(L –R) Minister of States for Interior Mr. Humphrey Abba with Prof. Jerry Gana and Minister of States for Information and Communication Mr. Labaran Maku at the Northern Political Summit at the International Trade Fair Complex, Kaduna on Thursday. Photo: Olu Ajayi

Abba Aji is working for the Presidency and N250 million has been budgeted for the project of Jonathan   for Presidency campaign.

It baffles me that Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, an elder statesman could make such a comment when he has no evidence to back it up

Stories by Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor

Elder statesman and Second Republic politician of the defunct
National Party of Nigerian (NPN) Alhaji Tanko Yakassai , who was also the former presidential liaison officer in charge of Kano, during the Shagari administration has been vocal on national issues especially during the saga of Yar’Adua illness.

He had to quit the Arewa Consultative Forum when he felt the group was not vocal against swearing in Jonathan as Acting President while Yar’Adua was still alive.

He had taken pages in the newspapers to speak against perceived injustice against the north.

In this interview , he accused the Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters, senator Abba Aji of receiving N250million from the presidency to campaign for president Jonathan in 2011, saying that Jonathan ought to call him to order.

Excerpts

The North seems divided on the issue of zoning and Shagari was quoted to have said that the North should concede to Jonathan because of  the past support the South-South gave the North. Is that okay with you?

It was Shagari, the deputy governor of Sokoto State and former President Shagari’s nephew  who said it. He was the former Minister of  Water Resources under Obasanjo’s regime.

There are two things that I want you to understand about zoning. One, it is wrong to say that the North is divided. There is no division in the North. I want also to tell you something, that  in Bayelsa today, where President Jonathan comes from, you are aware the deputy governor was impeached and there was a debate as to who becomes the deputy governor.

It was recently that the issue was resolved. So, political disagreements are  not new or peculiar to the north.

Before the first republic, we had NEPU, NPC and several others in the North. During the second republic, there were GNPP, PRP, apart from the NPN in the North. All these are political differences. It should not be regarded as something  new.

If you  remember, in the South-West in the former Western region, there were also political differences, and even crisis involving the Premier of Western Nigeria. Crisis like these are known to be part of politics.

Now, on the issue of zoning, anybody who mentioned Jonathan in  this debate on zoning  is getting it wrong. Zoning is not about Jonathan. We are talking about a decision by the PDP to run presidency on the basis of zoning. Obasanjo ran for two-terms of eight years and completed it.

Now, the argument  is that after Obasanjo’s eight years, the North will  have its eight years. Yar’Adua started but unfortunately, he died. It was okay  for the Vice President to complete the end of the first term of Yar’Adua and then handover to the North in the second term of YarÁdua’s regime. Zoning is not a do-or-die matter.

It is left for the PDP to continue its zoning formula or jettison  it. Obasanjo and Yar’Adua were elected on the programme of zoning. What we are saying is that since Obasanjo was president for eight years, the North will have its own eight years just like the South.

Now, people are bringing in the name of President Jonathan as Yar’Adua’s successor and I see it as a grand device to rig  the election in 2011. It is the rigging arrangement that has started. I’m not aware that PDP has decided to abandon the zoning formula.

The last I heard of zoning from any PDP official was from Vincent Ogbulafor who said that the zoning to the North for eight years would be completed. So, another Northerner should come and complete the eight years of Yar’Adua.

That was what Ogbulafor said but up till now, I have not heard of any meeting of the PDP,  either the NEC or the convention where it was decided that zoning has been jettisoned. Secondly, there is a provision, in Article 7, Section 2, subsection C in the Constitution of PDP where it said it would continue to abide by its zoning formula  until there is an amendment by a convention and no convention has been made to change that aspect about zoning.

That  was what PDP submitted to INEC. So, it is not about Jonathan. Bringing in Jonathan into the zoning debate is a plan to rig the election before the date of the election.

But Jonathan and Yar’Adua had a joint ticket…

No. There was no joint ticket. Nigerians are making a mistake by talking about a joint ticket. There is no joint ticket on this issue. Yar’Adua was to have a term of eight years but be died.

Don’t you think Jonathan should be the one to complete Yar’Adua’s next four years?

If you are talking about the completion of  his first term in office, that is okay, but that will only be till the end of his first term in office. The next term in office should be continueb  by the North. The tenure is for the North and not the South.

The argument being pursued in some quarters is that we don’t have the North and the South anymore. There are six  geo-political zones and we know the issues in the South-South currently.

Let me ask you madam, even if we go by your argument, has the South-South met and decided that Jonathan is their candidate? There were no such meetings.

I  would have expected that the Presidency should dish out warnings to people who say they are supporting Jonathan. He has not declared his interest in contesting election. Why should they take public money and dish out to some people to be holding meetings in support of  Jonathan.

So much public money is being spent for Jonathan’s campaign for presidency, yet, he has not been nominated as the candidate of the party. The Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Affairs Abba Aji is coordinating this.

If Jonathan is not in support of this, then, let Jonathan call Abba Aji to order
Other presidential aspirants also have people campaigning. They have been going from place to place soliciting support.

Abba Aji is working for the Presidency and N250 million has been budgeted for the project of Jonathan for Presidency campaign. Abba Aji, the Presidential Adviser is spear-heading it. Where will Abba Aji get N250 million. From his pocket? Why should Jonathan allow  him to continue to do that if he wasn’t the one funding the project?

If Abba Aji is campaigning for Jonathan, he could be doing that with friends and not with funds from the presidency.

Why should the office of  the Special Adviser to the President be doing that? He is occupying an official position and should be called to order. Which friends will be sponsoring a project with N250 million when the person being campaigned for has not been nominated. Let’s get serious and call a spade, a spade. It is public funds.
Well, the debate on zoning is getting to a dangerous crescendo and if not properly handled, it  could degenerate into something else. What should be done?

It’s true that the debate is getting dangerous but  we have a President. It’s up to him to do something about the argument because his silence is not healthy for the argument that is going on. He has to speak up. Those campaigning for him should  be stopped so as to douse the tension building up in the polity.

Others are being campaigned for. There is a campaign by friends of  IBB  going on despite the fact that he has been the President and should give way to others.
I don’t know  what you mean about IBB being there before. Yes, he has been there before and left a landmark.

You are from Anambra State and your  area is a  beneficiary of IBB’s former regime because he created Anambra State where you come from. Nobody can say he did not benefit from IBB’s regime of old, especially people from states like Anambra, Akwa Ibom and others which he created.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.