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Saturday, 21 December 2013

The 151 Northerners to be ‘consulted’ for Jonathan

by Nuruddeen M. Abdallah 
Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu
A document prepared by people working for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election in 2015 listed 151 top northerners to be “consulted.” Weekly Trust exclusively obtained the document and spoke to some of the people whose names appeared on it.
In an effort to get the North to support the reelection bid of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, the president’s men drew up a list of 151 prominent personalities, including staunch critics, from the region’s 19 states who are to be ‘consulted’ for their support.
The document, now in possession of Weekly Trust, was said to have been compiled and prepared by a leading political operator from Bauchi State, who is in the forefront of the president’s reelection campaign.
Also according to the document, the shortlisted personalities were to be “consulted” by the president’s “contact group” headed by a well known electronic media mogul from the southern part of the country. The contact group is to reach out to those on the list, which contains the names of prominent traditional rulers, elder statesmen, members of the intelligentsia, politicians, retired public servants, former military and security chiefs, famous businessmen, among others, to get their support. 
Setting the ball rolling
Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, was the first to publicly raise an alarm over the list.
Speaking during the 25 anniversary of the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umaru Bahago recently, Aliyu alleged that the names of 400 prominent northerners have been shortlisted by the presidency to support Jonathan’s candidacy in 2015.
Shortly after the disclosure by the Niger State governor, the chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, whose named also appeared on the list, confirmed obtaining the document.
In a statement he personally signed, the ACF chairman said “those seeking or advising the president to offer inducements in exchange for support are clearly taking the matter of the President’s re-election away from performance in office to something else. If that is the case, they will be well advised to leave Northern leaders out of it, because the so called list which we have seen, indeed contain names of some of the most respected people in Northern Nigeria.”
Mohammed went further to say that “we have however made enquiries within the government and have spoken with many of the people whose names are on the list and they confirmed to us that they know nothing whatsoever about it. No one has met them nor are they interested in meeting any one on the issue.”
Though the Niger State governor alleged that about 400 northerners were shortlisted, the document obtained by Weekly Trust listed only 151 personalities. Our sources who said they have seen the list also confirmed that it contained 151 individuals.
A list and its inaccuracies
The list, titled “Northern Elders to be contacted by the … contact group,” is not signed, which puts doubts to its authenticity. There were also a number of inaccuracies, which include listing names of people who are deceased like the Second Republic politician and Minister of Labour under Abacha, Senator Uba Ahmed, who died last year.
The late Ahmed, who hailed from Kaltungo in Gombe State, appeared on the list under Bauchi State.
The inaccuracies on the list suggest that those behind it may actually be in a hurry to curry favour from the presidency. It also shows that the list might have been drafted long ago, when some of the listed personalities were alive.
Further analysis of the document shows that 63 personalities were shortlisted from the North-West, 49 from the North-Central and 39 from the North-East.
A state-by-state breakdown shows that 15 people were shortlisted from Adamawa State alone, followed by Katsina (14), Kano (11), Jigawa (10), Borno (10), Kebbi (9), Plateau (9), Benue (9), Bauchi (8) and Kaduna (7).
Kogi, Kwara, Taraba, Sokoto and Zamfara states had six people each from; while Yobe, Gombe and Niger States had five people each. Only four were listed for Nasarawa State.
Also, the Emir of Katagum and Emir of Azare, which is one and the same emirate, appeared on the list as two individuals.
Similarly, the name of the former People’s Democratic Party national Chairman, Chief Solomon Lar, who died recently, also appeared on the list.
Also, the list shows that of the four living former heads of state from the northern part of the country, only former President Shehu Shagari was mentioned in the list.
Former vice chancellor and Chief Imam of Kano is the only religious leader in the entire list analysed by Weekly Trust. Aside him, there are no other Muslim or Christian clerics on the list.
On the other hand, the document shows that 45 traditional rulers, comprising first class emirs and chiefs were short-listed for the consultation.
Also, 16 of the short-listed personalities are retired military generals, four are retired police chiefs and two are retired national security advisers.
Out of the 151 names on the list, only two – Naja’atu Muhammed and Helen Gomwalk from Kano and Plateau states respectively – are women.
Prominent critics of President Jonathan such as Dr. Junaidu Muhammed and Prof. Ango Abdullahi also appeared on the list.
The list also contained key figures from the academia such as Prof. Nura Alkali, who served as a member of the Boko Haram dialogue committee and Prof. Dandatti Abdulkadir, a former vice chancellor of Bayero University Kano (BUK).
