Battle For 2015 Gathers Steam

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Just as the dust is settling on the April 2011 general elections, Nigerian politicians have kick-started the race for the 2015 general election which will feature the presidential and parliamentary elections and majority of the governorship positions.

In the North, forces within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are already positioning for the election in different directions. There is the emerging force of the governors, especially in the three zones of the North, while in the South, things have been silent with unclear signals coming from the camp of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Opposition political forces in the North have also been coalescing around General Buhari, founder of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, who is still being persuaded by his loyalists to join the race. He had said during the last contest that the 2011 election would be his last.

Notable Contenders

Names already coming to the fore include Vice President Namadi Sambo, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido; Niger State governor, Muazu Babangida Aliyu; his Bauchi State counterpart, Mallam Isa Yuguda; Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako; and Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Aliyu Magartakarda Wammako.

Others include Senate President David Mark, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, former Kwara State governor, Senator Bukola Saraki; former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai; among others.

Silent realignments

Movements in the Northern political sphere in recent months have suggested a realignment of forces, with the likes of former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida; former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar; and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar holding strategic meetings.

Though the meetings were portrayed as avenues to discuss the security situation in the country, especially the menace of Boko Haram, which has ravaged the Northern states, feelers indicated that the leaders tried to send a signal by holding a public meeting.

On the heels of the Babangida-Atiku-Abdusalami parley was another gathering of Northern political, bigwigs put together by Dr. Junaid Mohammed. While the parley by Babangida and others gave an indication that it was concerned about resolving the security challenge in the North, the concerned eminent Northern leaders led by Dr. Mohammed did not hide their direction.

The group projected itself as the mouthpiece of the North, stating emphatically that it would back the convocation of a National Conference which would guarantee the adjustment of the current revenue formula.

The group expressed the belief that the revenue formula is skewed in favour of the South-South, which now enjoys the 13 per cent derivation funds as a result of oil exploration activities in the states.

The Northern elders, in a statement endorsed by the convener of the meeting Dr. Muhammed, said going by the growing conflicts and insecurity in the land, time was ripe for the restructuring of Nigeria.

Those who attended the meeting include governors of Niger and Jigawa states, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, and Alhaji Sule Lamido; former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu; former Deputy Senate President, Dr. John Wash-Pam; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed; former ministers including, Dr. Shettima Mustapha, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri and Malam Lawal Batagarawa, and a former Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council, Professor Nur Alkali.

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Others include former Chairman of Langtang South Local Government Area of Plateau State, Mr. Solomon Dalung; former Presidential Legal Advisers, Ibrahim Ismail and Professor Awwal Yadudu.

The statement read: “The meeting resolved to support the calls for the restructuring of the Nigerian Federation in the hope that the lopsidedness in the structure of the nation’s politics and economy will be a key agenda issue.

“It then called on the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) to liaise with other stakeholders in the North, such as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Union (NU), Jama’atul Nasirl Islam (JNI), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), women, youths and students’ bodies and other groups to join hands to tackle the identified threats confronting the region.”

Political Platform reliably gathered that a flurry of political activities actually took place around February and early March to indicate that the North was flagging off the race for 2015.

Dr. Mohammed was to follow up the meeting he convened with press interviews during which he let the veil off the agenda of the North. He said the region ought to do everything it could to win back power in 2015.

The Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, which had discussed the issue of 2015 at two meetings, held early in the year, also kick-started its reengineering plans with Mallam Nasir el-Rufai as the head.

The party is yet to clear the air on whether it has been able to convince its founder, General Buhari, to re-contest the general election or whether it would allow former Minister of the FCT, el-Rufai, to take a shot at the Presidency.

Northern governors’ crucial meetings

Besides the meetings of the former leaders and the one called by Dr. Muhammed, some influential governors of the North also held series of meetings in Kaduna.

After one of the meetings, Niger State governor, Babangida, declared at an event marking the inauguration of the Sadauna Foundation, that economic restructuring was imperative in the land. He gave examples where some states were believed to be doing very well, while others were merely able to pay salaries.

The North-Central also sees itself as a marginalised area. It has never produced a democratically-elected president since Nigeria’s independence.

Currently, the North-West has the nation’s number two citizen, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the North-Central has the president of the Senate, Senator David Mark, while the North-East has the national chairman of the PDP.

With some of the above mentioned political heavyweights already putting finishing touches to the expected battle of 2015, it is expected that the political terrain would soon get flooded with messages of varying dimensions, all wooing the electorate to focus on the democratic dividends of the future

—Jamiu Yisa