By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The mystery over President Goodluck Jonathan’s alleged agreement with northern governors of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2011 not to contest the 2015 presidential election deepened, yesterday.
Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, who blew the lid on the issue, it was learnt, had warned his close associates and top aides not to comment on the matter. It was also learnt yesterday, that the governor may have been mandated to make the revelation on behalf of northern governors. Governor Aliyu is chairman of Northern Governors Forum.
Alhaji Tanko Yakassi, one of the leading members of the Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF, told Vanguard, yesterday, that an attempt by the forum to get the president to concede the 2015 presidential ticket to the north failed after two meetings.
Yakassi’s assertion, nonetheless, other northern opinion leaders, yesterday, pointed to President Olusegun Obasanjo’s claim on the final day of PDP campaigns where he was quoted as saying that President Jonathan would serve one term.
President’s supporters disparage claims
Supporters of the president last night disparaged the claims. Mr. Joe Ambakaderemo, national coordinator of South-South Elements Progressive Union, SSEPU, described the existence of the agreement as inconceivable, outlandish and myopic, saying Aliyu should wait till 2019 to realise his ambition.
Governor Aliyu had, in a radio interview on Saturday, claimed that the president reached an agreement not to contest the 2015 presidential election.
He said: “I recall that at the time he was going to declare for the 2011 election, all PDP governors were brought together to ensure that we were all in the same frame of mind.
“And I recall that some of us said that, given the circumstances of the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua and given the PDP zoning arrangement, it was expected that the North was to produce the president for a given number of years.
“I recall that at that discussion, it was agreed that Jonathan would serve only one term of four years and we all signed the agreement. Even when Jonathan went to Kampala, in Uganda, he also said he was going to serve a single term.”
Yesterday, attempts to get Governor Aliyu to elaborate on the nature of the agreement were not successful as it emerged that the governor had decided to shut himself away from further comments on the issue. It was learnt that he had strictly instructed aides and associates not to further discuss the issue.
Matter of honour
Meanwhile, Alhaji Yakassi, who was Special Adviser to President Shehu Shagari on National Assembly matters and was also a leading member of the NPLF, the northern group that championed a northern presidential candidate told Vanguard yesterday that following the PDP primaries efforts to get the president to agree to serve a single term did not break through.
Claiming ignorance of the alleged agreement with northern governors, Yakassi said it would be a matter of honour for the president, if he ever entered into such an agreement, for him to honour it.