•Northern groups reject choice
Following the move by some interest groups to get ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua out of the way, to allow Acting President Goodluck Jonathan become substantive President, former President Olusegun Obasanjo may have again begun efforts moves to install Sokoto State Deputy Governor Muktar Shagari, as Jonathan’s Vice President, Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal.
But as the immediate past president is planning, different groups in the north are also making frantic efforts to frustrate him. Two meetings were held in Kaduna on Tuesday, with the groups’ resolve to move against Obasanjo’s choice.
Sources close to one of the meetings held by a leading northern-based interest group told Daily Sun that the group has nothing against Shagari, but members do not want Obasanjo’s hand in the process any more after deliberately unleashed Yar’Adua on them in 2007.
“You see, whether we like it or not, the truth is that Yar’Adua will have to give way. If he does not go on his own, he may be forced out. And as soon as that is done with, there will be a need for a Vice President, even if it is for one month. “So it is in preparation for this that Obasanjo has again begun plotting how to force Shagari on us. We have nothing against Shagari, but must the old man from Ota continue to dictate what we do and what we don’t do in the north? We will resist him by whatever means possible.
“Already, we have started reaching out to our elite and those who make things happen in this country. We will resist it. We want the process to throw up someone naturally,” the source said. Daily Sun learnt that the contacts made by the north’s interest groups after their meetings on Tuesday appear to be yielding result, as another name had been thrown up by Obasanjo and his group on Wednesday evening, following the opposition to Shagari’s choice.
Although Daily Sun gathered that Obasanjo has not completely given up on the choice of Shagari, in spite of the opposition, he may have equally started looking the way of Alhaji Adamu Bello, should he find it difficult pushing Shagari’s candidature through. Bello, who hails from Adamawa, is one of the longest serving ministers of agriculture as he served under Obasanjo for about six years.
But the northern establishment, would also move against Bello. There is already a tailor-made blackmail for this purpose that he failed to develop agriculture as an alternative to oil, in spite of his long stay in the ministry.
“Go to the market, the prices of garri, cassava flour, have not dropped. So if he can stay there for that long without the north feeling his impact, what can he do to benefit the north in one year? So we want someone that will benefit the north. Period!
“Obasanjo should wait, when it is the turn of the south that is after the north’s second term, he can meddle in the affairs and decide who becomes President in 2015. But he should stop meddling in our affairs.
“That we did not say anything on Yar’Adua was because we accepted it as act of God. Don’t forget, Murtala had to die for Obasanjo to be Head of State, his kinsman Abiola had to die for him to be President, the third one will not happen. He should better keep off,” one of the sources warned.
Asked to elucidate more on what he meant by the third one will not happen, the source simply said “just put it the way I said it, those with wisdom will know by the time they interpret the analysis. I know you also know.”
A very senior official of one of the major northern socio-cultural group, who also confirmed that his group had also not met over the issue, said that apart from what would happen in the next 14 months, the zone is also looking to how to make the best use of its remaining four years at the presidency.”
Hear him: “One must concede that the entire north now has an image problem. We have made a bad name for ourselves for never giving or putting up our best everytime it’s our turn to produce the President of this country. This must now stop because the north is overflowing with persons willing, able and qualified to lead this country. And we must bring them up from all our three geo-political zones without giving prefrence to any one zone.”
Asked if the move to stop Shagari was not as a result of this seeming bid to reduce the influence of Sokoto and the North-West on the politics and political patronage in the north, the official said that there was “no such movement against any section of the north.” When the need arises, Shagari would be considered just like any other person from any other part. In fact, it is those people who raise this matter that have now introduced this concept of core north that is threatening the unity of the north.
The official who actually hails from Katsina, further said that it was rather patronizing to always throw everything billed for the north at the North-West geo-political zone. “We have discovered that enemies of the north use this to divide us, by alienating other parts of the north. This thing about ‘core north’ must stop. We’ll not go out of our way to throw up anybody, based on ‘core’ or ‘non-core’ north. We must get the best, either now or in 2011 or even beyond.” he said.
SMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna/Friday, April 09, 2010