The shortlisted personalities
The 15 personalities to be consulted in Adamawa are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former ambassador Alhaji Hassan Adamu, former Minister of Trade and Industry during General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime Dr Mahmud Tukur, former Minister of Education and Petroleum Prof. Jubril Aminu, Chief Joel Madaki, Senator Jonathan Zwingina, Senator Paul Wampana, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd), former Inspector General of Police  Alhaji Gambo Jimeta, former Minister of Agriculture Alhaji Adamu Bello, former presidential aspirant Alhaji Dauda Birma, Lamido of Adamawa, Emir of Mubi, Chief of Bachama, and Emir of Ganye.
In Bauchi, the eight people shortlisted are: elder statesman Alhaji Bello Kirfi, ACF chairman Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Alhaji Aminu Saleh, Second Republic politician Senator Uba Ahmed (late), and emirs of Azare, Katagum (Azare and Katagum is one and the same emirate), Dass and Bauchi.
The nine people from Benue are deputy chairman of the Northern Elders’ Forum Mr Paul Unongo, Chief Isaac Shaanu, former House of Representatives Speaker Benjamin Chaha, Senator Ameh Ebute, General GeofferyEjiga (rtd), former Senate President IyorchiaAyu, General Lawrence Onoja (rtd), the Tor Tiv and the Ochi Idoma.
In Borno, the 10 people are elderstatesman Shettima Ali Munguno, former Governor Alhaji Muhammed Goni, former Governor Alhaji Asheikh Jarma, former ACF chairman retired General IBM Haruna, Prof. Nura Alkali, former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff, Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Imam, the Shehu of Dikwa and Shehu of Borno.
The five people in Gombe are: Emirs of Gombe, Dukku and Akko, Senator Adamu Waziri and Alhaji Sa’idu Kumo.
In Jigawa, the 10 people are former Governor SaminuTuraki, AVM Mukhtar Mohammed, former Minister of Power during Abacha’s regime Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, Alhaji Ibrahim Babankowa, Alhaji Saleh Hassan Hadejia, former Minister Senator Bello Maitama Yusuf, emirs of Dutse, Hadejia, Ringim and Gwaram.
From Kano, 11 people were shortlisted. They are Second Republic politician Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, Dr Junaidu Muhammed, chairman of Northern Elders’ Forum Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, son of the late Head of State Sani Abacha Alhaji Muhammed Abacha, business mogul Alhaji Aminu Dantata, former House of Representatives speaker Ghali Umar Na’abba, Galadiman Kano Alhaji Tijjani Hashim, Prof. Dandatti Abdulkadir, Chief Imam of Kano Prof. Sani Zaharaddeen, former National Security Adviser to Abacha Alhaji Sama’ila Gwarzo and frontline politician Hajiya Naja’atu Bala Muhammed.
The 14 personalities from Katsina are elderstateman Alhaji Ahmadu Kurfi, former Inspectors General of Police Alhaji M.D. Yusuf and Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, Second Republic politicians Alhaji Lawal Kaita and Alhaji Musa Musawa, former presidential aspirant Alhaji Lema Jibrilu, business mogul Alhaji Isma’ila Isa Funtua, Dr Usman Bugaje, former Minister Alhaji Sani Zangon Daura, former Governor Alhaji Abba Musa Rimi, Senator M.A. Danmusa, business mogul Alhaji Umaru Mutallab and Emirs of Katsina and Daura.
The 14 names from Kebbi are: former Governor Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, former Minister of Water Resources under President Obasanjo Muhammed Bello Khaliel, former Emir of Gwandu Al-Mustapha Haruna Jokolo, former Comptroller General of Customs Alhaji Abubakar Musa, former Chief of Army Staff Ishaya Bamaiyi, Senator Mohammed Magoro, Emirs of Argungu, Yauri and Zuru.
In Kaduna, the seven shortlisted names are retired General Zamani Lekwot, spokesperson of Northern Elders’ Forum Prof. Ango Abdullah, Nigerian High Commissioner in London Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, former Minister of Petroleum Alhaji Rilwanu Lukman, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Alhaji Gidado Idris, Second Republic Minister Alhaji Umaru Dikko and Emir of Zazzau.
The seven people from Kogi are Alhaji Sule Yaji, former governorship candidate Alhaji Jubril Isah Echocho, Air Commodore I. Alfa (rtd), Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, SAN, the Attah Igala and Attah of Igbira.
Six people were shortlisted from Kwara. They are former Governor Cornelius Adebayo, Alhaji Shuaibu Lafiagi, former Inspector General of Police Chief Sunday Adewusi, former Nigerian permanent representative in the United Nations Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Emir of Ilorin and Etsu of Pategi.
The four people from Nasarawa are Second Republic politician Alhaji Isiyaku Ibrahim, Emirs of Lafia, Keffi and Nasarawa.
In Niger, five names were shortlisted. They are retired General Inuwa Wushishi, retired Col. Sani Bello, Emir of Suleja, Etsu Nupe and Emir of Lapai.
