Abba Aji gotÂ N250m to campaign forÂ Jonathan
The Special Adviser to the President on national assemblyÂ matters, Senator Abba Aji made headlinesÂ during the era of late President Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s illness when itÂ was alleged that he received the letter of vacation from the then President Yarâ€™ AduaÂ for onward transmission to the national assembly.
Abba Aji then denied claims as made by the thenÂ Chief Justice of the Federation, that President Yarâ€™AduaÂ wrote a vacation letter to the National Assembly and handed it to him to despatch.
Currently, Senator Abba Aji is enmeshed in another controversy. He is allegedÂ to have received N250million from the Presidency for President Jonathanâ€™s campaign. But in this interview, he denied this allegation by the elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai saying that it a blatant lie that does not hold water.
There is an allegation by Alhaji Tanko Yakassai that you are spearheading Jonathanâ€™s campaign with N250m receivedÂ from the Presidency. How true is this allegation?
It baffles me that Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, an elder statesman could make such a comment when he has no evidence to back it up. But let me say categorically that not a single penny has come into the Jonathan For President Campaign project.
The campaign project for Jonathan is being spearheaded by like minds and these people have been donating materials to the campaign. Some donate T-shirts and/or other materials. Nobody has donated money to the project.
All we have been having are T-shirts, caps, posters and other materials. And if you say that because I am a Special Adviser to the President and shouldnâ€™t be doing that, you are wrong.
I am a politician, Iâ€™m Adviser to the President on National Assembly mattersÂ and by virtue of that also, Iâ€™m a member of the National caucus ofÂ PDP. I am a politician, I am not an employee of the National Assembly and therefore, I am doing the right thing.
And the National Assembly is made up of people representing the entire country and all of them are politicians and thisÂ isÂ where we have a large support for Goodluck Jonathan and these are people who represent constituencies and theseÂ peopleÂ are committed.
Membership of Jonathan For President Project constitute former members of the National Assembly, former Ministers and former party executives. These people form the bulk of our membership and other people from all walks of life. These are people of like minds who came to us on their own.
So, you are saying thereÂ is no support from the presidency?
There is no penny from the presidency, not even a penny. Why would a man ofÂ Tank Yakassai â€˜s calibre make such a claim that he cannot substantiate. Why would he want to overheat our polity? I have a lot of respect for Tanko Yakassai and donâ€™t expect him to make an allegation that he cannot substantiate.
The current debate on zoning is already heating up the polity and the alleged interest of President Jonathan in the presidential race is dividing the North.
Remember I told you that Iâ€™m a member of the National Caucus of the PDP. If your party has a zoning policy, that has to come from an advisory body which is the Board of Trustees or the National Caucus.
Then it goes to theÂ NEC and then the national conventionÂ before it becomes a policy ofÂ the party. This zoning thing did not undergo this process. Nobody can say that PDP has a zoning policy. This zoning might have been discussed by a few people whileÂ drinking tea and coffee but there is no agreement.
A party is governed by a constitution and not by any other thing. And in any case, let me add, that if President Yarâ€™Adua was alive, he would have run for a second term in office and he would have been supported by the party.
Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s presidency is two sides of a coin. One side was President Yarâ€™Adua and the other side is Jonathan. You cannot support Yarâ€™Adua without supporting Jonathan. So, we are very surprised.
If those supporting Yarâ€™Adua when he was alive cannot support Jonathan now, I will be surprised. They had a joint ticket. It was one ticket for them. So, this is our position. AndÂ we are not shying away from anybody. Jonathan has to conclude Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s second term in office. Even if you go by zoning, there is no difference between Jonathanâ€™s ticket and Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s ticket.
But the North has been meeting with a bid to stop Jonathan in 2011.
There is nothing like stopping Jonathan or the North uniting against Jonathan. Look at Barrack Obama, he hasÂ more relations in Kenya than in the United States but he is Americaâ€™s President.
The moment you choose somebody as your Vice President, what you are saying is that he is good enough to become your President. You knowÂ why you are taking him and that is why it is expected that the Vice President should step into the shoes of the President in times of emergency.
Circumstances has made Jonathan the President of Nigeria and he should be given a chance to continue.
Iâ€™m very surprised that anybody will want to stop him from vying for Presidency in 2011. I am from the North. I would have supported Yarâ€™Adua for second term in office but if he is not there anymore and fate bestows on Jonathan the power of the presidency , I will support Jonathan and that is exactly what I am doing.
I donâ€™t understand the argument that he should not contest for 2011 presidency. Why wonâ€™t he contest?
There is a new argument that zoning is in Nigeriaâ€™s Constitution as Federal Character and quota system are the same as zoning. Do you buy that argument?
Yes, there is federal character and quota system which is applicable in our national life and appointments. That was why Jonathan from the South-South was Vice PresidentÂ when Yarâ€™Adua from the North West was president. And now that Jonathan is the President, Sambo from the North is the Vice President. That is federal character, that is zoning too. Nothing has been contravened.
But as it is, the North is drumming up support for IBB, the former military President as a formidable force to stop Jonathan.
Let me tell you about IBB. He has made sacrifices for this country in the past and I respect him a lot for that. He stepped aside in 1993 during the heat of the cancellation of June 12 presidential election protests.
IBB has a large heart and many people know him for that. I have no doubt in my mind that a time will come when this same IBB will join the train to support Jonathan.
He is a member of our party and an elder statesman and Iâ€™m sure he will understand this cause we are pursuing. We will go to him and like I said,Â he would understand and give Jonathan a chance. He has made sacrifices in the past for the peace and unity of this country and he will make it again.
So, we will go to solicit his support for Jonathan and we know he will understand and give it.
And back to the allegation of N250million, let meÂ make it clear to all Nigerians that there is no N250 million from the Presidency or anybody for this campaign for Jonathan. We are individuals made up of former national assembly members, former ministers and former party executives contributing to make this campaign a reality.
We have no monetary support from the presidency or anybody. Tanko Yakassai is an elder statesman and should stop making allegations he cannot substantiate or attempt toÂ heat up the polity.