By SONI DANIEL
ABUJA— As Nigerians prepare for the 2015 election, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, has said it will be very difficult for President Goodluck Jonathan to receive the support of the people of the North in the next polls.
Masari said Jonathan has not only failed the people of the region but has also disappointed Nigerians with the way he has carried on since his emergence in 2010.
The politician, who spoke exclusively with Vanguard, lamented that Jonathan’s Presidency had not impacted positively on Nigerians but had tended to widen ethnic and tribal divide and stoke the embers of disunity and disintegration.
This, according to him, was borne out of the fact that Jonathan was running the country more as a tribal leader than the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and had surrounded himself with people who had little or no experience about Nigeria and governance.
Masari said, “Jonathan will have it difficult in 2015 because his utterances are not unifying the nation. His failure is not only in the North but across the country.
“He is dividing the people the more. He is a product of destiny and his handlers should handle him as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not the President of Ijaw nation, Niger Delta, South-South or Southern Nigeria.
“Some of the Northern leaders who ruled this country made a lot of sacrifices in order to be fair and just to other federating units, without concentrating to enrich certain sections of the country.
“I wonder those in the North who will vote for him because they have not felt the impact of his government in any way. His failure is not only in the North but in all parts of the country.
“I did not vote for him in 2011 and I will not vote for him in 2015,” the politician, who decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to contest the governorship of Katsina State last year, said.
Turning to the ongoing debate on oil dichotomy, Masari, who was speaker between 2003 and 2007, defended the passage of the Act in 2005, saying that it was borne out of popular demand by Nigerians at the time.
Backs Northern govs on onshore/offshore dichotomy
He maintained that what the lawmakers did was in the overall interest of the nation considering the demand by littoral states to be paid oil revenue taken from as far as 500 nautical miles.
But he backed demand by Northern governors for a review of the oil dichotomy, pointing out that it was their right to call for the amendment of the law based on emerging realities.
“Anybody who wants an amendment is free to do so because the Act is not sacrosanct. Even the constitution is amendable.
“But we must avoid playing to the gallery by calling some people sectional or tribal champions because it is the inalienable right of all Nigerians to seek redress on matters that are inimical to their well being and progress,” he said.
Although the politician absolved the National Assembly and former President Obasanjo of any wrongdoing in respect of the political solution adopted to end the dichotomy crisis, Masari warned uninformed commentators on the issue to desist from playing to the gallery in their apparent quest to distort history.
He warned, “So in asking for the amendment of the Act, no one should try to play to the gallery because I was the Speaker and I have the records.
“I know those who spoke to us and those who did not speak to us considering our position on the law. But an Act of the National Assembly can be revisited based on certain information that is now available to the public.
Blames Obasanjo on lingering executive, legislature face-off
Masari, however, blamed Obasanjo for laying the foundation for the lingering executive-legislative discord in Nigeria by not respecting the laws and resolutions passed by the National Assembly, thereby making a mockery of the members and their constituents.
He said it was his deep sense of disrespect that has emboldened Jonathan’s regime to insist that motions and resolutions of the National Assembly were not binding but merely advisory.
Disagreeing with the nation, Masari opined, “Motions can be binding in a responsible government but our problem started with Obasanjo who had very little respect for the National Assembly right from 1999 till he left in 2007.
“He created that situation of disrespecting the motions and resolutions of the National Assembly. Sometimes he found it very difficult to implement the Act, which was passed by the National Assembly, one of them being the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC Act.
Governors as sole administrators
The former Speaker also lambasted governors for usurping the powers and functions of the local government councils, Houses of Assembly and other government agencies all in a selfish bid to control everything.
“I think that governors have done more disservice to this democratic dispensation than any other group in terms of abuse of powers.
“What we are seeing in Nigeria today is a reminder of the Native Authority system because the local governments are not functioning, the governor is the only one who takes all decisions, no commissioner is anything, the state Houses of Assembly are not even up to rubber stamp.
“So we are seeing a sole administrator system in Nigeria today because of the overwhelming influence of the governors. Even the Native Authority System was better because even before the colonialists left the Home Office was looking at the governors and the emirs but today nobody is controlling the governors.