Leadership (Abuja)

9 September 2012

Nigeria: No Way for Jonathan in 2015 - Na'abba

President Goodluck Jonathan may have an uphill task in winning the 2015 presidential election, if he decides to contest: there are indications that the north will not voted for him.

Former speaker of the House of Representatives and a staunch supporter of the president in the run-up to the 2011 general elections, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na'Abba, has declared that the north would not vote for President Jonathan in 2015 "because he did lots of things wrong to the North".

The former speaker, who spoke exclusively to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, declared thus: 'The way President Jonathan has been handling the party, there is a wide gap between him and northerners. And I am afraid that northerners will not return him to power again, because he did lots of things wrong to the north. The feeling is very strong against him."

Asked if he foresees the possibility of the north stopping Jonathan from clinching a second term in office, Na'Abba responded: 'It is very possible because, right now in the north, the feeling is that Jonathan is not worth voting for. People feel that most of the people who supported him didn't have the moral laxity to go and canvass for votes for Jonathan in the north. Those whose houses were burnt during the electoral violence have not been compensated. Lots of people do not have faith in him."

Asked if he had any regrets supporting the president in the 2011 general elections, Na'Abba said that he was concerned about unfulfilled promises especially to the north.

He said: 'When he was a candidate, what he often told us was that he would give attention to agriculture. And as a northerner, I am very passionate about agriculture. My regret is that I have not seen any northern farmer who is happy as a result of anything Jonathan's agriculture policy has brought to him. But I hope before the end of his tenure, he is going to fulfil his promises.

Otherwise, it will make it very difficult for some of us to support him again."

Na'Abba who was the speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 -2003 was a victim of the post- 2011 election violence: he lost his properties in Kano. Reflecting on the incident, he attributed it to his support for President Jonathan.

"It was because I supported Jonathan then. And it was because he was the candidate of my party and as a leader, it will not augur well for us to begin to cross from one political party to another. Another time a northerner will be the flag-bearer of the party; do we expect people from Bayelsa State to vote for us?"

On the most challenging period of his stewardship as the speaker of the House of Representatives, Na'Abba said that it was the period the House commenced impeachment proceedings against the then president Olusegun Obasanjo.

'The most challenging moment was the time the National Assembly was going to impeach President Obasanjo. For four months, between August and November 2002 when the matter was eventually dropped, it was not easy because I was seen to be the arrow-head. I was seen to be the mobiliser and orchestrator. My office and residence became a beehive of activities with different people coming to persuade me to tell the National Assembly to drop the matter.

"It was not easy because it was not really my plan. It was a National Assembly issue. Of course, I took an active part in whatever happened because I believed that Nigeria would have been much better without Obasanjo," Na'Abba remarked.

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