Niger Delta, Northern leaders disagree over Jonathan's alleged 2015 ambition

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Mike Odiegwu

Notable groups in the Niger Delta region on Friday said they were ready for a showdown with northern leaders if the North continued to heat up the polity with “unfounded allegations and unreasonable demands.”

The groups responded to comments credited to the Coalition of Northern Leaders led by Dr. Junaid Mohammed, that the presidency was using the Justice Alfa Belgore Committee on Constitution Review to pursue tenure elongation.

The Ijaw National Congress, the umbrella body of the Ijaw nation, said although Jonathan had not declared his intention to remain in office beyond 2015, the constitution had given him the right to pursue a second term agenda.

The Chairman of the group, Chief Joshua Benamaisia, further asked the northern elite to stop the ongoing violence by the Boko Haram.

He noted that if the group continued to destabilise the first term of Jonathan’s office, he would seek a second tenure to enable him to realise his transformation agenda.

He said, “Nobody says Jonathan is not entitled to second tenure in office. I have not seen a governor neither have I seen a senator nor a president of Nigeria that has not gone for a second tenure.

“The only person that did not do a second tenure was the late Yar’Adua and that was because he died in office. Apart from that, Shagari did first and second tenure; Obasanjo did two tenures; so I don’t see why this one should be different. If he delivers, I will be the first person to call him to come and do a second tenure.”

Also, the Spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Congress, Mr. Jeremiah Owoupele, said youths of the Niger Delta were behind Jonathan in whatever decision he would take over the second term dispute.

He said, “If the people of Nigeria decide that they don’t want Jonathan, they will vote him out. So the position of the North requires a serious questioning. I am aware that the president has not formally told Nigerians of a second term; so the northerners are being ridiculous. Let us wait till the president says so.”

Similarly, the spokesperson to the Ijaw Republican Assembly, Ankio Briggs, described the position of the northern leaders on reported second term ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan as “self-serving and divisive.”

Briggs, a Niger Delta activist, cautioned the North against inflammatory statements that could destabilise the country.

“If the late President Umaru Yar’Adua had been alive to finish his first tenure, would the North say he should not go for a second tenure? These are the reasons why things have been put in place to make sure that Jonathan does not have the concentration he needs to govern Nigeria.”


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