How we'll deliver N'East to Jonathan –Yuguda

By NBF News
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Jonathan & •Yuguda
Ever since he became Goodluck Jonathan's North-East campaign co-ordinator, Bauchi State governor, Isa Yuguda has left no one in doubt of his desire to deliver the zone to the president in the 2011 presidential election.

The visit of Jonathan and his team to Bauchi on Thursday December 23, 2010 to meet with delegates in the zone as part of campaign efforts ahead of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) primaries, presented an opportunity for Governor Yuguda to prove himself.

Prior to the president's visit, Yuguda had begun mobilising foot soldiers that would ensure that the Goodluck Jonathan/Sambo ticket becomes a reality by appointing state co-ordinators for each of the six states in the zone  as well as subcommittees to do the ground work.

The Bauchi State Environmental Protection Agency (BASEPA) office along Yandoka Street eventually gave way to the now imposing North- East zonal secretariat for the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation with state-of-the arts facilities, including internet.

Prior to the president's visit to the state, the Director-General of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, was immensely impressed during the commissioning of the north east zonal secretariat and he did not hide his feelings.

When former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was elected by the Adamu Ciroma led nine-man committee of the Northern Leaders Political Forum(NLPF), Yuguda  passionately appealed to the state co-ordinators and members of the subcommittees to work hard to ensure that the president wins the PDP primaries.

Yuguda who made history in 2007 by coming out from stiff opposition in the state chapter of the PDP to beat the then incumbent governor, Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu, believes that the North must support the South-South to rule the country because the latter had always been a great supporter of the North in the past.

When Jonathan visited Bauchi, he was warmly received by the people and in the peak of the activities, he paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu at his palace and stopped over at the tomb of the late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to pay respect to the foremost Nigerian leader and nationalist.

The expansive hall of the Multi-purpose Auditorium where Jonathan was billed to meet with the PDP delegates from Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe States was beautifully decorated as the delegates awaited the president's arrival.

He soon made his way into the hall accompanied by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, his Campaign DG, Tafida, the North East co-ordinator, Governor Yuguda among several top officials of his team. Few minutes as the national anthem was being recited, Governors Danjuma Goje of Gombe, Dan Baba Suntai of Taraba and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa states arrived.

The meeting  was also attended by the National Vice Chairman of the PDP in the North-East, Paul Wampana, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bayero Nafada, Senator Jibril Aminu, Jonathan Zwingina among several dignitaries.

Several governorship, senatorial and other aspirants of the party from the six states in the zone also graced the meeting with their supporters causing heavy traffic holdup outside the Multi-purpose hall venue of the meeting witnessed by heavy security presence.

Yuguda's speech
Governor Yuguda told the president that his team was working hard to ensure that he wins the party primaries and was elected in 2011.

Yuguda said: 'Mr President, you are not only getting the PDP ticket, we will work hard to ensure that you win the election. We are very committed to this project.

We have established a befitting zonal complex and we have resumedduties and we are doing the work diligently.

The zonal secretariat has state-of-the art facilities, fully operational with internet facilities. We have formed zonal campaign committees and they are functioning effectively. We will do a wonderful work.

We have brought together all states where there are cracks and we have sat down to discuss our focus and have set our goal. Our goal is to ensure that Jonathan becomes president in 2011.

We have therefore formed committees to reconcile aggrieved members of the PDP in the six states in the zone and we pray to God to intervene in the minds of those who seemed so aggrieved and heal their wounds forever.

Mr President, structures have been established up to the state level and not only have we established offices in Local Government headquarters, but we have offices at the wards.'

Yuguda used the opportunity to thank the president for the capital projects initiated in the North- East since his assumption of office.

He said: 'We commend the president for the Gombe-Yola road, re-awarded by Jonathan, and the Tafawa Balewa Dawaki road. We thank Mr President for the mobilisation and works are on-going on these project sites.

We are grateful to him because of his approval of the Kafin Zaki Dam and the committee set up to study the water system.'

The Bauchi State governor also used the occasion to appeal to the president to look at the Nguru watershed which has been overtaken by grasses. He said: 'Birds from all over the world land here.'

