Monday, March 10, 2014

There’ll be violence if Jonathan seeks re-election –Bakare

Convener of Save Nigeria Group (GN), Tunde Bakare, has predicted that the Northern part of the country will erupt in violence if President Goodluck Jonathan decides to seek re-election for another four-year term in office.

But he added that the Niger Delta militants on their part would resume hostilities in the creeks and blow up oil installations if on the other hand the President decides not to contest and the Northerners return to power.

Bakare, Pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly and running mate to the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Presidential candidate in the 2011 general elections, Muhammadu Buhari, believes that the only viable solution to the possible impasse is for Nigerians to go to the Federal Government’s planned National Conference and “save ourselves of major unprecedented rage”.

He spoke in Lagos at the weekend during an interview with Daily Independent.

On whether the latest rise in terrorist activities in some North East states could be linked to plans by some elements to frustrate the conference, he said Nigerians in their majority must come together and ensure the success of the conference.

He expressed the belief that the conference will proffer a lasting solution to the country’s problems and give hope to Nigerians.

“Anyone can plan evil. But if the majority is still willing and working for this country to move on, we will overcome them. Darkness does not have power to overcome light.

“And don’t let us begin to assume that the increase in tempo of the attacks by Boko Haram is against the national conference. How about the election itself?

“That is why we say let us go to the conference to save ourselves of major unprecedented rage. Because the way it is right now, if President Jonathan decides tomorrow and say ‘I am going to run for election’, the North will boil. If he wins, it is the same, because North has been outside power equation for a long time now.

“Eight years of Obasanjo, four years of Jonathan and in-between, they are just sandwiched two years of late Umaru Yar’Adua.

“So, that could be part of the reason. Especially when the people in the North are feeling deprived and they don’t even know where to direct the attacks. And if Jonathan says ‘I am not contesting’ and the North wins, the boys in the creeks are going to blow all your oil wells. Head they win, tail, you lose,” Bakare noted.

He added: “So, whichever way, we are in trouble. The best solution right now that I can see is that let us go to the conference and let us critically examine these issues and see God helping us if we can rise from the table of brotherhood, proffer solution to Nigeria’s problems and give a better hope to our people. Hope beyond the scope of human limitations”.

Reacting to claims in some quarters that the state of emergency declaration in  Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by the President has failed to achieve its desired purpose, giving the latest rise in activities of the Boko Haram sect, Bakare said Jonathan should be commended for taking the bold step, adding that the declaration has greatly reduced the level of destruction in the affected areas.

He also blamed traditional areas in the affected areas for not doing much to identify the terrorists, saying it is high time Nigerians spoke in unison and collaborate with the authorities to rein in the activities of the sect.

“If the emergency declaration has not achieved its desired result, it has tempered the gruesome violence you have seen. It could have been worse.

“Imagine what could have happened if there is no state of emergency there. The Governor will flee, his cabinet will scatter and the people will flee in different directions.

“So, let us give credit where it is due. Are we seeing what we expect to see? Not yet uhuru, but let us continue and let us all work together.

“We should not just blame Mr. President. There are traditional rulers in those domains. Are you telling me they don’t know those operating?

‘Don’t those people buy food? Don’t they go to the market? Don’t they live with people? Don’t they have wives and children? Even if they have isolated themselves, they will still have to go to the market to buy things.

“So, what is going on is more than what any one individual can resolve. I think all hands must be on deck. Traditional rulers and everyone who can influence society must do all they can to bring an end to this evil called Boko Haram,” he said.

And as if to confirm Bakare’s fears, South South chiefs, elders and leaders who met in Abuja on Sunday warned that, “It is mandatory, and not negotiable, for President Goodluck Jonathan to get a second term in office come 2015”.

The meeting also challenged the leaders and elders in the North to stop blaming Jonathan for the festering Boko Haram attacks, but that they themselves (Northern leaders) should find a means of bringing the Boko Haram members to their senses just the way South South leaders curbed the excesses of the Niger Delta militants.

The event was the 2014 induction/inauguration of the board of Trustees (BoT) of the South-South elders, chiefs and leaders.

Speaking at the event, Ijaw leader, Edwin Clark, insisted that the rule of natural justice demands that the North supports the second term ambition of Jonathan as the South South had in the past shown loyalty to the North by giving total support to former President Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic.

He noted that the North should not blame anyone for the inability of Shagari to complete his terms, as his second term in office was truncated by a Northerner, Muhammadu Buhari, through a military coup.

Expressing the desire to ensuring that the agenda to re-install Jonathan in 2015 becomes a reality, the South-South leaders, elders and chiefs mandated its BoT headed by former Inspector General (IG) of Police, Mike Okiro, to drive the process of mobilising support for the President in synergy with the executive committee of the South-community.

Clark, who is the grand patron of South-South group, said in Nigeria no community is superior to the other, adding that Abuja, which was developed by the South-South money, does not belong to anybody.

He also took former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the cleaners, saying the former President, described as one of the richest men in Nigeria today, only had N20,000 in his account when he was released from Yola Prisons to contest the 1999 general elections, but that “he’s pretending to be innocent today”.

“I think one of the problems facing us in this country is the issue of settler and indigene. In this country nobody is superior to the other.

“Abuja does not belong to anybody, it belongs to all of us. The money used to develop Abuja came from South-South. Because we are Nigerians, we accepted.

“Nobody owns it more than the other. Anybody is entitled to contest for any election in Abuja. Nobody owns this place.

“The problem with the militants started in 1998. Somebody invited the South-South youths to Abuja and they saw bridges built on land whereas in their waters there are no bridges. They went back and started the militancy.

“Don’t exclude us from the scheme of things, Nigeria belongs to all of us, don’t practice double standard.

“In 1983 we voted en mass for Shagari and he stayed for eight years, it was Buhari who removed him.

“In 1999, they said because of what they did to (Moshood) Abiola, they said they should compensate the South West and Obasanjo was brought out from Yola Prisons and he was only having N20,000 in his account and today he is one of the richest men in Nigeria. And today he is claiming to be innocent.

“We cannot continue to feed this country and we are not ruling the country. When Obasanjo wanted Yar’Adua to become the President he blackmailed everybody.

“Many of the Northerners came to me to say that Jonathan should step down and allow the North to finish their four year-term and I told them you are not well.

“People thought that we from South-South are second class citizens and we say no. When we reply critics, they say we are enemies of Jonathan,” Clark said.

On the issue of security, former Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, Felix Oguado, called on the Northern elders to copy from South-South elders, how they were able to convince the militants in the Niger Delta to drop their arms.

“If the elders in the Niger Delta can go to the creek and speak to the militants and they drop their arms, why can’t the elders of the North do same?

“We should stop blaming the government and do something. It is not the best to apportion blame on the government each time something happened. People talk of sharing the cake, but they never talk of how the cake is baked.

“Our foremost challenge now is Boko Haram. Nigeria is a difficult country to govern. No matter who rules there will always be criticism.

“Like the President said, you cannot dialogue with faceless people. The militants were brought to Abuja and they met with President Yar’Adua,” Oguado said.

Coordinator of the group and Chairman Planning Committee, Bello Premier, called for the integration of South-South community in Abuja into the mainstream of social political dynamics of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to accord it appropriate recognition as is the case of other regional group.

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