that the Peoples Democratic Party, in its 16 years in power, left debts for the country despite making huge income from oil.

He said there were no good roads or power supply to justify billions of dollars spent, adding that only God will judge.  (Punch)

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2019 Election: Decision On Buhari Not Yet Made, Says Arewa Consultative Forum |RN

By Baba Negedu

 

Buhari-new-pix1

President Muhammadu Buhari

The apex northern socio-cultural organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, (ACF) yesterday disclosed that as the umbrella body of all nongovernmental groups in the region, only it can decide the fate of President Mohammadu Buhari in next year’s presidential elections. The group also said all those speaking on the performance of the president and his chances were on their own.

The ACF National Chairman, Ibrahim Coomasie, a retired Inspector General of Police, told New Telegraph in an exclusive interview from his base in Katsina that Nigerians should wait for the voice of the ACF, insisting that all those speaking “are on their own.” According to him: “In 2015, I was the champion of the whole process.

We said that leadership must come back to the north and we said that any party that nominated a northerner, we would support the person and the party. Then APC nominated President Buhari and then I came out to say that we would support him and we did support him”. The former Inspector General of Police noted that they are waiting for the political parties to nominate their candidates before ACF will speak and give direction to the north on which way to go. “So, it is now left to him and his political party. So, let us wait and see. Because until his political party decides to give him the ticket or not, it is too early to say what will happen or not. If his party decides to renominate him, then we can talk”.

On the vote of no confidence passed on the President by some northern groups, the ACF chairman said: “Those groups are on their own, and that is why ACF issued a rejoinder to that effect. So, ACF is standing by that rejoinder.” He also questioned why they should rate the president low and question his chances, saying “for what are they, the Alpha and Omega? ACF is the Umbrella organisation for all northern groups and organisations. So, you have to wait until ACF talks”. Coomassie added: “Even though it is too early for me to comment on President Buhari’s re-election bid, let me say that it is his constitutional right to contest for the presidency of this country just like he did in 2015.

“He has the right to contest and nobody can stop him. If you remember, former President Olusegun Obasanjo tried to stop him and we said it was wrong for Obasanjo to stop him and he should not. Let us leave the man to decide for himself and he has now decided that he wants to contest. “In 2015, it was after the APC gave him the ticket that we came out to talk. And we decided to support him. But for now, the time is too early”. On the president’s performance, he said: “President Buhari has done very well in office. He has fulfilled the promises he made to the people.

On the insurgency front, he has controlled it. He talked about corruption and he is fighting it. Nobody else has fought corruption the way he has done. On the economy, his performance is not bad. So, I can say he is a good president, just that he inherited a bad situation.” “Those that are saying that the president has not performed are on their own”, he said.   (New Telegraph)

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This Is Why The North Will Still Vote For Buhari In 2019 – Matthew Kukah |RN

Bishop-Matthew-Hassan-Kukah

Bishop Matthew Kukah

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, speaks to TOBI AWORINDE on the socio-economic situation in the North, President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance and the forthcoming 2019 elections

You were one of those who vehemently opposed Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency from the outset. How would you describe the quality of leadership in Nigeria in the immediate past era?

Vehemently opposed to Buhari? Where did you get this from? I think you were sold this dummy in the heydays of ecstasy, frenzy and euphoria of the Buhariphilia, who jumped out of every corner of Nigeria believing that their redemption was at hand. Sadly, today, a good chunk has since apostacised. I never doubted the sincerity of the President’s intention to fight corruption. However, no matter how much you hate leprosy, you cannot cure leprosy by just giving Panadol to the victim.

My fears were threefold and based on experience. First, no matter the goodness, holiness or devotion of any human being, wait until he or she has power entrusted to them and see what they become. So, even in the most optimistic of situations, set goals and expectations and let the person prove himself or herself. Secondly, what Buhari kept saying about corruption did not seem to be the result of some deep reflections. His claims and strategies had never been interrogated. And finally, I insisted that national cohesion was far more urgent a task than just saying ‘we are here to fight corruption’. That informed what you may have referred to as vehement opposition. I was simply warning against too much blind trust and now we are where we are today.