He lamented that Lake Chad was receding fast saying that the diversion of rivers in South Africa with cooperation of other countries to recharge the lake resume fishing and farming activities.

He also thanked Jonathan for establishing federal universities in Gombe and Taraba which will soon take off and for establishing a College of Medicine at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi disclosing that 25 students are currently undergoing study at the school.

'We also commend the president for the resumption of oil exploration at the Lake Chad Basin and the Benue trough. There is 30 cubic feet of gas untapped. We thank you for resuming the exploration because by the gesture, Nigeria's oil reserves will grow bigger.

We also thank you for the Mambilla Hydro power and other dams and rehabilitation of railways in the North-East.

Mr President, we thank you for initiating the almajiri project which is expected to rehabilitate street urchins in the North of which the North-East alone accounts for nine million.'

Lamentations from the North East
No sooner had the campaign Director of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida  and the PDP National Vice Chairman in the North-East, Senator Paul Wampana spoke than lamentations from the North-East delegates rented the air.

Tafida had maintained that Jonathan was determined to work as a president, describing him as a 'digital president who teaches older persons things they don't know. He will bring stability to Nigeria.'

Senator Grace Bent (Adamawa) decried the shortage of women delegates in the region, imploring the president to give more attention to the issue of women adding that, 'women in the North-East will give you victory, we will vote you to Aso Rock so if you work with us, you will see wonders.'

Speaking on behalf of delegates from the North East, Abdul Ningi, representing Ningi federal constituency lamented that the North-East zone has been marginalised since independence by successive governments.

He said: 'We at the bottom ladder in terms of facilities and human resources. The good news is that there had been attempts by the late Yar'Adua to  correct the imbalance  and we appreciate this. We thank President Jonathan because today we have the secretary to the Federal Governments, and the FCT minister, and the Minister of Police Affairs. We also thank you for appointing Governor Yuguda as your campaign coordinator in the northeast. We believe you have seen his honesty and strength.'

Former FCT minister who spoke on behalf of Borno delegates gave several reasons why the state will support Jonathan for the forthcoming presidential elections among which include his sense of justice, ability to manage controversies, prospecting of oil at Lake Chad Basin.

Gana added : 'We are also supporting the Goodluck Jonathan/Sambo ticket for the sake of peace, unity band progress and political stability. Fort justice to the South-South zone which has never produced a military or civilian head of state.

The president and his vice have good character, good education and unblemished record.

Lawal Girigiri who spoke on behalf of Yobe delegates disclosed that the state has given Jonathan 100 per cent support in 2011 with the hope that he will turn around the fortunes of the state.

He lamented; 'Yobe is the least in terms of resources since its creation in 1999. We have been unlucky to be ruled by ANPP and nothing to show for it.'

Ambassador Yarima Abdullahi who spoke on behalf of delegates from Gombe State said the north east is bedevilled by myriads of social and economic problems and the region desires a president who will address the problems and address agriculture.

The Chairman opf the Conferecne of Speakers and Speaker of Taraba House of Assembly, Istifanus Bana said the state has given total support to the Jonathan Sambo ticket and there was no going back.

'He said: 'We have resolved to give them support and vote for them because we believe Jonathan can deliver above other aspirants. The mandate will not be sold to any other aspirants by the people of Taraba'

After the lamentations and before the president came out to speak, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bayero Nafada supervised a motion moved by Senator Jibril Aminu and seconded by Alhaji Asher Jarma supporting the aspiration of the Jonathan by the delegates from the North-East.

The vice president, Sambo then spoke briefly about his growing up, education and working career in the north east, urging the people to support their ticket. In his response, President Goodluck Jonathan said that apart from ecological funds, his administration had directed the Ministry of Environment to handle budget on environmental challenges in the North-East, particularly desert encroachment and protection of farmlands.

He assured that he would not disappoint the people of the North East when he becomes president adding that besides the massive roads projects his administration had initiated since coming to office in the region.

Saying that without a sound education base, particularly technology oriented education, the country would not progress, he promised to establish a federal university in Yobe State in the next two years if he becomes the president.

