The National Coordinator, Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has criticised two umbrella groups of the North, the Northern Elders’ Forum and the Arewa Consultative Forum for their insistence on presidency in 2015.
He said rather than call for rotation of power, the electorate should be free to elect leaders who were fair and just from any part of the country.
He further said democracy must be premised on credible elections, which must be conducted by impartial, independent and unbiased umpire.
Mohammed told our correspondent in an interview on Friday that he was not opposed to the two bodies, provided their goal was achieved in a democratic manner.
“Not everybody who speaks on behalf of the North is actually speaking the heart of the North. When you check the credentials of these people, who are they to speak for the North? How many times have they won any form of election?” he asked.
He criticised the military regimes of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, which, according to him, added no value to the North despite being their origin.
He warned that power should not be handed over to those who would not add value to the region when it eventually returned.
He said, “Of what use was IBB’s tenure as Head of State? What benefit did be bring to the North, I want know? Tell me what he did for the North. If these are the kind of people the North wants to bring to government, they should forget about me. They should excommunicate me and say I’m not a northerner.
“I only want people who are fair, honest and patriotic; who will treat everybody fairly, not because they are northerners. I have seen some honourable governors and I have seen some very horrible governors.”
While faulting the zoning formula of the Poeples Democratic Party, which was adopted during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mohammed said it would be undemocratic to restrict public offices to zones in the country.
He said, “Neither Obasanjo nor all those clamouring for return of power to the North are speaking for the North. Those who are saying power must go to the North (in 2015) are not democrats. Anybody who insists that power must go to somewhere by circumventing the principle of free and fair election is not a democrat.”
Mohammed further said it was wrong for those who were not part of the meeting in which President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly signed a one-term pact with the North to deny the deal.
He said the meeting had Jonathan, governors (some of whom are in their second term) in attendance.
“I was neither the president nor a governor; that shows that I was not present at the meeting. Dr. Edwin Clark and some people who were not governors at that point in time were not at the meeting but they were the ones denying the pact.
“The President has not come out to say no, there was no such thing. But, the governors said there is an agreement. Most of those talking were not part of the meeting and no amount of noise making by anybody will settle the issue,” Mohammed said.
Six northern organisations – Arewa Consultative Forum and the Northern Elders’ Forum, Arewa Reawakening Forum, Arewa Research and Development Project, Northern Union and the Code Group – had on July 16, 2013, insisted that the North must produce the nation’s President in 2015.
At a joint news conference in Kaduna, the NEF spokesman and former Adviser on Food Security to Obasanjo, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who spoke for the groups, insisted that an existing agreement that the Presidency should return to the region must be strictly followed.