What worries you most about this administration?

I am worried over the lack of fresh ideas, focus, vision and a seeming insensitivity to public feelings; a kind of contempt for how people feel and the impact of policy choices, on the part of this government. This is a season of anomie and alienation. The (Buhari) government seems closed to ideas that challenge their assumptions and apparently does not care what Nigerians think and what they feel. Else, there is no way that you can have a government make the mistakes that this government has made; refuse to engage citizens and simply refuse to give a damn. It is disturbing and, clearly, the government is listening to other drummers. Technically, no one suggests that their views should be taken, but this government has given Nigerians a feeling that they were sold a dummy. This is sad; very sad indeed.

Buhari and the military under his government have continuously claimed that Boko Haram has been defeated. Do you believe them?

Well, this is part of the problem and I think we should let the evidence — not the sloganeering and propaganda — do the talking. The government has refused to listen to the views of Nigerians about the rather incestuous and non-plural ways it has dealt with security and the appointments of their heads. Perhaps the government has a reason for allowing members of only one faith to monopolise the security apparatus, perhaps because it thinks Boko Haram is a problem within Islam and only Muslims can address the issues. Either way, our country is haemorrhaging in a way that ending the Boko Haram conflict will only open a new chapter in a country of people suffering the collective trauma, fear, self-doubt and a feeling of being totally disconnected from the state that has no empathy. With the government seeing this purely as a military operation, we can spend all the money in the world, but we will be nowhere near having a united nation or people. This battle has become a military operation with all its consequences on the economy and the dynamics of the engagement.

What was your reaction upon hearing the news of the Dapchi girls’ abduction?

My reaction was that of shock, sorrow; a tragic sense of déjà vu, and some level of near despair.

Do you agree with Buhari that his response time to the Dapchi girls’ abduction was better than that of the previous administration to the abduction of Chibok girls?

This comparison does not arise. One tragedy is bad enough; a repeat is a disaster. It is like asking whether dying by injection is better than drowning.

Do you think Buhari owes Nigerians an apology, considering his commitment to rescuing the Chibok girls and defeating Boko Haram within the first few months of his presidency?

Why should he apologise? I believe this government has done its best and this is about all it can offer. So, they should be judged not on speculation but on the reality. The issue of an apology does not arise because what we are seeing is the best that is on the table and this is the best team for the job in their view.

Buhari’s health was a major talking point last year with the President spending several weeks on two medical trips. Do you think Buhari owes Nigeria an explanation about what he was treated for?

You mean he should apologise that he was sick? I think we should respect everyone’s privacy. You don’t lose that by being a public servant. I was not happy the way we handled the issue of the President’s health. Others behave differently and I think we should learn not to play politics with everything in Nigeria.

Does his physical fitness worry you, given the possibility of his running for a second term?

There is a Hausa proverb which says, ‘You cannot borrow someone else’s mouth to eat onions’. No one has the right to decide on anyone’s health and as to whether they are capable of a particular function. It is left for the insiders of a party to decide whom they will field as a candidate even if the person is on a stretcher. Today’s weightlifter could fall sick tomorrow. Let the party decide who their best candidate is.

Three of the major promises of this administration is to fight corruption, boost the economy and conquer Boko Haram. Would you say the government has made any significant stride in these areas?

I have said repeatedly that personal opinion does not matter in the long run. Look at the reports from the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the United Nations Development Programme, Amnesty International or Transparency International. What does the evidence suggest? You cannot pick and choose what you want to believe. Or look at the entire Nigerian landscape littered with corpses, destroyed businesses and buildings, all the ravages of war. This is very painful.

What achievements do you think the Buhari government has made?

There is a Minister for Information; he has that duty, not me. They said they have technically defeated Boko Haram, reflated the economy, and brought back some Chibok girls and the Dapchi girls, bar Leah. We now have 7,000 megawatts of electricity and so on. They are also telling us about new multi-billion-naira projects which they are embarking on with no idea when they will be completed. The faces of Nigerians tell a different story and, sadly, we are not communicating with one another.

