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The Northern Elders Forum has said that former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan betrayed the north by trying to go against the agreed zoning in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In an interview with The Sun, Prof Ango Abdullahi said the PDP had agreed that the presidency should be rotated between the north and south but that Obasanjo tried to side-line it when he was seeking a third term in office while Jonathan should not have contested in 2015 as a northerner should have been presented.
He said:
“When PDP came into existence, there were views that were saying give the South the first shot under this rotational arrangement. There were those who were very adamant that this will not go. I remember my friend very well, may his soul rest in peace, Abubakar Rimi, refused. He said every aspirant should be given the opportunity to slug it out in the primary election. If the southerner or a northerner gets it, fine and that next time the issue of a northerner or a southerner contesting would not arise. Many of us agreed that the South should take the first shot. That was why Obasanjo and Ekwueme slugged it out

Obasanjo got the second ticket to contest for second term and he got it. I thought that everybody should be happy with that and those who are not happy should accept that another time will come for them to go particularly if they were the ones interested. But Obasanjo after eight years decided to play hara-kiri
He forgot that he came under this arrangement and this thing is entrenched in the constitution of the party. He tried to get people to work for his third term, some of them surprisingly, many of them northerners. Thank God, led by the late Olusola Saraki, under the Northern Union I was his deputy, we mobilized and defeated him. So the North was supposed to take over from Obasanjo. Eight years for Obasanjo, eight years expected of a candidate of northern extraction as the president of Nigeria. So Obasanjo came and picked Umaru Yar’Adua. You know Umaru was not elected by us. Some of us initially kicked against it, but we were told by our elders to keep our cool and since Umaru is there, a northerner, so be it. But Umaru died three years in office. I am sure you remember this. So if politics is the basis on which some of these relationships should be respected and kept, the North needs not to ask, under PDP, I am not saying under any other party, that it would provide a candidate for four more years because the fourth year of Yar’Adua would have been used by his vice-President as the constitution has provided because Jonathan was sworn in as president after Umaru’s death. So let’s say PDP under commonsense will come out and say the North where is the candidate? They did not. You argued vehemently that Jonathan should continue as president of this country against the zoning arrangement and he came out denying knowledge of this zoning arrangement. Even Obasanjo did deny that there was zoning. So there is this complete break-down of trust.
I couldn’t trust Jonathan or Obasanjo for anything having known all these and denying it and they want to be my president. This was what triggered us into saying the next president, come what may, should be of northern extraction. But of course the North gave us away, the Northern governors in particular in 2011 because that was when the North should have taken over. But they sold out. PDP governors 16 of them here in the North sold out for Jonathan to remain their candidate in 2011. We tried and our consensus candidate didn’t go so far and that was Atiku Abubakar, you remember. From that time we said okay the time has come now for us to look at our political interest first and this is how the Northern Elders Forum came into being. There is another forum, ACF, but it said it is a socio-cultural organization, but the Northern Elders Forum will be a political activist group that will defend the political interest of Northern Nigeria in Nigeria if possible. So this is how we formed it and these are the background reasons why we said under no circumstances should Jonathan win the election in 2015 and that’s why we mobilized the North and despite any claim that the North was divided, the Tanko Yakassais have sold out to Jonathan and so on. At the end, Jonathan was defeated.
On whether the north will concede power after Buhari’s eight years in office, Abdullahi said:
“The party that decided to support zoning was PDP and the party on ground that brought about the presidency of Buhari was not PDP and it is not likely to be PDP in 2019. It all depends to my mind how members of the APC particularly its leadership of the APC decides how they will play their game. For your information I am not a member of any party. What I am interested in is to remain socially and politically involved in matters of public affairs
But we learnt some bitter lessons and based on these bitter lessons, it is going to take a lot of persuasion for northerners who really went through the rigours or treatments under Obasanjo’s third term and then under Jonathan’s manipulations of his nomination in 2011 and his insistence, against the constitution of this country to contest election in 2015. If he had contested elections in 2015 and supposing he won, he would be president of Nigeria for nine years and this is against the constitution of this country.

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