Prominent northern leaders have resolved to adopt the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), as its consensus candidate for 2015.
Both the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) Friday said before the presidential primaries that produced Jonathan and Buhari, the North had resolved to support a northern candidate, and since APC has fielded a northern candidate, they have no choice but to support him.
Indeed, they opined that President Jonathan ought not to be in the race if the principle of zoning created by his party and the constitution was respected.
Chairman of ACF, IGP Ibrahim Coommasie (rtd), said “First of all, the APC presidential primary and PDP convention have clearly shown those who are ready to practice democracy. APC’s primary was held smoothly without any rancour, and all of them have come out to accept the result.
“That is a good omen for our democracy, and I hope that INEC will emulate that. So, we are congratulating Gen. Muhammadu Buhari who has been winning primaries all through.
Only when it comes to the general elections is he rigged out. We have also seen what happened in the other party.
“I am the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and we have said it before, but we are still reiterating it, that we are going to support the Northern candidate. APC has voted a Northern candidate, so we are going to support him 100 per cent. So, Buhari is our candidate for the 2015 election.”
He was however quick to add that if Governor Rochas Okorocha had won the APC primary, they would still have supported him because he was born and bred in the North and has shown interest in the development of Nigeria and the region in particular.
“In 1998, the politicians decided that power should go to the South, and because of June 12, the South-West was favoured and it fell on (Chief Olusegun) Obasanjo. And they said that power should return to the North after eight years. Unfortunately, Obasanjo even wanted to do three terms but he couldn’t.
“Eventually, Obasanjo reluctantly brought Yar’adua who, unfortunately, did half of his first term and died. And by constitution, the number two man took over. So, many people argued that, since it was the tenure of a Northern candidate, after completing the first tenure, Jonathan should have stepped aside and allow another Northern candidate to take over and complete the tenure. But it wasn’t so,” Coomasie said.
In the same vein, the spokesman of Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi, told our correspondent that “the implications of the PDP and APC primaries have spoken for themselves.
“One, as it was said, was a coronation; not an internal democracy. The other one was true democracy on display, where aspirants refused to step down for each other and they decided to go and slug it out at the primaries. That was what happened in the case of APC.
“But in the case of the other party, there is no internal democracy. In fact, those who showed interest were intimidated and coerced to submission to withdraw their candidature.
“So, what the PDP did the day before yesterday was already described by some commentators as a coronation rather than a process where people are given their democratic right to choose their candidate.
“The implication is that, if the ruling party would insist on not respecting the democratic process within itself, the fear is that in an inter-party competition where they are in charge of affairs, the machinery of government, security forces and others, there is the risk that, they may go back to a situation whereby they will not like competition for their candidate.
“There is already a lot of warning from respected Nigerians that the best thing that must happen to this country is free and fair election in 2015, otherwise, the country will be at risk.
“Jonathan shouldn’t be in the contest in the first place if the principle of zoning that was created by his people and the constitution is respected. He shouldn’t be a candidate by now.
“Secondly, there is the problem of incompetence. Everybody from Wole Soyinka to Obasanjo has observed that this is the most incompetent administration the country has ever witnessed.
“Thirdly, there is the legal aspect of his eligibility. By my simple reading of the constitution of Nigeria, Jonathan cannot contest the election because he would be a president that would be in office in excess of eight years.”
Prof. Abdullahi however commended other aspirants who contested against Gen. Buhari in APC primaries for accepting the outcome of the primaries.
“Each one of them has spoken that they respected the outcome of the primaries and they will honour the pledge that they are going to work together to ensure that the party records victory in the forthcoming 2015 election,” he said.