He promised not to disappoint the people of the region of the delegates gave him the made and he eventually becomes the president. Jonathan said: 'I am not one to play politics of deceit, anything I say I will do, I will do it except it becomes inexplicable,' reiterating that by the first quarter of next year power would be stable in the country.

'We have the potentials to develop and become a great nation what we need is a committed leadership. That is why we take education seriously. That's why I held a stakeholders meeting on education . We wanted to start with six universities in each geopolitical zones, but we had to establish tow in the north east-in Taraba and Gombe States because there is only one conventional university in the entire North East. In two years time, we will establish a federal university in Yobe State, a model university because we believe that the North-East is being marginalised educationally.'

When  it was the turn of Danjuma Goje  of Gombe to give the vote of thanks, he reiterated the marginalisation of the region in distribution of federal resources by successive government. He particularly noted that it was a disappointing that his state had not received a fare deal from the federal government to reciprocate massive support given to the party by the Gombe people in the 2003 and 2007 elections.

Goje, however commended the Jonathan administration for taking steps to address the problems in the north east region speculation about the future of the state governor, Raji Babatunde Fashola, as he endorsed him for a second term in office before all stakeholders and leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) at the party secretariat.

How it started
When there was need to search for a successor for former governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu mid way into his second term, the name of the current governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), was not on the list of the short listed names of would be successors. He was just within the corridor of power as a dedicated, loyal, efficient and committed Chief of Staff.

Some names on the list included some commissioners like Dr. Tola Kasali, Hakeem Gbajabiamila and Dr. Leke Pitan among other names. And before anybody could say 'Tinubu,' the supposedly anointed aspirants had started representing their boss in various event, organising press conferences and campaign rallies and also parading themselves as the next governor of the Centre of Excellence.

Interestingly, however, the name Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF) came up and this jolted those already on the campaign field. Instantly, they paradoxically became the proverbial masquerades that danced first at the market square and later became part of the spectators at the end of the day.

However, the uproar the twist in the event generated pushed Tinubu to the public 'duck' to explain. Addressing media executives on the issue at the Marina State House, the embattled former governor had hectic time convincing the media gurus that 'what I see in all these aspirants, you may not see it.'

According to him, all the aspirants, Fashola inclusive were working with him and that he knew the stuff all of them were made of assuring that 'with Fashola as my successor, you would not be disappointed.'

Daily Sun now sought out the young man in question, Fashola to tell his own story. He just stated as a matter of fact that 'Nigerian youth are very vibrant and knowledgeable enough to take this country to a promised land.'

The youthful Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Babatunde Raji Fashola then assured that 'you would not be disappointed in me,' pointing out that 'as one of your generation, I am in position to know what is good for our generation.'

So, on April 14, 2007, the 43 years old Fashola (then) was elected to be Lagos State Governor on the ticket of the then Action Congress (AC) now Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

And true to his promise, Fashola did not leave anybody in doubt that he meant business by executing projects stipulated in his party's 10-point agenda to the admiration of the masses and his elated predecessor in office, Tinubu.

And at several fora, Tinubu has not been mincing words to describe Fashola as 'The Actualizer.' Even on several occasions, Tinubu has described his successor as 'my success story.' So far, Fashola has been vindicated in his assertion that 'only today's generation can understand the problems of its generation and be in good stead to solve them.'

And expectedly, barely two years in office, newsmen have started asking the governor about his second term ambition which they thought was sacrosanct and a foregone conclusion. But the governor has kept on telling whoever cared to listen that 'it is my party and the good people of Lagos state that can look at what I am doing decide what next for me.'

Fashola's achievement has, undoubtedly and unarguably become a reference point in Nigeria as even members of the opposition parties agreed that he is giving the people of Lagos good run for their votes.

Former Minister, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai took a critical look at what the political dynamite of Lagos state was doing and declared that 'Fashola has shown us that good governance is possible in Nigeria.'

And at several political fora, discussants would hardly conclude their speeches without referring to what is happening in Lagos state as 'heart warming.'

Cookies then started to crumble
And at several political fora, discussants would hardly conclude their speeches without referring to what is happening in Lagos state as 'heart warming.'