How do you feel about the recent revelation that senators receive N13.5 million monthly as running costs and that House of Representatives members receives N12m monthly?

Senator (Shehu) Sani has done his job. It is left for Nigerians to decide what to make of it. It is a pity that we are in such a state of stupor that nothing can rouse us from our apathy and this country will continue to sink. Will the President, Vice President, governors and ministers ever come clean or does it require reverting to the Freedom of Information Act? In the mafia, they call this destructive secrecy ‘omerta’, an oath of silence under pain of death. This is why Senator Sani deserves our respect for taking the decision he took. We hear that the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is claiming ignorance as to these sums. But, as I have always said, governance in Nigeria is a criminal enterprise which functions above the law.

What are your thoughts on governors’ transition to senators when their eight-year tenure is completed?

Well, what else is there for some of these people to do? Can they go anywhere to deliver a lecture or write books on their experiences? This country stands or falls depending on what the governors do.

What is your grouse with Governor Nasir el-Rufai?

What do you mean by grouse?

You recently criticised el-Rufai on his handling of the Southern Kaduna massacre. Do you think there is room for reparations?

Did you read my sermon in its entirety and why do you single out Governor el-Rufai? It was a funeral and there was the need to set the records straight. I simply articulated an evidence-based side of a story that I had played a role in. If that is what you mean by criticism, then fine. We are all entitled to our opinions but we are not entitled to our facts because facts are sacred. I presented my side of the story based on my personal experience with the claims he made.

What can the governor do to make amends?

Amends with, or to, whom? That is within the realm of governance which requires consultation and consensus building.

You have been vocal about the role of the northern elite in the poverty and underdevelopment plaguing the North. Can you elaborate on this?

My field of doctoral research was on Religion and Power Politics in Northern Nigeria and the result was my book, ‘Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria’. It opened up new frontiers and it was a pioneering research on how religion has been used to mobilise and retain power by the northern Muslim elite. I had over 100 recorded interviews with a cross-section of northern politicians across the divide.

This has given me an appreciation of the issues. It does not make me an expert. However, it is because of this that those who do not want to follow the arguments keep falling back and accusing me of being anti-northern or anti-Muslim. This is the easy line for those who benefit from this manipulation but do not want to face the consequences.

There is a noble obligation that all elite owe to those they represent; those on whose shoulders they may have stood; those who voted for them or those who helped them get an education. In the rest of Nigeria, these elites have met these obligations by building schools, hospitals, clinics, and so on for their people. They have bridged the gap between government’s absence and the welfare of their people. This is the story of almost all of southern Nigeria and parts of the Middle Belt.

In the North, the evidence of this dereliction of duty litters the entire landscape, millions of out-of-school children, federal and state government projects such as irrigation and power-generating dams that now lie abandoned in remote communities, structures, such as the Almajiri schools, all in decay in many communities, and so on.

Look at the World Bank, UNDP and other reports on development in Nigeria and look at northern Nigeria. The sad thing is that for the elite, these lives of destitution, illiteracy and squalor are reservoirs of investment from where they draw their oxygen of political relevance. The grinding poverty leaves the people permanently below zero and all they do is continue to look at the stupendous wealth of the elite with awe. In exchange, they (the elite) pretend to offer them (the poor) dubious religiosity through the manipulation of pilgrimages and construction of mosques.

Could that be the reason for the emergence of Boko Haram?

In my view, it is the long historical experience of this distortion of the religion of Islam with its exclusionist tendencies that Boko Haram has exploited. Boko Haram exploited the fact that this elite proclaimed Sharia in 1999 and 2000, while in reality, they did not believe in the religion itself. So, Boko Haram simply has asked them to step aside.

Indeed, the Buhari project presents us with an interesting view. The average northerner has become far more impoverished under Buhari than he was under (former President Goodluck) Jonathan. But they will still vote for Buhari because they see him as the only one who can help bring their derelict elite to order. It is a strange appeal but that is it. They believe their corrupt elite are above the law. They were seduced with Sharia because they believed it was going to help them punish their own elite, who they see as being above the law of Nigeria. These are the issues.

Did the northern elite act against the interest of their people intentionally?

