The North-West and North-East zones of the Peoples Democratic Party are banking on the South-West geopolitical zone to help them wrest power from President Goodluck Jonathan come 2015.
One of the PDP governors from the zones, who confided in one of our correspondents on what he said was the plan of the North to stop Jonathan in 2015 said the zone was already reaching out to people from other parts of the country. The governor asked not to be named.
He spoke as there were indications that the Middle Belt, a major power block in the North, might not support the region’s power brokers’ bid to stop the President in 2015.
The Coordinator of the Federation of the Middle Belt People, Manasseh Watyl, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Jos, Plateau State capital, said the belt should produce the next President of the country.
But the governor from the far North who spoke to our correspondent said both the political leaders and the traditional rulers from the zone were tired of the Jonathan Presidency, which he described as “unimpressive.”
He said it was evident that the President might no longer be acceptable to the South-West, which despite the popularity of the party controlling the zone, Action Congress of Nigeria, ditched its presidential candidate in 2011 to vote for Jonathan.
He said he knew that the zone was not happy with the number of cabinet ministers assigned to it by the Presidency and “besides the people of the northern part of the country are also aware that Jonathan had refused to appoint people from the zone to strategic positions in his government.”
He said, “We are confident that we will get the support of the people from the (South) West. We are aware that the people of the zone are no longer happy with the President because of the way he treated them and their leaders.
“We are also aware that the President has refused to appoint prominent people from the zone to strategic positions and we have started meeting with the leaders of the South West.
“Those who are saying that we no longer have a monolithic north should wait. When the chips are down, we know how to handle ourselves.”
Apart from that, he said the zone would also liaise with some governors from the South-South in order to compel the President to honour his agreement with the party that he was running to complete the tenure of (President Umaru) Yar’Adua in 2010.
He said it was on the basis of that understanding that the governors and the party supported his presidential aspiration in 2010.
Faulting the Northern governors, Watyl stated that they were entitled to their opinion on the presidency in 2015.
He stated, “Like I always say, the Middle Belt is also asking for Presidency come 2015. We are qualified. The North has ruled this country for over 30 years without any improvement. Let us try somebody from the Middle Belt. Gowon did very well in bringing Nigeria together.”
On the Northern governors’ support for the Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s comment on the 2015 polls, Watyl said that this was borne out of their desperation for the presidency in 2015.
He said, “They have no option than to support Buhari because they are desperate to have the presidency back to the North. They should wait for their time. They have not spoken the minds of the Middle Belt.”
Also, the President of Afonja Descendants Union, Ilorin, Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulkarim Kasum, on Monday cautioned the northern governors who were plotting to stop Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential election to stop distracting the President.
In a telephone interview with our correspondent in Ilorin on Monday, he said the action of the governors were capable of derailing good governance and delivery of democracy dividends to the people.
Kasum said the northern governors should rather focus their energies and resources on providing good governance in their states, rather than plotting against Jonathan.
Meanwhile, investigations have revealed that the Northern governors’ defence of Buhari in his altercation with the Presidency was borne out of fear of confrontation with the former head of state.
Our correspondents learnt that because of the security situation in the core north, the governors decided to avoid a confrontation with Buhari.
An aide to one of the governors in the North-West, who pleaded anonymity, told one of correspondents that “The governors’ statement was meant to defuse tension in the polity. Many people in the far North have rightly or wrongly taken Buhari as a folk hero. They think he is representing the interest of the core north.
“If the governors had attacked Buhari, they would have succeeded in whipping up support and sentiment for him. Their reaction was very diplomatic.”
The former head of state, had, while hosting members of the CPC from Niger State who had paid him a courtesy visit in Kaduna, warned the PDP against rigging the 2015 polls, else there would be bloodshed in the country.
Since Buhari made the comment, there had been altercations between him and the Presidency. But while the PDP had also attacked the former head of state, the Northern Governors Forum had said that Buhari’s statement was in order.