Gang-up against Jonathan: Northern Leaders' are seeking relevance, some can't win ward says Isyaku Ibrahim
Former member of the board of trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim, yesterday took a swipe at politicians from the North who are meeting to frustrate any attempt by President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2011 elections and said many of the people parading themselves as northern leaders were merely seeking relevance.
In an interview with THISDAY, he said they are merely worried over nothing as President Jonathan has not said he was running in 2011.
Ibrahim challenged the “Northern Leaders” to concentrate on building their campaigns rather than going around speaking for the North. According to him, those currently agitating that power must remain in the North “cannot even win elections in their respective wards, let alone win in a national poll.”
He said that many Northerners are "merely disturbing themselves over nothing. Let us be honest and fair to President Goodluck Jonathan. Has he ever said he is going to run for office? You said his body language suggests so, but that is not fair to him. Why not wait until he says he is running and then we confront him. As far as I'm concerned, all this running around and holding talks is all relevance – and attention – seeking. We are the ones in PDP who discussed zoning, so we know how to handle it. Zoning is important."
He said: "Many of the so-called leaders of the north do not have our mandate to speak on behalf of the region. It is wrong for PDP politicians to arrogate to themselves such a title. The North is beyond the PDP, because I don't understand how PDP politicians can claim they are speaking for the North. Many of those people can not deliver their wards in any election. I challenge them to show me their political credentials. These days you hear of curious groups like Arewa Youth Forum and others. Who are these people? I say they are all jostling for relevance."
Big names in the northern political circles have been commenting and holding meetings on the contentious zoning formula issue. Just last Thursday, one of such meetings held in Abuja with over one hundred politicians in attendance. The top names in attendance included former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Lt.-Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, who is national security adviser and Alhaji MD Yusufu, a former Inspector General of Police, among others.
They demanded that power must remain in the North till 2015, noting that they would reach out to other regions to achieve this goal.
However, other politicians from the North like former Head of State, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), former President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and others did not attend the meeting. The Abuja meeting was convened by the Babangida and Atiku camps. Similar meetings held in Kaduna and other cities across the North.
Ibrahim said that agitators in support of zoning should stop calling themselves "Northern Leaders". He said that they could call themselves PDP members "who are trying to resolve a logjam over the zoning issue in the party. The zoning was a PDP affair, so when people, who have nothing to do with the PDP attend meetings and try to impress the rest of us that they are doing it on behalf of the North, that is fraudulent."
He said such agitators have no mandate of the Northern people since such a mandate can only be conferred through a referendum in the region.
“There are other political parties in the North, not just the PDP. That is why it is wrong to keep making it sound as if it is the whole of the North that is speaking. We have other parties here and zoning is hardly an issue with them.
These people cannot claim to be the leaders of the North. For instance, which one of them is my leader or the leader of Bamanga Tukur and others? No one gave them that mandate. That is why I don't attend such meetings because my state has not asked me to go and speak for them. I go to the ACF because that is the body that we agreed will be a forum.
The ACF decisions are not always binding on the rest of the Ñorth. ACF does not force the region. So its leadership have never claimed they are the leaders of the North. We simply don't have such an individual, because it has to do with morality and the acceptance of the people."
Ibrahim, who was the main financier of the Shagari presidential campaign in 1979, added that: "Being a former police boss or former military head of state, for instance does not automatically make you the leader of the North. Like I said, only a handful of those people are politicians.
Adamu Ciroma was a civil servant who veered into politics. MD Yusufu has a movement granted, but what has he accomplished as a politician? And when a man becomes head of state through a coup, that does not mean he is automatically a leader of the North. Historically, the North does not have one big leader. There were many political parties in the North even in the early days. And they all have their own leaders. In the NPC, NEPU, Ilorin Talaka Parapo, UMBC and Borno Youth Movement under Ibrahim Imam, they all had their leaders."
He said further that Jonathan can not afford not to respect the zoning formula because he was a product of zoning. He said the emergence of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo as national chairman of the party has rubbished the alleged presidential ambition of Jonathan. He said, "I know Jonathan cannot come and say lets abandon zoning. I know because Nwodo is from the South East and he is from the South South. If you say there is no zoning, no problem, but don't forget that politics is still a game of number."