Apex Northern socio-political group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, and two prominent Northerners, Dr. Junaid Mohammed and Shehu Sani, have described the raging debate over the 2015 presidential election as “unnecessary and distractive.”
They were reacting to reports of the alleged endorsement of Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo as a possible candidate in the 2015 presidential election.
Obasanjo had at the first Jigawa State Economic Forum in the state capital, Dutse, on Wednesday said, “People of Jigawa, I congratulate you and I congratulate myself; because you can say yes Obasanjo put this one (Lamido) on us, he is a good person.
“It comes to one thing that you will say, you can help anybody to find a job but you cannot help anybody to do the job. If he is not ready to do the job hmmmmm… in this case, we found a job for Sule Lamido and Sule Lamido was ready willing, able, and competent to do the job. Congratulations.”
National Publicity Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, however, said, talking about 2015 now was “too early and distractive.”
He said, “I do not expect the media to promote this (politics of 2015) at this point in time. This is because it would be too early and distracting from governance.
“Moreso, Nigerians are expected to confront our security challenges collectively.”
In separate interviews with our correspondents in Abuja and Kaduna on Thursday, Mohammed, who is the convener of the Committee of Concerned Northern Professionals, Politicians, Academics and Businessmen, and Sani, who is the executive director of the Civil Rights Congress, said the ex-president was not in a position to speak for the North.
Junaid said, “I was there. I saw Obasanjo before he presented the speech and after he presented the speech.
“What he said was in no way an endorsement for Lamido for the 2015 election. I wouldn’t want to dignify that with a comment.
“But let me ask you this question. Can Obasanjo deliver even his village, Owu? Or even Abeokuta? The thing is not over until it is over. So, don’t even bother yourself about that.
“Obasanjo is now a private citizen; he is in no position to choose a person for us. For you to say he has endorsed somebody, has he even won an election himself before?
Also speaking, Sani said, “I don’t know the criteria which Obasanjo used to endorse Lamido but what I read in the papers is different from the speech I listened to on the radio.
“It is possible that he may have been quoted out of context but in reality, if Lamido is interested in the presidency, then he should come out from his cage.
“He should have the courage to speak out against Jonathan, against the continuation of Jonathan in office.
“He should be heard and he should stand tall among the people who are today fighting to save this country from the incompetence of Jonathan.”
Sani also said the North was likely to present a common candidate.
He said, “Not only that the North will present a common candidate, the opposition parties will present a candidate that will be appealing to the North and the South.
“The North should not simply produce one candidate but as an opposition, there should be a credible candidate that is acceptable to all Nigerians.”
Speaking further, Sani said the ongoing crisis in the NGF could be a foretaste of the 2015 presidential election.
He said, “As to the crisis in the Nigerian Governors Forum, it is not inspiring and therefore disappointing. This is precisely because if 36 governors cannot elect their leaders democratically, then it means expecting too much from 73 million Nigerian voters to make judicious use of their democratic rights and make their votes count for the express purpose of nudging elected leaders to be accountable to the people.”