If they were mistaken, 50 years would have been enough to correct the mistake, but as I said, this culture of ignorance, poverty and squalor is an investment. Aminu Kano spent his life trying to open the eyes of his people, the Talakawa. The late Bala Usman, a phenomenal intellectual, made massive contributions in this regard by subjecting this charade to critical social analysis. The result was a ‘saner’ environment for the generation of fresh ideas among Christian and Muslim scholars. Ideology replaced the divisive tendencies of religion among the elite. Fighting the Kaduna mafia and other mafias was an ideological project. Today, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and some of the remnants of NEPU (Northern Elements Progressive Union) politics remain the last of the best wine.

What are the interests of the northern elite?

They want to permanently hold on to power. Inherently (there is) nothing wrong with that if it can be used for the good of the people, but after all these years of the monopoly of power under the military and civilians, we northerners are still the weakest, the most sickly, the poorest, the most illiterate, and the most vulnerable. We have the highest number of childhood stunting, which is a danger to the future. The elite has brought shame on us and made us too weak to fight.

Do you believe in restructuring?

Does it matter what I or anyone believes? Even if it determines the outcome of the elections, did the All Progressives Congress not promise us restructuring? Promises have never been a problem. The saddest part of it all is that even the politicians do not expect to be believed, but somehow, we stupidly do. The Kenyan scholar, Patrick Lumumba, once said the tragedy with Africa is that those with ideas are not in power, while those in power have no ideas. The sad thing, he said, is that when the people have a chance, they still vote for those with no ideas.

What do you think the North has to gain or lose in restructuring?

They may perhaps gain the chains of poverty and the fear of those who hold the chains over the majority of our people.

What do you make of the APC committee on restructuring led by el-Rufai?

I have not seen it.

Many have described the APC panel on restructuring as an afterthought by Buhari to score political points. Do you agree?

No idea. Nothing is ever late. It is when honesty appears that matters.

What are your thoughts on the Catholic Church in Nigeria rejoining the Christian Association of Nigeria?

How can we rejoin what we started?

Do you still maintain a relationship with former President Goodluck Jonathan?

I don’t know what you mean by ‘a relationship’. The last time I saw him was when the Peace Committee had a consultative audience with him after the swearing-in of the new administration.

Do you have any expectations concerning the outcome of the 2019 elections?

Let us pray to be alive first. 2019 is a long way away. But I tell you that I have never felt this sense of foreboding. Things could change, but we have to plan how to cross this wide river that lies ahead of us.  (Punch)

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We’ve Nothing To Do With Buhari’s Rejection By Northern Groups, Says ACF |RN

buhari-new-pix
                                        President Muhammadu Buhari

Godwin Isenyo, Kaduna

Indications emerged on Thursday that members of the Arewa Consultative Forum were divided over the candidature of President Muhammadu Buhari for the 2019 presidential election.

A key member of the forum and leader of the Northern Elders’ Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, and 17 other northern groups at a summit on Saturday had passed a vote of no confidence in Buhari,  noting that the President and other politicians from the region had failed the North.

Abdullahi, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was the convener of the summit held at the Sir Ahmadu Bello, Arewa House, Kaduna.

Signatories to a communique at the meeting which lasted several hours included Abdullahi, who is the  Chairman, ACF Political Committee and Convener, Northern Elders Forum; Dr. Yima Sen, (Northern Elders Forum); Ambassador Ibrahim Mai Sule, ACF; Mr. Bello Suleiman, (CODE Group); Mataimaki Tom Maiyashi, (Arewa Research Development Project); Zannah Hassan Boguma, (Borno Elders Forum);  Nafiu Baba-Ahmed, (Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria); and Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame (Northern Union).

Others are Alhaji Yerima Shettima, (Arewa Youth Consultative Forum); Pastor Aminchi Habu,(United Christian Leaders Eagle Eye Forum); Balarabe Rufai, (Coalition of Northern Groups);  Isa Tijjani Labour, (Veterans Association); Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa, (CAN Northern chapter); Umar Ahmed (Zaria Jama’atu Nasiril Islam);  Alhaji Buba Adamah, (Arewa People Unity Association); Hassan El-Adamu,  (Arewa Initiative For Good Governance); Abdulazeez Suleiman, (Northern Emancipation Network); and Bilkisu Oniyangi, (Arewa Initiative for Good Governance).

