Though, the election to choose a new President of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) is slated for Monday and Tuesday next week, it has emerged that the incoming executive officers for the forum have already been been decided by its members.
It was further gathered that it was the inability by the presidency to ensure that Northern elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, is elected Chairman of ACF in the run up to the 2015 elections, that necessitated the formation of the Northern Elders Council (NEC) with the 87-year-old Yakassai as its head.
According to sources in the ACF, the presidency has been angling for ways to penetrate the ACF, which is deemed the most influential socio-cultural and political pan-Northern group.
In order to achieve this, the presidency threw its weight behind Yakassaiâ€™s emergence as the chairman of the forum.
But the presidencyâ€™s plan fell flat on its face, as members of the ACF have agreed on consensus candidates who will emerge executive officers next week to run the forum.
According to an ACF source, â€œThey (presidency) saw a chance to take over the leadership in the up-coming election on February 17 and 18 in Kaduna.
â€œThey positioned the 87-year-old Alhaji Tanko Yakasai to take over through a well-oiled campaign. But Yakasai turned out to be a total reject in his own zone, the North-west.
â€œThe zone, which was asked to produce the chairman of the association as well as the deputy chairman of the Board of Trustees settled for a former Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Coomassie and Air Vice Marshal Mukhtar Mohammed (rtd) for those two positions respectively.
â€œThe North-Central, to which was assigned the portfolio of Secretary-General, is believed to have settled for Col. John P. Ubah (rtd), while the North-East is believed to have succeeded in prevailing on the reluctant Adamu Fika, a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, to accept to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.â€
The source said Fika fought very hard to resist but in the end, he was prevailed upon to serve.
â€œHaving had their hopes of taking over the ACF dashed, the presidency which harbored the morbid fear that the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar was behind the effort to thwart its moves, pulled out Tanko Yakasai and gave him the assignment of setting up the Northern Elders Council, which he proclaimed two week ago,â€ the source said.
THISDAY also learnt that another thing that counted against Yakassai was the fact that Vice-President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, who is considered weak in the North-west, his geopolitical zone, is the arrowhead and financier of NEC.
Since its establishment, NEC led by Yakassai, has not hidden its support for Jonathan to contest the 2015 presidential election, with Sambo as his running mate.
But his position has brought him at loggerheads with ACF and the Northern Eldersâ€™ Forum (NEF), which have both pushed for power to return to the North.
When contacted to react to the revelation that it was Sambo who has been sponsoring the newly formed NEC, Yakassai did not deny nor confirm the disclosure, saying, â€œWhen Atiku was the vice president, he provided the funds for ACF.
â€œMaitama Sule and I are the oldest members of ACF. Atiku in the early stages of ACF, funded a rally that took place at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna.
â€œSo, if Namadi Sambo is prepared to support our group, we will be glad to welcome and receive his support, because he would be following in the footsteps of Atiku when he was vice president. He provided the inspirational support to ACF through Lawal Kaita,â€ Yakasai said.
He added: â€œIf Atiku could do it when he was vice-president, what stops Namadi Sambo from doing likewise.â€
Also, the 2015 presidential election may have sown the seed of discord within the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as the North-east chapter of the association has thrown its weight behind the defection of Atiku to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
This is coming against the blanket support of Jonathan by the President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
Commenting on their decision to back Atiku, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the North-east chapter of CAN, Mr. Jonathan A. Sambo, said Atiku â€œhas the credentials and genuine commitment to foster the unity of Nigeria as a wholeâ€.
He also observed that Atiku â€œis remarkably different from other political jingoists seeking power in Nigeria.â€
The spokesman said: â€œWe need a liberal leader who will carry everybody along, irrespective of his region, ethnicity or religion,â€ adding that such is the kind of leader Nigeria urgently needs to overcome her challenges.
Commenting on Nigeriaâ€™s situation, the PRO explained that Nigeria â€œneeds a leader who will salvage us from the manacles of unemployment and the shackles of inadequate electricityâ€.
He stressed that until Nigeria has such a leader like Atiku, the country would continue to wallow in abject poverty.
He said zonal chapter of CAN welcomed Atikuâ€™s defection to APC as a means to offer him the opportunity to serve Nigeria.
But it was gathered that one of the reasons Oritsejafor was allowed a second-term is to enable him mobilise support for Jonathanâ€™s second term bid for the presidency.
With the open declaration by the North-east CAN supporting the defection of Atiku and by implications his contest for the APC presidential ticket, this has divided the Christians body over who to support.