The seeming crack within the northern socio-cultural organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), came to the open Thursday, when the chairman of the forum, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, openly expressed disappointment with some of its members asking President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2015 election.
Besides, Mohammed alleged that the presidency was employing the ‘divide and rule’ tactics against the North ahead of the 2015 elections. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the forum, which was held at its secretariat in Kaduna Thursday,
Mohammed said it was sad that the presidency had employed the divisive tactics against the North.
He stated that it had, become very glaring that the Presidency was employing ‘divide and rule’ against the North “because we noticed with dismay that some members of this organisation had gone to the President and assured him that he must contest for 2015 election.”
According to him, “we are really surprised that some members went there are also members of ACF. I am speaking particularly of two gentlemen; the two gentlemen I am referring to, one is ACF member and the other is a member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF). The ACF member is retired General Lawrence Onoja. He was actually part of the group that went to see the President. Also, one of the elders, Senator John Wash Pam, was there.
“We were surprised that really they have gone to see the President, particularly Onoja who is our member in ACF.”
Onojo, who is from Benue State and Pam, a former Deputy Senate President in the Second Republic from Plateau State were said to be
among the middle Belt and South-south leaders, who recently visited President Jonathan and asked him to contest for re-election in 2015.
The ACF chairman noted that Onoja had been a committed member of the ACF, who had been very active in the activities of the forum and had facilitated the discussions the forum held with the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) with the ACF in Maiduguri.
“We went to Maiduguri together, when we went to see Dr. Ahmed Datti, Onoja was with us. He also made it possible for us when we went to Maiduguri to meet the leaders of the JTF and we had a long discussion till the early hours because the military had problem with the people and we think that if we intervene, things will be better.
“We have gone with Onoja to every meeting we have held, and for him to turn round to say the President must contest in 2015, using the word, “must” is very surprising…They went and told the whole world that the North is now divided…”
The ACF chairman also decried the crisis rocking the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF), maintaining that the forum would intervene to ensure that governors of the northern extraction work together as a
“I think it is very necessary now for ACF to really intervene in what is happening within the NSGF…two governors had already withdrawn. It
is something that we have to reconcile. “I come from Bauchi State, I feel really unhappy that my governor has
withdrawn from the NSGF,” he said.
He explained further that it was necessary for the North to come together for a common vision, goal and strategy, needed to negotiate
from the position of strength and secure a favourable camp ahead of the 2015 elections.
He disclosed that the ACF and the NEF were collating a list of all the groups in the North with a view to working for a common goal, stressing that a joint committee headed by Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie and Prof Ango Abdullahi, had been set up to identify all the northern groups.
Mohammed also advocated for all elections in 2015 to hold within one day in order to achieve free and fair election and to reduce cost.
“We have noticed that in order to have free and fair elections in 2015, we think that there should be only one election day. In Kenya, there was one day election for seven elections that is the presidency, Senate, House of Representatives, state Assemblies as well as local government. I can’t see any reason why Nigeria will not do that.
“We also feel that it is going to be cheaper, and all the security and other arrangements will be done same day. So if Kenya can do it, I see no reason why Nigeria cannot do it.
“I am of the view that we will pressure Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to really think about our view and hold elections on the same day,” Mohammed said.