North should apologise to Nigerians over Buhari’s failures, says Edwin Clark group
Pan Niger Delta Forum on Thursday lambasted the Northern Elders Forum over its confession that it regretted that it “got rid” of then-President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections to vote in the incumbent, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
PANDEF National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, said it was too late for the Arewa group to lament its participation in the election of Buhari as President six years ago.
According to the group led by elder statesman and foremost Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, the northern elders instructed “child voters, bandits and killer herdsmen” to “get rid” of Jonathan, who is from Bayelsa State, South-South Nigeria and elect Buhari, who is from Katsina State, North-West, Nigeria.
PANDEF was reacting to a confession made by NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, on Tuesday that the group regretted voting Jonathan out of power in 2015 because Buhari has disappointed millions of Nigerians including members of the All Progressives Congress who trusted in his leadership prior to the poll six years ago.
Baba-Ahmed had said, “Is there any Nigerian who is not disappointed in President Buhari including diehard APC people? Is there anybody who would not tell you he wished President Buhari had done much better?
“We raised huge expectations, we told people, ‘Get rid of Jonathan, put Buhari there, he would fix corruption, he would fix insecurity, he would fix the economy’ (but) look at where we are now.
“How can anybody say they are happy with the record of President Buhari, even the people very close to him would tell you that they wished he could have done much better and he could have done much better and he hasn’t
“So, what we need to do now is to get ready to elect another President who would go in the opposite direction, a President who has a vision and a clear idea of what governance involves rather than just being a President. So, I am disappointed and that is why today, I am actively involved in trying to see that a new leader emerges in getting Nigerians a new lease of life.”
In its reaction, the South-South group said, “Is Mr. Baba-Ahmed just getting to realise the horrible wrong the Buhari presidency has done to this country?
“Imagine the stupid arrogance, ‘we told people, ‘Get rid of Jonathan…”. Of course, they must have told the aliens; the killer herders, the bandits, and the child voters. That’s why Boko Haram-infested Borno State will produce a greater voter turnout than peaceful Lagos State.
“These same elements have now become their albatross, kidnapping and killing innocent citizens at will.”
‘Power must shift to South in 2023’
PANDEF also said the North has been thriving on the disharmony among some Southern leaders but said that would no longer be the case now that the 17 Southern governors are speaking with one voice and are demanding a President from the South in 2023.
The group, unequivocally, said the Presidency must move to the South in 2023, adding that the north should apologise to Nigerians for the failures of Buhari six years so far.
“The only thing the North has been thriving on is the disunity of the South, now they are scared because of the solidarity being demonstrated by the Southern Governors.
“Let it be known to the deluded and unstable Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, and his cohorts, that the issue of the Presidency moving to the South in 2023 is non-negotiable. It is preposterous to even talk of another northern president in 2023, after eight years of a Northern presidency, a woeful one for that matter.
“The next President of Nigeria must come from Southern Nigeria and the person would act in such ways and manners to reflect that he or she is the President of Nigeria, not the president of a section or an ethnic group.
“The North should be satisfied with the humongous appointments, programmes and projects they have appropriated through the nepotism of the Buhari presidency. And, in fact, should render an unreserved, apology to the rest of Nigeria for the failure of the Buhari presidency.”
Goodluck Jonathan and the 2023 permutations
Jonathan, 63, –of the Peoples Democratic Party, was Nigeria’s Vice-President between 2007 and 2010. The former Bayelsa State governor assumed position as the President in 2010 after the death of then-President Umaru Yar’adua, a two-term governor of Katsina State.
Jonathan subsequently contested the 2011 presidential election and won but lost his reelection in 2015 to Buhari, a former military head of state between 1983 and 1985.
Though out of Aso Rock, Jonathan has been seen working closely with the incumbent in his role as Special Envoy of the Economic Community of West African States.
With the 2023 elections fast approaching and the clamour for power shift to the South, Jonathan, who has the legal right to one more term as Nigeria’s President as the constitution permits all eligible Nigerians to be in office for two terms of eight years, has been receiving entreaties from the APC.
Many APC chieftains have visited him in recent times, raising the stakes in permutations for the 2023 general elections.
Of late, with the wave of defections swinging in the direction of the ruling party, the National Secretary, APC Caretaker, and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, John Akpanudoedehe, said Jonathan would be given an opportunity to contest the 2023 presidency on APC platform if he chose to join the ruling party.
However, the former President has not declared any intention to contest in the forthcoming election.