Vanguard (Lagos)

23 February 2013

Nigeria: 2015 - Jonathan Is Interested - Senator Kanti Bello

There is suspicion between the two religions and it is also arousing ethnic sentiments. Recent happenings have clearly demostrated that we are not united. These are what we are looking at right now and that is our priority, not power.

Recently, when the posters of President Jonathan took over the streets of Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), many people began to draw conclusions on the impending interest of the President to run in 2015. Although the President distanced himself from the posters, but said those pasting them are only exercising their rights.

Kanti Bello

With other permutations going on, the opposition parties have also stepped up activities with the on-going moves to actualise a merger which pundits believe is only a figment of the conveners' imagination.

Whether real or imagined, the rhythmic dance of the President even before the 2011 election may have been giving the opposition a nightmare and so, decided to smoothen the edges of their political weapons to challenge the President in case he declares his interest to run.

Some of the party-men from northern extraction believe the President will stand in the 2015 election hinging their claims on what transpired at a caucus meeting sometimes in 2010.

"I asked the President myself point blank that "can we have his words that by 2015, he should not run?" He did not answer the question. But I can remember people like the governor of Katsina State went ahead and issued a communique that President Jonathan is going to do only one term. But the President did not say so."

These were the words of Senator Mahmud Kanti Bello, who represented Katsina North at the upper chambers in 2003 to 2011. Giving credence to his claim that Jonathan will run in 2015, Bello said: "I can recall when we were doing the last caucus meeting before the primary elections.

The order of primaries and general election were put into the Electoral Act. We had the meeting at the PDP headquarters. There and then President Jonathan was trying to garner support. The President, governors, some lawmakers, party chieftains and I were there.

Then, I supported IBB because I felt he was a better candidate but when he lost, I was duty bound as a party-man to support Jonathan. But then, before supporting him, I wanted to take his words home to my people who were agitating for a northern president, he has never said he is not interested."

"But that is not the issue now. The issue is that Nigerians want to change the PDP government. The government is not capble. There is no power, no healthcare system, our industries are completely gone, our textiles are not working, we cannot even clothe our people," Bello stressed.

He noted that any right thinking person would know that the country is sinking, adding: "for Nigeria to move forward, the government has to change. It is not also about how the north is preparing or scheming for power but how Nigerians will change their destinies."

The President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shettima Yerima said President Jonathan cannot take oath of office three times. "After succeeding Umaru Yar'Adua and again took aoth of office in 2011, it is not right for him to stand election in 2015," he said.

In view of this, Bello was very optimistic that the merger talks between some opposition parties will see the light of the day. He stated that since they all have a common goal to get Jonathan and PDP out of government, it will work out.

"Our manifesto is to get Jonathan and PDP out of government and restore security to the country."

But Alhaji Shettima Yerima, an activist and President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum has a different view. Yerima while speaking with Saturday Vanguard on the issue bluntly said: "The merger will not work. It didn't work in the past and it will not work now.

Alhaji Shettima Yerima

His reasons among others were that the personalities involved are interested in power and would go their separate ways when it comes to the issue of who becomes the flag-bearer of the mega-party.

"I see two different ideologies coming together to form a common front. I can predict without any doubt that the merger will not work. If you look at Buhari as a person and Tinubu as a person, you will see that they are two different people with different ideas. Even if you look at Shekarau of Kano and Buhari on the other hand, you will see that they cant work together. Every one of them is looking for power and at the end of the day, when who emerges the flag-bearer of the merger becomes the issue, you will see their true colours.

Yerima said rather than learn from the past experience people still tried to live in the figment of their imgination believing any good thing will come out from the arrangement.

Contrary to the views of Senator Kanti Bello, Alhaji Yerima said removing Jonathan in 2015 would not end the bad leadership in the country. "Even if you remove Jonathan, it will not end Nigeria's problem. Which of the players is better? We know all of them. So, for me, Jonathan has not been a problem and he will not be if we have proper structure on ground. What tells you the next man coming in will not be worse, The problem of Nigeria is symptomatic," he said.

Yerima noted that the north unlike what most people think is not preparing for 2015 now. He added that the region is only concerned about how to mend fences with other groups especially their Christian brothers and the Southerners who share religious and ethnic sentiments.

According to him, "the north is not prepared because we have a lot of issues to contend with especially the issue of insecurity which has affected other parts of the country. Already, there is misgiving about religion in the country. There is suspicion between the two religions and it is also arousing ethnic sentiments. Recent happenings have clearly demonstrated that we are not united. These are what we are looking at right now and that is our priority. We have to unite our Christian brothers from all other parts of the country as well as the Hausa/Fulani and not about power. This is a task that must be done. We know that the moment there is dichotomy between us, we will begin to have problem," he stated.

Another view that cannot be withered is that of Senator Isa Kachako.

Isa Kachako, a former Military Governor of Kastina State who later became a Senator agreed with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the debate on Jonathan runs in 2015 is diversionary. Frankly, the Senator opined that Nigerians need more service delivery than the issue of Jonathan running in 2015.

He advised: "You can only talk about campaigning when it is about nine months to 2015 and when it is four months to the election, you can tender your resignation. But talking about all these now amounts to betrayal of trust to the people. They should serve the people first. He lamented that instead of service delivery, politicians are concerned about power in an election coming up in another two years time. "It is unfortunate that some of these politicians knew how they got to power but they seem to have forgotten God and instead of providing the needs of the people, they are talking about 2015."

"We have very few politicians of integrity. How can people start talking about 2015 at this stage of this administration.

The security is still posing a serious challenge, and how can you do anything when the security of life and property is not guaranteed? There is palpable fear and despair in the country."

On the opposition coming together to join forces together against the ruling party in 2015, he stated that there is nothing wrong with the move. "they can come together first because they have a lot to do if they want to achieve anything meaningful. Fashioning out a constitution for themselves and other modalities for achieving their goals are some of the issues they need to talk about."

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