Northern Elders insist on presidency
Atiku in dilemma over Osinbajo, Tinubu
Political leaders in the North are currently in quandary over the next move to make over President Muhammadu Buhari’s health. New Telegraph gathered that the failing health of the president is a serious worry for the leadership of the North, who fear that the region might find itself in the same boat as they did in the lead up to the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, then the Vice President, had become acting president before Yar’Adua eventually died in May 2010. His death left the North shorthanded in the political equation, leaving Jonathan to become president when he died. Jonathan contested again in 2011 and was elected before contesting again in 2015, when he lost to Buhari.
New Telegraph gathered that the fear of the North is that such a situation might repeat itself again with Osinbajo currently acting as the president. Multiple sources, who spoke with New Telegraph, insisted that the problem now is not about Osinbajo finishing the tenure of Buhari, should the president not be able to continue, but the 2019 election, where Osinbajo, depending on his disposition might want to run again for a fresh term.
They worry that should that happen, the North might have to wait again to wrest power from the south once more. “For now, the Vice President, who is the acting president is acting like a good boy. But do you take that to mean that he will just act for Buhari until 2019 and wave goodbye to Nigeria?
That is difficult to believe. Remember what happened during Jonathan’s era. There was this gentleman’s agreement which was reached in the PDP that power should rotate between the South and the North for eight years. When Yar’Adua died and power fell for Jonathan, did he keep to the agreement?
Even former President Olusegun Obasanjo pleaded and discarded the arrangement, saying that there was no such agreement in 2011. Jonathan ran and the north had to wait for another four years to take power back in 2015,” said a source familiar with the thinking of the North. He added that if not that Jonathan and Obasanjo fell apart during that time, Jonathan might have also got another term in 2015.
He added that whatever caused the disagreement between Obasanjo and Jonathan was what led to the defeat of Jonathan.
“In 2015, the north was desperate. They needed the power back at all cost. Hence, the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the open betrayal of Jonathan even by members of his party.
Helped by Obasanjo and other leaders of thought, that was how he was defeated. If not, we would have been waiting until 2019. We are returning to that point again now.” Another source informed that the fear was not just about Osinbajo alone, but those behind him, “who have complained of marginalisation under Buhari.”
The source stated: “The fear is that you cannot trust a man with power. You don’t know what he would wake up to do next. Ordinarily, the best thing now would have been for Buhari to resign and hand over power to Osinbajo. But once he receives power, what is the guarantee that he would not want to continue beyond 2019?
He is a Professor of Law. When Buhari was away between January and March, you saw how he was accepted all over the country. If he does that until 2019, how do you tell him to go? Then, power would have, for the second time, returned to the South through the backdoor.”
It was gathered from highly placed sources that it was the Osinbajo debate that prompted the meeting between Obasanjo and former military leaders, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar in Minna recently.
Although the three former leaders did not make public their decision, it was learnt that the idea of Osinbajo running affairs until 2019 and conducting an election where the North will field fresh candidates was top on their discussion. A source said that one name that was accepted as the likely successor in 2019 is a former Governor of Kano State and former Minister of Defence, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso.
An APC chieftain said: “They may have settled for Kwankwaso because of certain factors.” Part of the reasons is that more than any other politician in the north, Kwankwaso is seen as commanding a large followership in Kano and most states of the North-West.
He is also said to be preferred by Obasanjo, who is said to be doing everything he could to ensure that Atiku Abubakar, his former vice, did not get the ticket of the presidency in 2019 in any major political party. Kwankwaso came second in the APC primaries in Lagos in 2015 while Atiku came third. New Telegraph was also informed that Atiku has, of late, became worried over Osinbajo.
A source close to Atiku told New Telegraph that the former vice president did not factor the Osinbajo’s angle to his calculations when he started crisscrossing the country in preparation for 2019.
That, it was gathered, also put a strain in Atiku’s relationship with the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The source said: “Asiwaju and Atiku were on the same chapter up till the time Buhari travelled in January. But the way the media was hyping Osinbajo in acting capacity made Atiku to wonder if Tinubu was not prepping Osinbajo up for 2019. I must be frank with you, since that time, Atiku has been viewing them with suspicion.
There is no open war really, but the trust is not much between them. Atiku feels that his ambition may be truncated by the Osinbajo/ Tinubu moves.”
It was further gathered that some northern leaders are also tinkering with the possibility of resolving the crisis in the PDP early enough as an emergency vehicle, should the calculations for a northern president not sail on the APC ship in 2019. Sources said that what happened in 2015, where the north jettisoned political differences to usher in Buhari might be an option in 2019 if matters get to that level.
But as the calculations continue, some governors of the APC from the North are also warming up for the battle of 2019. At least, three governors from the North-West are currently oiling their machines, while about two from the North-East are also doing same.
Outside the APC, a former Governor of Jigawa State, Dr. Sule Lamido is already on the field, declaring his intention to run. But the fear of the North is mainly the individual ambitions of the governors and many political heavyweights from the region, who believe that there is vacancy in Aso Rock in 2019.
There are also fears that the actions of some governors of the region might jeopardise the unity of the zone then.
2019: NORTH PANICS OVER BUHARI’S HEALTH
Northern Elders insist on presidency