Why Northern elders oppose confab, by Ango Abdullahi
The Northern Elders' Forum (NEF) has condemned the process of selecting delegates to the proposed national conference, saying it has vindicated its earlier stand that the exercise is being orchestrated by President Goodluck Jonathan to perpetuate himself in power.
Spokesperson of NEF, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who stated this to journalists yesterday in Bauchi, vowed that the North will stop Jonathan from contesting in 2015.
Ango said that the Northern elders would boycott the conference and continue to enlighten people all over the country on the need for power rotation as it is the only thing that can stabilize the polity. He reiterated that the national conference was designed to protect Jonathan's personal interest rather than the nation's.
According to him, the several conferences held in the past have not made any positive impacts on Nigerians, asserting that the proposed one would not be different.
He said even if there must be national conference, it should be sovereign where the executive and legislative arms of government would be dissolved with the exception of the judiciary.
Ango said that the NEF believed that all burning issues including the desirability or otherwise of the nation to remain as one single entity should be decided upon by the delegates duly elected by their constituencies.
'The national conference proposed by Jonathan is a waste of public funds and is ill-timed because election is now approaching. Even the mode of operation and composition of the delegates of the conference are all wrong.
'We heard that when the delegates are nominated by their states, it is Jonathan who is going to approve. So, you can see that this is not a Nigerian conference but Jonathan's conference'', he said.
The NEF spokesman condemned the recent advent of another group of elders in the region, the Northern Elders' Council (NEC), formed by the likes of the former adviser to the president, Tanko Yakasai, and former minister of education, Dauda Birma. He alleged that NEC was sponsored by the Presidency to divide the northern community.
'While we, in the NEF are clamouring for a Nigerian president of northern extraction come 2015, the so-called Northern Elders' Council is against that agitation. So, northerners can judge between us that fight for their cause and those who are hungry for money'
He said that conducting all elections same day could help in avoiding riggings, malpractices and save cost.
He urged that elections into various political offices be conducted simultaneously same day across the country and should be free and fair. Just as the forum wants power to go to the North.
According to the elder statesman, the forthcoming polls must be free and fair to avert violence. He faulted the election time-table released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), alleging that it could give room for manipulation.