Former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), has warned that the conduct of the 2015 general elections will determine the unity of the country.
Abubakar said that the determination of the North to reclaim power in 2015 and the desire of President Goodluck Jonathan to seek for another term portend danger for the nation.
Abubakar, who spoke as the Chairman of a conference organised by the Peoples Daily in Abuja on Thursday, warned that the election must be well handled in order not to create friction.
“As political animals that we are, nothing seems to have gripped the imagination of Nigerians as the issue of the coming 2015 general elections which in my view is a watershed moment in the history of our dear country.
“The way we are able to handle this very important event will largely determine how successful we will be in our efforts at remaining a united, indivisible and stable country.
“Already, the fault lines are apparent and politicians are ready to exploit them to the fullest to achieve their sometimes not so noble objectives,” he said.
The former leader said that the north is determined to have it back and its leaders are pulling all the stops to see that that happens, adding that on the other hand, the body language of the incumbent president strongly suggests he wants another term in office.
Abubakar warned that “the unfolding scenario may portend danger to our nation if Nigerians from all parts of the country do not close ranks and put to interest of the nation first.”
The former head of state, who handed over power to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, explained that the sad and tragic experience of the 2011 post election violence was a reminder that election matters have become serious business that must be handled with the utmost seriousness and patriotism in order to avoid a repeat.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal described 2015 as being pregnant, adding that Nigerians would determine whether the year would deliver a bright future or a fetus of aborted hopes and dreams.
“The responsibility is of course first on those who hold power currently and the election umpire that we now have. If they decide to conduct fair and free elections, if the scales are not rigged, then the hope that 2015 will usher in a more peaceful and more progressive year is not in doubt.
“Part of the problem is that tribalism and nepotism have become such a critical part of our policy and politics that people often feel that they will not be reckoned with unless their candidate, their tribesman or woman, or their party win.
“Once we stop seeing power as an opportunity to enrich our friends and cronies but an opportunity to leave positive mark on governance, the extreme views that people hold over candidates for elections will be substantially moderate
“We hold it in our hands to make 2015 a turning point in our politics and our nation. But first the political parties must enthrone a democratic culture that should provide level playing ground over and above every other consideration.”
Tambuwal said that political parties must learn to conduct clean and crisis-free party primaries, adding that it was through this that people would have confidence in the political system.
He regretted that many people were being forced out of their political parties they founded by party officials who he said had proved themselves incapable of running such parties.
“More often than not, people are forced to abandon the political parties they have laboured for, not because they want to, but because party officials have proven themselves incapable of running a fair contest.”
Also speaking, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State accused the Federal Government of not fighting corruption, stressing that the gains made under the regime of the late President, Umaru Yar’Adua was being eroded under the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The governor, who was represented by his Commissioner for Information, Ibim Semenitari said, “Currently in the present regime of President Goodluck Jonathan corruption appears to have been institutionalized.
“A whopping sum of $20billion is alleged to have been missing. The stories of both fuel and kerosene subsidy are not anything to behold. It smears of corruption and rottenness.”