The nine people from Plateau are Senator John Wash Pam, wife of the late military administrator of Plateau State Mrs Helen Gomwalk, Chief Solomon Lar (who died recently), former ambassador Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, frontline politician Alhaji Saleh Hassan, former FCT minister retired General Jerry Useni, retired Air Commodore Bernard Banfa, former defence chief retired General Domkat Bali and former Nigerian Customs Service chief and Gbong Gwong Jos Chief Jacob Gyang Buba.
The six people from Sokoto are former President Shehu Shagari, former Finance Minister Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, former Sultan of Sokoto Ibrahim Dasuki, Alhaji Mohammed Arzika, Alhaji Yusuf Yabo and former Governor Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa.
The six names from Taraba are former Defence Minister T.Y. Danjuma, former Governor Jolly Nyame, Emir of Muri, Aku Uka of Wukari, former Minister Idris Waziri and Mr Baba Adi.
In Yobe, the five names are Alhaji Adamu Fika, elderstateman Adamu Ciroma, Emirs of Fika, Potiskum and Damaturu.
The six names shortlisted from Zamfara are: former National Security Adviser Umaru Shinkafi, former Governor Yahaya Abdulkarim, Emirs of Anka, Gusau, Tsafe and Kauran Namoda.
Their reactions
Atiku, who spoke through his spokesperson Malam Garba Shehu, said “we are aware about the list even though we don’t have it.” He said that “nobody contacted him yet. In fact, this is laughable. They are just wasting their time.”
Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim said “I knew of this list but I wasn’t contacted. But I am still waiting.”
He said that he learned that the contact group is going round disbursing $50,000 to each of the shortlisted people. “They haven’t contacted me yet because they know my relationship with General Buhari. I can’t be part of that mess. But I am still waiting for them,” he said.
Chief Benjamin Chaha told Weekly Trust on telephone that “I don’t know whether my name is on any list. The group has not contacted me yet.”
When contacted, Alhaji Adamu Bello said that “I have not been contacted. I was not aware that my name is on that list.”
He added that “I won’t be surprised if the president feels that I should be contacted because we have worked together before.”
Abubakar Dangiwa Umar said that “believed me nobody has contacted me,” adding that “I don’t see anything wrong in the president’s men reaching out to people.”
“Once INEC lifts campaign ban, all presidential aspirants would start reaching out to people for support,” Umar said.
He added that “People like Obasanjo are making great error, trying to stop Jonathan from seeking re-election as guaranteed in the constitution. He should be allowed to contest, only the electorates have the right to either reject him or vote for him. But he should be allowed to contest.”
Dr Paul Unongo told Weekly Trust on telephone that “I can confirm to you that I am not aware that my name is on that list. I can confirm to you also that I have not been contacted by the group.”
Dr Usman Bugaje said that “Yes, I have a copy of the list. But I have not been contacted by the group. I hope that they don’t.”
General J.T. Useni said that “I have not seen the list yet and I have not been contacted.”
Dr Junaidu Muhammad told Weekly Trust on telephone that “I know nothing about the list and the contact group. I don’t know whether such contact group exists.”
But he admitted meeting High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the Chairman of AIT and Ray Power. He said that Dokpesi texted him after he came to Kano and met some northern leaders.
“After he went back to Abuja, he texted me saying that he wanted to meet with me. He explained to me that a particular northern elder blocked me from meeting him when he came to Kano.
“So, he came back to Kano again and we met. Our discussion centered on the state of the nation and how Jonathan administration has failed to address the crucial issues affecting the country,” Junaidu said.
When Weekly Trust asked him whether the issue of money in exchange for supporting Jonathan’s reelection in 2015, he said that “nothing like that took place. No issue of money or supporting Jonathan’s reelection bid was raised during the meeting.
“My loyalty to the north can’t be compromised with money. I am far above that even though I know dozens of northern elders presently under the payroll of the presidency. I can’t be bought over,” Junaidu said.
‘The whole thing is blackmail’
When Weekly Trust contacted Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, he said that “I have not been contacted.” He said that “the whole thing is blackmail. I can’t be blackmailed into supporting any candidate I don’t like.”
He said that “is it not (Governor Mu’azu) Babangida Aliyu that started the whole talk. Where is he today? Is he not in PDP? I am not partisan.”
“I can decide to support Jonathan today and I don’t fear anybody. I can tell you that nobody can win election in the north without our support. Our support is very vital to any candidate seeking election in this part of the country. So, nobody can blackmail me,” Yakasai said.
Several attempts to get the presidency speak on the matter were not successful. When our reporter sought reactions the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, the head of media relations in that office Mr Bamidele Salam, referred Weekly Trust to the Political Adviser to the President Ahmed Gulak. Attempts to speak to Gulak were not successful as he neither picked calls put through his mobile phone nor replied message sent to it.
But shortly after the allegations by Babangida Aliyu, Gulak dismissed it, saying “What I can simply say is that Mr. President is not used to bribing people.”


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