North should forget presidency- Major Umar

THE SUN Newspaper- Ismail Omipidan

Retired Army Major and Secretary, Council of Ulamas, Abubakar Umar, has called on the North to forget about 2011 Presidency. He argued with President Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s woeful performance in office, the North has blown its chances of retaining the coveted seat beyond 2011.

Speaking in exclusive interview with Daily Sun in Kaduna, the Kano- born Kaduna-based public affairs commentator, who also described power shift as a process of imposing leadership on this country by a tiny clique said; From my assessment of those who have put themselves forward, I feel Yar’Adua should, if God wills, finish his first term, and allow the Presidency to go to somebody from the southern part of the country. May be from the South-Eastern part.

“But from the present crop of leadership in the North, I have not seen that person who can rule successfully again. We have track records of IBB, Abdulsalami, Aliyu Gusau, Abacha and Buhari and none of them excelled.”
He also spoke on other issues of national interests.

The North and the current crisis of leadership
Those angling to be Vice President from the North are only putting the cart before the horse. We should not create a situation of insecurity in this country.

Aliyu Gusau was a Security Adviser in this country. He served former President Olusegun Obasanjo before he was booted out of office. He contested the Presidency against Yar’Adua but lost.

So everyone would want to see his latest scheming as trying to get even with Yar’Adua. Certainly those close to Yar’Adua would not allow it.
Babangida, Buhari, Obasanjo and Abdulsalami are all behind the current move to unseat Yar’Adua.

You must understand that Buhari contested for the Presidency three times and failed. He was very bitter, especially against Yar’Adua. He felt Yar’Adua was not only unfit but also incompetent to rule this country. This the grudge Buhari has against him.

This is largely because one, he like Yar’Adua is from Katsina State. He was sidelined by the Katsina people themselves, by supporting Yar’Adua against him, and, he also felt Obasanjo did Yar’Adua a favour.

Yar’Adua’s senior (late Shehu Musa) was a classmate of Buhari. So Buhari sees the favour done the President as a slight on him, he is very bitter. In fact, till date, the wife of Shehu Musa Yar’Adua is not even pleased with Buhari because even when the husband was in prison in Abakaliki, Buhari never visited her. After Shehu’s death, till today, Buhari never went to that house. So there is some kind of enmity between the Buhari camp and the Yar’Adua camp.

What could have been responsible for it?

I think it is just a competition among classmates. One excelling more than the other, so that is what I feel happened.

So who has the upper hand?

Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, of course.
But he was never Head of State, but Buhari was
Yes, he was never Head of State, but he was the one who appointed Buhari as Minister of Petroleum. Before then, he was a nobody, nobody knew him.

What are the options before the North ahead of 2011?

Well, we have blown our chances at the Presidency, especially from the performance of Yar’Adua. Those that have been put forward in the past, to represent the North, including Yar’Adua, have been a total failure. Those who are currently agitating to represent the North have no any enviable past records.

Personally, I feel from my assessment of those who have put themselves forward, I feel Yar’Adua should, if God wills, finish his first term in office, and allow the presidency to go to somebody from the southern part of the country, may be from the South-eastern part.

But from the present crop of leadership in the North, I have not seen that person who can rule successfully again. We have track records of IBB, Abdul salami, Aliyu Gusau, Abacha and Buhari. None of them excelled.

Buhari is seen as a clean man, so how can you ….

(Cuts in) Well, the fact is that what is happening to Buhari is a case of an untested Presidency in a democratic system. He ruled with iron fist under the military and his tenure was short-lived. Even at that, we saw what happened under his regime. Secondly, don’t forget also that Buhari was part of the Abacha administration.

What is your take on power shift?

From a democratic point of view, we can see that power shift is not a selection of leadership by the people but the imposition of leadership by a certain interest group in Nigeria.

If we insist on power shift, we will be going back to the ’60s where the Prime Minister came from the North, and we had a ceremonial President from the South. I don’t think that arrangement, just like the present one was in the interest of this country.

That was what led to the coup, because one part of the country was dominating the other. Now what happens, and when will that happen, if the rotation of the Presidency starts with one powerful political party that is firmly entrenched in a particular state, it means that state would rule for a two term tenure, and before it goes back to the very impoverished state that is not in support of that powerful political party, then, it means it will take a long time.

Besides, with the instability and uncertain attitudes of our politicians, it means the Constitution can be changed to suit their particular interest at any point in time.
Don’t forget that oil is the prime factor that is keeping us together in this country today.

What if the Presidency goes to the Niger Delta area?
These people have been agitating for resource control.They have been agitating that the headquarters of NNPC should be moved out of Abuja and Lagos to their area. What happens, if they have full control of the resources of this country? Are we sure that the Presidency would be allowed to rotate to another area in this country?

I feel this is a wasted effort and should not even arise. It is a selfish principle. Nigerians should be allowed to select their leaders, irrespective of where those leaders come from, that way, we would get the best.

Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the North’s interest
To me, ACF is just an Almajiri group, a group that is selfishly interested in themselves alone.

These are people that have failed in successive governments in this country. They have decided to unite under that umbrella, they call ACF. They sit down and decide with the emirs in the north, and how the powers can be shared within themselves in the north, those who are members of that forum. If you are not a part of the ACF, the group will never put you forward to represent any interest in the North.

Not only that, we have seen also that the ACF has a religious undertone. This is so because 99 percent of those that are there are from the Muslim north. I don’t think they’re firmly entrenched in defending the interest of the minorities in the North.

What about the Dr. Sola Saraki-led Northern Union (NU)?

The Northern Union (NU), founded by Umar Dikko and Olusola Saraki, were established because they wanted to challenge the ACF. They lost out in the ACF, and so decided to form an opposition group against it, trying to wrest power from the majority North to the minority North, this is exactly what is happening.

If you look at the composition of the NU, it is made up of largely the minority North, trying to take over the mantle of leadership in the North, because their interest has not been adequately represented and protected by the ACF, and the emirs in the region.

In all of these, what is the way forward for the region?

The way forward for the North is to re-examine itself. To look at how Sardauna ruled, as an astute leader, revive the Economy in the North, and make it self sustaining, before thinking of offering quality, responsive and responsible leadership at the national level.

We have seen that the North is in disarray, nothing is surviving in the North today.
What Sardauna planted in the North has been destroyed by the present crop of leadership, how can we expect a leadership, which cannot even hold the North together, develop the North, go to rule Nigeria? What they are interested in is the oil in the southern part of this country, nothing more. Development of this country is not in their agenda, they are only interested in developing themselves, pure and simple.

You’re a Northerner; but you hardly speak like a typical northerner. What is the problem?

I speak against the ills in the society because I don’t like the injustice. I am not happy seeing school age children in the North begging on the street as Almajiris. I am not happy seeing sycophants and praise singers around the streets every now and then.

Our leaders do nothing than to steal our money and use this money to fight us by instigating crisis in the name of religion and to retard our growth.

If you look at it, their children are in Harvard, in London abroad. They are not schooling in this country. They have the best houses, the best cars. This money is not even coming from their own states of origin. This money is coming from the Niger Delta area. We are depriving these people of their livelihood and using this money to tour abroad.
If they had used this money to develop our country, I will not be worried


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