By Luka Binniyat
Contrary to the notion by many people that the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) headed by Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd) has been sidelined by some power blocs, Saturday Vanguard finding shows that PAC is alive and kicking.
It could be recalled that March this year, President Jonathan Goodluck, who was then the Acting President (while the then President Umaru Yar’Adua was too ill to rule), formed PAC, headed by Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), a former Minister of Defence and deep pocket business man.
PAC is made up very respectable and prominent Nigerians. Among them are Prof. Ben Nwabueze, who serves as Deputy Chairman of the Council, other members banker Fola Adeola, author Malam Abubakar Gimba, Mr. Basil Omiyi, former MD of Shell, Alhaji M. D. Yusuf, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Amb. G. B. Preware, Bartholomew Nnaji, professor of robotics and former Minister of Science and Tech, among others.
But shortly after Jonathan Goodluck became substantive President and later appointed a new cabinet complete with advisers and other aides, the PAC became less visible invoking speculation that Danjuma and some key figures of PAC might had packed out of the PAC because the President wasn’t taking any advice from them.
But according to Saturday Vanguard source, all members of PAC are working from behind the scene, trying to forge an understanding between all the contending political blocs for a smooth, fair and free election, and also making sure that the President does not get distracted from his basic day-to-day responsibility to the Nigerian People.
The source posited that Danjuma is particularly worried about the seeming confusion in the politics of Northern Nigeria, where he earns respect as a fair minded, unbiased elder that had done much in the past to cement the entire region with the rest of the country.
“He is disturbed that the North is now lost in a Babel of voices with the 2011 general elections approaching, and that there seems to be no credible body to call anyone to order”, he said.
“The General is worried that the so-called leaders of North and the Middle Belt have not been able to rein in on their politicians and youths to thread with caution the way they are gunning for power”, he said.
Asked if he was working for President Jonathan Goodluck to return in 2011, the source said that given the kind of characters that are contesting for the number one job, it is likely that the retired General from Taraba would prefer Jonathan Goodluck to continue.
“You know he is not given to open politicking”, he said. “But I know that he is for Goodluck”, he said.
“But the primary worry of the general is to see that there is stability in the politics of the North and the Middle Belt”, he said.
The source said that the General had observed that most of the political leaders of the two regions have aged and lost control of the young emerging politicians who seemed to have untamed ambition.
“Gen Danjuma is concerned about the political situation in Kaduna, Plateau States and is working round the clock to ensure that forthcoming elections in these two states are problem free”, he said.
“TY believes that a stable Plateau and Kaduna state means stability to the Middle Belt and the North because of what Kaduna and Plateau symbolise to the two regions”, he said.
“He received a delegation of the Middle Belt Dialogue (MBD) in his house in Abuja recently and said he was encouraged by the overture for peace and stability in the Middle Belt by the group made up of young working professionals from all the minority tribes of the Middle Belt and the North.”
According to the source, the MBD also voiced its concern that Governor Patrick Yakowa may have surrounded himself with a clique which has shielded him away from the real political reality of the state, to the extent that he may not win the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP if tribe and religion should be the yardstick.
It was learnt that Danjuma said his concern about Yakowa not winning the ticket of the PDP is the security implication it may have in the southern part of the state, who see his coming to power as compensation for the age long marginalisation which the Christian South had harboured against its northern neighbours.
“The Southern part of Kaduna state is citing the 2006 census figures to say that they are a marginal majority in the state, but that the way the wards and constituency delineation was done in the past, gives the north a heavy advantage to the extent that two-third of the wards are in the northern part”, he said.
“The MBD appeared to Danjuma as the group that would fill in the void created by the silence of the Middle Belt Forum, in which he, Danjuma is a member”, he said. Saturday Vanguard was reliably informed that Danjuma was happy to discover that the MDB was the initiative of individuals and that it was being funded by members themselves who are spread in at least 12 states of Northern Nigeria.
Saturday Vanguard then sought to find out from the Facilitator of the Middle Belt Dialogue, Mr Rima Shawulu, (an IT consultant and former correspondent with the British Broadcasting Corporation) at the temporary secretariat of the Dialogue at Utako, Abuja, if indeed the group met with Danjuma
What is the Middle Belt Dialogue all about?
The Middle Belt Dialogue is made up of professionals of the Middle Belt origin who are concerned with the voiceless nature that the region has suddenly assumed recently.
You will find practising medical doctors, lawyers, architects, journalists, bankers and even politicians but not politicians that have played prominent roles in Nigerian politics, No! We are not partisan. We are concerned with the social-economic and political issues that affects the middle belt and our space in the Nigerian polity.
We are inspired by what our fathers in the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) have done, and we intend to complement their effort.
How entrenched are you in the Middle Belt?
We are community based and we collaborated with Community Based Organisation (CBOs), Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) and Tribal Associations and Traditional Rulers. We are also working with existing groups of the Middle Belt.
We want to have one sustainable, formidable voice for the Middle Belt like other regions have, in view of the peculiar problems that we suffer as the so-called minorities of Northern Nigeria, though when you aggregate us, we are certainly not a minority as a bloc. And this will shock if you analyze the 2006 Census figures.
Who is the man sponsor of the MBD?
It will interest you to know that we do not encourage the idea of sponsorship. All the members of the MBD are working professionals and would not want anyone to stall their spirit with the “censorship” of sponsors.
We make voluntary contribution for our programmes and members do so based on what they feel they can afford. And all the programmes we have held have been very successful, and we hope to continue that way. We are not unawares of the harm that money from outside has done to many association.
For now, we are keeping sponsors out of this. No member of the MDB is in it hoping that some sponsors would foot our bills.