President worsened poverty, we won’t support him – Ango Abdullahi
•You cannot stop him – Gen. Tarfa,
Barely three months to next year’s elections, some northern leaders say they will not support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
They, however, shied away from announcing their preferred presidential candidate in the elections, insisting that the candidate to support remained one of their own from the list of the 71 presidential hopeful cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the 2019 elections.
The only other high profile candidate in the 2019 presidential election is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Convener of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi, spoke the mind of the northern leaders in Kaduna.
However, three key officials of NEF immediately distanced themselves from Abdullahi’s position, saying they were solidly behind Buhari and will do everything possible to get him re-elected next year.
The trio – Maj. Gen. Paul Tarfa, Capt. Basir Sodangi and Sani Daura – said in a statement that Buhari deserved re-election because of his excellent performance and the fact that replacing him would turn the hand of development backward.
According to Abdullahi, a former Ahmadu Bello University Vice Chancellor, the Northern Elders arrived at the decision to dump Buhari for another northern presidential candidate because of his failure to fulfil the basic conditions they handed to him in 2015 when they rejected then – President Goodluck Jonathan and elected him.
“Two of the conditions we gave Buhari upon his assumption of office were that he should take concrete steps to address the abject poverty and underdevelopment in the North and he has woefully failed to marginally address any of them,” he said.
The NEF leader also accused the President of bringing strange elements into government, thereby adding no value to governance and “we are vindicated on this score because his wife, Aisha, has confirmed that this week”.
He went on: “Assuming that things are working in the North or in Nigeria as a whole, we would have taken a different position but everyone can see that things are not working under this government. Perhaps, as a prelude to where this government has taken this country, Buhari wasted six months before being able to set up his cabinet.
“And when he eventually formed the cabinet, he brought in persons who had not added any value to governance and his wife has vindicated us on this.
“As things stand today, we in the NEF do not believe that Nigeria’s cause will be helped by Buhari’s re-election in 2019. That is why we have decided to pick one of the other presidential candidates from the North for next year’s contest.
“It would be futile for anyone to blame anybody for the decision of the NEF against Buhari because his own wife has openly alluded to our position that some persons, who do not have the interest of Nigeria at heart, are running the Buhari administration without adding real value to the governance of Nigeria”.
Abdullahi, who served as former President Obasanjo’s Special Adviser on Food Security, pointed out that Buhari was the architect of his own misfortune, having repeatedly rebuffed all entreaties by northern leaders to meet with him and address the issues raised against him.
However, the decision by the NEF to dump Buhari in 2019 has not gone down well with some members of the NEF who openly disagreed with the leadership.
‘There was no time NEF decided to reject Buhari’
Three men, who are foundation members of NEF- Maj. Gen. Paul Tarfa, Capt. Basir Sodangi and Sani Daura – said there was no justification for the North to reject Buhari in 2019, given the fact that he had taken the country to the next level, having taken over the reins of power at a time there was widespread insecurity, corruption and economic decay.