However, as the accolade for the unassuming governor continued, the political atmosphere was polluted as rumour mill had it that things were falling apart between the master strategist, Tinubu, and his actualizer political son, Fashola. The rumour further had it that the faceoff might likely cause the latter a second term in office.

As the rumour was being examined by political watchers with a view to ascertaining its authenticity, a group that goes by the name 'True Face of Lagos' jostled everybody with allegation of financial impropriety against the governor.

The group even went a step further to take the allegation to the state House of Assembly for probe. It was when the House, under the leadership of the Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji constituted a probe panel to look into the allegation against Fashola that people started to insinuate that something serious might be amiss between the governor and his predecessor in office.

But the Speaker has also stated on several occasions that 'there has never been a plan by the House to remove the governor,' saying 'he is one of our own, we elected him and we owe the party the duty to protect him.'

The political atmosphere now became charged even with denial here and there, as individuals, independent analysts and groups started taking sides on the issue. It came to a point when nobody was sure of Fashola's fate vis-à-vis his second term in office.

While confirming speculations that there was indeed some misunderstanding between him and his political godson, he said however that though such misunderstanding was natural in politics, but that such issues were taken out of proportion by enemies of the party.

According to him, 'in the last two years, many people have carried so much rumour between the governor and myself, those who didn't know how I know him, where I know him carried their own theory. They postulated so many stories to the extent that it is the success that I, Bola Tinubu was envious about.'

'But, you if have a child that you have put through school, that you have taught and among 36 if he ranks between one and third you must celebrate, but there is no politics without conflicts, without twist and turn, that is the truth, it may be conflict of idea, conflict of programme, conflict of priority, it must be debated, argued and planned upon, that is the foundation I left behind, that is the structure I built, that is the standard I created, that is the success path I charted and that is the principle that I embarked upon.

The Ikorodu connection
As the hide and seek game went on, a lot of concerned citizens started to warn the leadership of the party to be wary of 'Otedola episode' of the botched third republic when protest votes gave an opposition party the gubernatorial seat in Lagos against the run of play.

And before anybody could say 'Eko o ni baje,' a re-run election in Ikorodu was conducted and the opposition Peoples Democratic part (PDP) won to the consternation of AC N leadership. Not a few party faithful was jolted. And that scenario gave the state chapter of the PDP more courage and confidence that with wrong calculation from the side of the over confident AC N, winning the state would be a foregone conclusion.

Chief Lanre Razak, a chieftain and senatorial aspirant of the PDP, told Daily Sun that 'the Ikorodu victory is not a fluke,' boasting that 'that is the pointer to what awaits the ACN in April, 2011 election.

The bitter defeat must have served as a tonic and wake-up call for the leadership of the AC N who must have realised that substituting Fashola might be the beginning of the end for the party that has been waxing stronger lately. The fear was compounded by the order given to the Lagos PDP by President Goodluck Jonathan to go for Lagos state.

All forgoing must have informed the wide jubilation that greeted Tinubu's declaration of Fashola's second term endorsement at the stakes holders meeting recently. A House of Representatives aspirant, Niyi Raheem, described the endorsement as the victory of the AC N in the coming election. According to him, even the PDP candidate that was declared winner in the Ikorodu re-run would be a four month lawmaker, saying 'ACN will win all the seats available in the state in April.'

Confirming that while handing Fashola the party flag, the state Chairman Otunba Henry Ajomale dismissed the recent victory of the PDP in the House of Assembly rerun election in Ikorodu assuring members that the party will reclaim the constituency at the April election.

Feeling vindicated, an activist and General Secretary of the Oodua Self Determination Group (COSEG), Razaq Oloko-Oba reminded that 'I have said it severally that Lagos people and Nigerians in general can not imagine Fashola not getting a second term ticket because of his achievement.'

Responding, the elated Fashola thanked his predecessor, Tinubu, party's leadership as well as the mammoth crowd that attended the meeting for the opportunity given him to serve a second time promising that he would not let them down.

According to him, the second term endorsement was a challenge to do more and he therefore solicited for more support from all and sundry to cooperate and assist him to succeed insinuating that governance is a collective responsibility and not a one man show.