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Ango Abdullahi’s power-for-North outburst

July 25, 2013

The continuing insistence of the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi, that the North must produce the next president of the country in 2015, is inflammatory, divisive and utterly undemocratic.

Abdullahi, a former vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and a presidential aide on Food Security, at a recent meeting of six socio-political organisations in northern Nigeria, held in Kaduna, was quoted to have stated that the “North” is determined and insistent that the leadership of this country will rotate to it in 2015.”

He also reportedly claimed that the “North”, on the basis of one man, one vote, could keep power indefinitely in the present Nigerian state because it would always win election, as ‘all of us in the North have common agenda”.

This utterance is not only unguarded, it is dangerous for the unity of the nation. It is also clearly based on the wrong and delusional premise of a monolithic North that flies in the face of present realities in northern Nigeria.

It is troubling that at this time that well-meaning Nigerians all over the country are calling for unity of purpose in the quest for solutions to the many problems facing the country, an intellectual of Abdullahi’s pedigree is fanning the embers of disunity with this insistence that a factor, other than merit, is used in the determination of the person to be elected to the office of president in 2015.

His determination, alongside those of the organisations he claims to be speaking for, to have a president from the northern part of the country take over from President Goodluck Jonathan at the end of his first term in office in 2015, is unfortunate. Abdullahi, ordinarily, should be a national elder statesman on account of his age and standing in society.

It is saddening that he has elected to be a champion of regional politics. He has, once again, shown that he is not about to shift ground on his rabidly pro-North, anti-South stance on the issue of the nation’s presidency.

While Prof. Abdullahi may be speaking the minds of many Northerners who would want the next president in 2015 to come from their part of the country, the proper thing to do in such quest for political power is to follow due constitutional and democratic processes.

It should not be by threats or combustible statements capable of pitching a section of the country against the other. Besides, the claim by these groups that it is morally wrong for President Goodluck Jonathan to contest in 2015, based on an alleged, but disputed, agreement that the presidency would return to the North at that time, amounts to the drawing of a battle line and an attempt at the re-opening of old political cleavages and fault-lines that divide the country.

As someone who claims to be a democrat and has served this country in many capacities, Abdullahi ought to be a respecter of the rule of law and provisions of the constitution on the office of president. We, therefore, decry all incendiary comments capable of jeopardizing free and fair elections in the country.

Admittedly, the North has the right to put forward a candidate for the presidency in 2015, on whatever political platform it chooses, just the same way that Jonathan has the right, under the present constitution, to seek a second term in office, subject to the endorsement of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Section 133 of the constitution is explicit on the requirements for persons seeking the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Such conditions include having majority of the votes cast at the election, and having at least one-quarter of the total votes cast at the election, in at least two-thirds of all the states in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

With these clear provisions, it is very sad that some Nigerians still see the issue of election to the office of president from a jaundiced regional prism. This is also not the first time that the NEF spokesman has been credited with this parochial sentiment.

Few months ago, at a meeting with Borno State elders, he warned Northern Governors to cue behind the “power-for-North struggle, or see themselves as anti-North.” We decry the recourse to threats and drumbeats of war over the office of president in 2015.

Statements that strongly offend public sensibilities and those that have the potential to truncate the nation’s fragile unity must be avoided. Nigeria belongs to all its citizens and the presidency is not the preserve of any ethnic group in the country.

The office of the president should not be polarized along regional, religious, or other selfish lines. The effusions of Prof. Abduallahi and other similar sentiments from other political leaders in all parts of the country are reprehensible, and should be checked.

We urge all our politicians to behave and talk in a manner that will unite rather than divide the country. Political actors must be circumspect in all their utterances at this time to avoid inciting and dividing the polity.
SOURCE-THE SUNANGO

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