In the recent past, some northern leaders have reportedly held meetings to strategise on how to present a formidable northern consensus in the next presidential election.
Our correspondent gathered that none of the seven northern governors who had indicated interest in contesting for the presidency had shown any willingness to back down.
Governors who have their eyes on the position are Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State.
All the governors are of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to which President Goodluck Jonathan belongs. All of them are also in their second term in office.
Ex-governors Ahmed Makarfi and Ibrahim Shekarau of Kaduna and Kano states respectively, are also said to be interested in the race.
Our correspondent learnt that northern leaders, who had been planning to ensure that a northerner becomes the President in 2015, are worried by the rancour among the governors.
In the past one year, leaders of the North have met on different platforms, insisting on replacing President Jonathan with a northerner in 2015. The President has said he would wait till 2014 before declaring his intention.
SUNDAY PUNCH further gathered that at some of the meetings, the governors signified that they wanted to be President in 2015 — a situation that has made it almost impossible for a candidate to be chosen.
The Convener of the Coalition of Northern Leaders, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, confirmed that the North’s plan to present one candidate for 2015 had been thwarted by the individual ambitions of the Northern governors.
“As far as I know, we have not got to the point of zeroing in on a candidate, a political party or even a strategy. From the look of things, it is not likely to happen soon.
“This is because the last time we tried to get a consensus candidate for the North, it was the northern governors who scuttled the plan. About seven northern governors, who have ambition to become President, have been busy scuttling one another’s ambition. So, the North has not picked a candidate, and in my opinion, it will not happen soon.”
Mohammed also said the issue of a consensus candidate, among other things, was discussed at the two-day conference of northern leaders, which held last Wednesday and Thursday.
The conference, with the theme, ‘The North and strategies for sustainable development,’ was organised by the Ahmadu Bello University’s Arewa House Centre for Historical Documentation and Research. Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who was represented by the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Aliko Mohammed, said the North must come together to forge a common front for the region to enjoy political progress and development.
Apparently referring to the rancour among the governors, Mohammed said, “Unless we come together in the North, we will continue to have problems. I met with the Senate caucus in the North and I asked them to reconsider the introduction of an electoral college in electing the president.”
Also confirming the rivalry among the northern governors, the spokesman of the Northern Elder’s Forum, Dr. Paul Unongo, said most of the governors who had indicated interest in the position were qualified for the presidency but that the North needed to have a united house.
He said, “Lamido and Aliyu are eminently qualified to be President. But what they need to do now is to unite and rationalise to choose one person as the only northern candidate for the election. If not, if the South presents one candidate, the person would likely win.”
According to Unongo, the North will carefully choose a consensus candidate, based on the person’s ability to guarantee improved security and economic development of the region, as well as the country.
He noted that the potential candidate must also be acceptable to people in other regions of the country.
Unongo said, “When it comes to people from the North, who can stand for election for President, some persons like Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Abubakar Atiku are the names we can mention. But now, I don’t know how acceptable they will be to Nigerians. I don’t think Nigerians still want Army Generals.
“Another potential candidate is the Vice-President Namadi Sambo, who is the northerner in the highest office in the country. It would be a surprise to me if he does not stand for election in 2015. If he stands for election in 2015, some of us will support him.”
On May 17, the 19 northern governors had met in Kaduna and expressed a determination to sink their differences and unite to produce the President from the region in 2015.
The Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Governor Aliyu, who spoke on behalf of the group, said northern governors would not allow what happened in 2011 to repeat itself in 2015.
“We must be united more than ever to go into the 2015 elections as one entity with the aim of producing the president,” he said.
However, till date, the NGF has not endorsed any of its members to contest the election.