Abdullahi, who is also the Chairman, Political Committee of the ACF, and another staunch member of the forum, Ambassador Ibrahim Mai-Sule, signed for the pan-northern socio-political group.

Also, the groups added that they were searching for a credible candidate to replace Buhari in 2019.

But on Thursday, the ACF distanced itself from the members who signed the communique passing a vote of no confidence in President Buhari and other politicians from the region.

“They were rattled by the development, the ACF not wanting its image to be dented, hurriedly met on Tuesday to disown the purported vote of no confidence passed in the President. Many members don’t actually like the President but would not want to stampede him out of office because he is a northerner,” a source told our correspondent.

The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammad Biu, in a statement on Thursday in Kaduna, said the northern body had yet to decide on its candidate for the presidential poll in 2019, noting that at the appropriate time, the North would tell Nigerians who the forum’s candidate would be.

Biu said, “The attention of the Arewa Consultative Forum has been drawn to the communique of the Northern Groups Summit held at the Arewa House, Kaduna, on Saturday, March 24, 2018, where the ACF was said to be a signatory to the communique.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the ACF would want to state clearly that it was never involved in the preparation nor participated in the said summit of that group and did not mandate any of its members to represent the forum.

“The ACF acknowledges the right of the individuals or groups to freedom of association as enshrined in our constitution. Any member who claimed to have represented the ACF or signed on behalf of the forum did so on his own.”  (Punch)

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2019 Election: The North Plots Against Buhari |The Republican News

Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

By KENNY ASHAKA

Athe debate on whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari should seek re-election in 2019 continues, indications have emerged that some northern political heavyweights are plotting to stop him by all legitimate means.  Although the All Progressives Congress, APC, led by Chief John Odigie Oyegun and the governors elected on the platform of the party appear disposed towards giving him the ticket of the party, feelers by Sunday Sun indicate that the president may not get it on a platter of gold as several groups and individuals from the North, easily the hot bed of the party are intensifying efforts to stop the bid.  Indeed, it was learnt that the move had taken concrete shape with several meetings held where allegations ranging from poor performance, betrayal and nepotism were levelled against him.  The twist in the saga is whether he should be given automatic ticket, the right of first refusal, or be dropped outright for another gladiator.  But the man at the centre of it all has kept silent over his ambition as he faces one of  the toughest moments of his almost 30-months presidency. Will Buhari be given the ticket on a platter of gold should he decide to contest? The months ahead will tell. What is sure, however, is that Buhari is sitting on thin ice. Nevertheless, the odds in the larger political setting appear to favour a second term for the president, but the enemies he has made in his northern base and what they see as his yet unimpressive performance may be his source of harm.

Two and a half years in the presidency is more than mid-term for President Buhari. In America, regarded as the liberal bastion of the presidential system, the various parties should by now be preparing to be hard hit against one another in a mid-term election. Even then, strong emotions are beginning to build up in the political landscape in Nigeria with plots and counter-plots. Within the APC, some top officials are angling for Buhari to be given the ticket in a way that will be done by prior arrangement. Indirectly and by implicit understanding, Odigie-Oyegun, the APC National Chairman, is saying there is no vacancy in Aso Rock. That disposition towards the election of the party’s applicants for the office of the president in the 2019 poll has left not a few APC faithful to believe that the party is not deserving of support.

The justification is simple. After about two and a half years in power, they say the Buhari administration has left the country prostrate. According to those who spoke with Sunday Sun, only two of the promises made have enjoyed a veneer implementation. Thus, many APC members are now saying that two and a half years in office, Buhari has not reached any milestone that would warrant his preparation to be the party’s candidate in 2019. The young elements are drawn against Buhari on account of age which has been made worse by his illness. To this class of young politicians, the North cannot afford a repeat of the Abacha and Yar’Adua experience.

