By IHEANACHO NWOSU, ABUJA
The Southern Mandate, a coalition of socio-political groups, yesterday warned that a fresh plot by some northern leaders and the elite to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from seeking re-election in 2015 would plunge the nation into another crisis.
It described last weekend’s resolution by some northern groups including the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Northern Union (NU), Arewa Reawakening Forum (ARF) and Middle Belt Forum (MBF) at a meeting held last Friday in Kaduna as unacceptable and totally in bad taste.
The Southern Mandate, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Mr. Tito Zuokumor, said the northern groups’ resolve not to support Jonathan’s re-election was myopic and selfish.
The NEF chaired by Prof Ango Abdullahi alongside other notable groups, had insisted at the meeting that the region must produce the president in 2015. They blamed the disunity and crisis in the region on Jonathan’s second term ambition.
They said: “Our position is very clear on this renewed demand. There was an agreement on rotating the presidency and now, we want to warn that if the parties to the pact fail to adhere to it, the North will use its numerical strength to ensure that power returns to it in 2015. That is the position arrived at the meeting”.
But the Southern Mandate said the renewed move by the North was aimed at setting the nation on fire and stampeding Jonathan out of office by next year.
While noting that the division and crisis in the North, including the Boko Haram insurgency predated the Jonathan presidency, the group said rather than seeking for a culprit, northern leaders should blame themselves for their failure to provide purposeful leadership while they held on to political power for over three decades, during which masses in the region were deliberately impoverished.
The group said: “At a time when the entire nation, and indeed, the world is in pain and agony over the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram, it is baffling and a display of the highest level of insensitivity for northern leaders to be holding meetings and plotting how to seize power in 2015, instead of being at the forefront of efforts by the Federal Government, international community and well-meaning Nigerians to rescue the girls from captivity”.
It alleged that the fresh northern plot was initiated following the failure of Boko Haram to destabilize the Jonathan administration as intended, and the massive support offered by the international community to crush the insurgency, with the fears that the sponsors might soon be unveiled.
“The Southern Mandate wishes to state in clear terms that like others, this new plot against Jonathan will also fail. The resolve by northern leaders to abort his second term ambition is sheer day-dreaming; they are just a bunch of power mongers who have nothing meaningful to offer this country and their irrelevance would be exposed come 2015,” it stated.
On the North’s claim to the presidency in 2015 by virtue of a purported agreement on rotational presidency and an agreement to that effect, the group said the organisations which met weekend were not political parties to be discussing issues concerning zoning of elective offices, and were only out to whip up regional and religious sentiments. The Southern Mandate expressed shock that a group of persons who are supposedly leaders and elite were still talking about a non-existent pact without proof.
By IHEANACHO NWOSU, ABUJA