August 6, 2013

North needs 4 yrs to groom Jonathan’s replacement – Abba-Gana

North needs 4 yrs to groom Jonathan’s replacement –  Abba-Gana

Bwacha and Abba-Gana

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Elder statesman and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mohammed Abba-Gana, has dismissed assertions of a united northern opposition against President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said Prof. Ango Abdullahi and the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, do not speak for all northern elders.

Bwacha and Abba-Gana

Bwacha and Abba-Gana

Abba-Gana, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trustees, BoT, said the North presently would need at least four years to search for a suitable presidential material that could unify the north, adding that after producing nine of the country’s leaders, the North should give other sections a break.

Abba-Gana spoke as Senator Emmanuel Bwacha from Taraba State, also dissociated northern minorities from the clamour for power shift back to the north.

The two spoke at two different interactions with newsmen in Lagos.

Abba-Gana also endorsed the proposal for President Jonathan to be offered the right of first refusal to the PDP presidential ticket in 2015.

He said the proposal first articulated by the chairman of PDP BoT, Chief Tony Anenih, was logical on the basis of what he claimed as the achievements of the president.

Abba-Gana also dismissed the newly merged All Progressives Congress, APC, as a hurricane warning for PDP, adding, however, that it will blow over without much damage.

He said: “The North is not against Jonathan because there are several well respected northern leaders who are supporting him.

“The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi, is just an interest group which is pursuing what I see as their own view of Northern interest. But there are other groups which are against them in the same region.”

“Some people in the North want the presidency to come back to the region in 2015, but at the same time, others are saying that there is nothing wrong in allowing Jonathan to complete his eight years for fairness.

“Allowing Jonathan another four years will not take anything away from the North.

“Mind you, the region has produced about eight or nine former heads of state of this country and it did not take away the poverty from the North.”

“Political parties are the only recognised institution through which one can present oneself for an election and not through non-governmental organisations like NEF or Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF. So, Ango Abdullahi and his group cannot organize any primary to nominate a candidate for the polls.”

Giving his endorsement of the Anenih proposal for Jonathan to be offered the right of first refusal to the PDP ticket, he said:
“This is a democracy, so the PDP as a party will not suppress the aspiration of anyone. But we should realise that the PDP has a sitting president and if Jonathan says that he wants to seek for a second term, there is no way the party will say no.

“If the President says he will like to seek another term, most of us will support him, because it would be very unwise even for the PDP itself to bring out another person while Jonathan is still sitting in the Aso Villa. How will you force him to support the new candidate?”

“I am a very loyal and committed member of the PDP and I am also a member of the Board of Trustees and Chief Tony Anenih is my chairman and I wouldn’t want to contradict my chairman in any way,” he added.

Adding that the North needs another four years to search for a credible leader, he said:

“If you ask me, I will say that the North needs another four years to plan; relate better and work hard to resolve the Boko Haram and Jos crises. We also need to search for, and groom a leader who will unite the North and at the same time give Nigerians good leadership. We can’t do this in a crash programme.”

Commending the achievements of the Jonathan administration which he claimed were achieved despite distractions, he said:

“Some of the crises that we have now were not created by President Jonathan. For example, the Boko Haram insurrection has been there before Jonathan came in and I must say that it is worse than the Nigeria/Biafran war.

“The crisis is a misfortune but inspite of it, Jonathan is doing a lot of work, so we should commend him because no nation can face such level of insurrection and still carry on with governance and infrastructural development.”

Senator Bwacha in another interaction also dissociated northern minorities from the clamour of Abdullahi’s NEF as he gave a ringing endorsement of the achievements and performance of the president.

“I am a Northerner and I am telling you, this is my opinion and I can tell you that the preponderance of opinion of northern minorities is for Jonathan to continue.

“Now the South-South has taken its first turn and it is going to take its second turn in 2015 and we believe Nigeria should give him that opportunity so that all of us will have that sense of belonging.”