But the plot against Buhari in the North cuts across party lines and is most characterized in a determined way among Northern elements in the APC who helped Buhari to come to power but who have been sidelined by the president.  “A lot of our leaders have deviated from the foundations and essence of the APC and we are not happy with that. They are running exclusive governments, non-inclusive administrations; they are running administrations that alienates rather than create greater popular participation. They have abandoned the key issues that were supposed to inform why APC was voted for, so overwhelmingly by Nigerians,” a prominent member of the Akida group, a platform that exists to keep alive the basic essence of the APC notes. Thus, they say Buhari has left northerners and indeed Nigerians worse than he met them.

Now, many northerners see Buhari as a president who is inclined to stick together with his friends and relations as a group and exclude those he considers outsiders. He is accused of stocking his kitchen cabinet with people from Katsina and the North East only and that at a time of grave economic crisis, the man they relied on to turn the tide in favour of the masses is not providing firm and decisive leadership. Corruption, they say, is bursting with impunity in a government that professes to be fighting corruption. “Simply put, this government is our party’s government, but it is one that is promoting dishonest exploitation of power, extreme immorality and depravity,” another APC chieftain in Kaduna who prefers to be anonymous “for now” says. They compared his tenure with that of his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan and say nothing has changed. In fact, they noted that Nigeria is heading for the descent into the kind of hardship Nigerians never witnessed before. “All we have heard from Buhari up till now are prevarications and sickening recurrence of policy somersaults.”

All said, the race for 2019 promises to be interesting as contending forces against Buhari prepare their strategies. For them, it is like the 2019 poll will take place tomorrow even though it is still about a year and a half away. The political space is already booming underground in some parts of the North with Kaduna being the hot bed. Hustles have started over who succeeds Buhari. In many ways, it is like a civilian equivalent of a military coup. For weeks now, endless nocturnal meetings are being held in obscure locations around the North where various arrangements are being put in place and plots hatched. “Those holding the meetings now to stop Buhari are championing the cause by trying to show that at the time the North stood up to be corrected they were the people who were the coordinators. That is what is happening. It is not the usual political meeting to chart the way forward. No. It is to close the door to Buhari,” a reliable source disclosed.

The source hinted that Dr. Junaidu Mohammed and some of those opposed to a Buhari presidency in 2019 have been holding meetings. “It is better for the North not to have Buhari there. We are wasting our time. For Buhari to continue as president, many of the people across the region will die of hunger. The cabal has hijacked him and it is blackmail; that is why they have a hold on him.

“All the Buhari qualities have fallen from 90 percent to 10 percent, let’s be fair, to 20 percent. How can a Buhari value now that has fallen to 20 percent get the presidency with these meetings going on? Junaidu Mohammed is a medical doctor and politician. They were the strong forces that floated CPC. Hameed Ali, the present Customs chief, Sule Yahaya Haman, a former Chief of Security in NIA, Sam Nda-Isaiah, those were the people that lifted Buhari up and stayed by him.  But when Buhari now saw the light of the day he surrounded himself with a cabal and left all the people who did the ground work for him. He dumped all of them completely.

“So now it has come to time for them to understand they have been dumped. So that is why Junaidu Mohammed Mahmoud does not want this issue to continue because for all he cares, he is a masquerade. The people operating him are different from him. And honest enough, Junaidu Mahmoud, Hameed Ibrahim Ali, Yahaya Sule Haman, Buba Galadinma they were the people who worked for Buhari. They fought for him, they brainstormed on issues of Nigeria and they gave the answers to him. They were his computer but now he has no computer, because Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari and Samaila Isa Funtua are not even calculators. They are all consumers. They cannot give added value to anything Buhari.

“That is why many northerners feel Buhari should not be president.  You remember Mohammed Nuru Abubakar, he is a journalist. He has been in the trenches promoting Buhari. Buhari has not said thank you to anybody who has helped him. All the people who have added grace to Buhari coming out as APC…because when he came into APC he needed a new infrastructure that will back APC because it was now an alliance which he was not ready to go with the ACN. He was ready to carry the icing with the cake and leave them with the crumbs, but he needed people to float his own leverage as a presidential candidate. They had to do the groundwork. All the people who helped him, two people complained to me that he never remunerated them.  He never said thank you to them,” the source explained

The plot is to neutralize the nest that some northerners want to create. “They are working to close the doors against Buhari. The meeting is to make all the poor people and the clerics who have been in the bandwagon of Buhari to realize the issue and back off Buhari. I am assuring you about that, because that is what the two people who told me about what is going on told me; that this is what is going to be achieved, and asked if I could give them my blessing.

“Some of the people involved are apolitical and you can never mention their names in politics, but they are the leaders of the North,” the source told Sunday Sun.

A long list of accusations are being drawn up and of course, several loyalists recruited in secrecy. Since late October, some influential members had been holding meetings. To many party stalwarts, especially those very selective in judgment, the timing of these meetings seems marked by good signs and therefore promises to be successful.

Although APC performed well in most states of the North, many party members are reluctant supporting the party if Buhari clinches the ticket of the party. They feel APC could have “captured” more states than it did in 2015 if not for what they see as the mis-application of power and authority by the president and his men.

The meeting of the aggrieved APC members apart, there is another meeting of select like minds, comprising northerners opposed to the Buhari agenda for a second term on account of the ACN/CPC alliance. This group is pushing for an Osinbajo presidency.  They are deeply aggrieved that Buhari has scuttled the smooth arrangement that brought him to power. The group believes that a second term for Buhari would not have been under attack if he had played according to the rules of governance which dictates that in a multi-ethnic and religious country like Nigeria, not only the people of Katsina State origin and the few members of the cabal are fit enough for appointments and attention. This meeting, attended by about 21 members of the group in the house of a chieftain of the APC in Ungwar Rimi last week, concluded that this is the appropriate time to stop Buhari from seeking re-election. The meeting passed a vote of no confidence on Buhari and a programme of action was drawn up.

Their concern was what they perceived as the marginalization of the people of the South-west, South-east and South-south in the affairs of governance. They noted that if Buhari was given a second chance, he would do worse things to southerners. “We are concerned because forget about the fact that some of us did not get anything working for Buhari’s emergence, but what he is doing to the South, especially the South-west that worked for his emergence can rub off on our party in the next election if he becomes our candidate,” Idrissa Makama, who said he is the Publicity Secretary of the group told Sunday Sun.

The group, according to Idrissa, has agreed to push for a “western” president since they believed it has become obvious that the Yoruba have lost out in the Buhari administration on account of “Buhari’s nepotistic stance in government.” Some northern presidential aspirants, sources said, also felt threatened. One of them met with his prime supporters in Kaduna last week to deliberate on “what to do with the Buhari issue who they regarded as a cog in the wheel of their aspirations. At the meeting, the decision to stop Buhari was unanimous. Reliable sources informed Sunday Sun that almost all the party members who attended the meeting wanted Buhari to be stopped as the APC presidential candidate but that they did not agree on the procedure to be applied.

While the young members of the party at the meeting supported an all-out war against the national chairman, which could turn out to be a bitter long drawn battle, the elders counseled against it on grounds that this may break up the party. They proposed that a “smoother style” of stopping Buhari which would have little adverse effects on the party be adopted.

Bolaji Abdullahi, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, said he is unaware of the plot by the North against Buhari and directed Sunday Sun to the president’s spokesperson or the president’s political adviser “who will be in a position to answer such queries.” However, Abdullahi said “as far as the party is concerned, we are not aware.” “We held a NEC meeting last week and at the meeting the members passed a vote of confidence on the president and of course you should know the caliber of people that attended the NEC meeting which includes the governors of the party. Of course, majority of them are from the North. So we are not aware of any meeting by anybody or groups. In any case, the president has not said that he is going to contest. So whoever is doing anything now is just embarking on a fruitless exercise.”

He reiterated the party’s stand on the presidential ticket of the party, saying “we have said it; there is no automatic ticket for Mr. President. Even if he is going to be unopposed, which is most likely, there will still have to be an affirmation. So there is no provision for automatic ticket in the party’s constitution.”     (The Sun)

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