Posted by News Express | 16 March 2015 | 4,375 times
Former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa penultimate Saturday mobilised about 10,000 northerners who represented about 10 million northerners living in the 17 states of Southern Nigeria on the banner of the Arewa Initiative for Peaceful Co-existence in Southern Nigeria (AIPCN) to Asaba, the Delta State Capital to endorse President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election. In this interview, he spoke on why he initiated the move, why non-indigenes must be accommodated and why northerners will back Jonathan’s re-election.
By Clifford Ndujihe
Why did you initiate the Arewa Initiative for Peaceful Co-existence in Southern Nigeria (AIPCN)?
It is a registered foundation. It is important because of the way our people in the South found themselves. Also southerners in the North find themselves in the same problem. We have almost 10 million northerners residing in the17 southern states. Some of them were born here and even their parents were born here. They were brought up here. They cannot go back to the North because this is their home base. Unfortunately, they have no place they can call their own. They are always non-indigenes. They are not benefiting anything from their indigenous state and here people see them as non-indigenes. As far as these people are concerned, they don’t have anywhere in the North to stay. Some of them who were born in the South-West speak Yoruba language such that you cannot differentiate them from the Yoruba. So also some who were born in the South-East speak Igbo. Unfortunately, getting admission into government schools is difficult. They are not getting any patronage from the states they are residing and they are Nigerians.
Development and sensitation
If they come together, at least if there is any problem you can talk to the leadership. During election period you see people being killed in the North and in the South because there is no leadership. That was the reason we decided to come up with this initiative for peace, development and sensitisation of our people so that they can fight and get their rights. Now, we are going for election, everybody is trying to become governor, senator, member of the House of Representatives or state assembly. You were born here but there is no how you can vie for elective positions because they see us as non-indigenes. This motivated me to form the association so that we can integrate them where they were born.
Is AIPCN’s endorsement of Jonathan part of the moves to integrate them in the South?
We are using the organisation to support President Jonathan, and we also use it to support the people, so it’s give and take. There is nothing wrong for me to ask the people to support President Jonathan so that when he is voted into power in 2015, he can start solving the people’s grievances.
On how to sustain the initiative and the relationship between him and people in the South
After this election, we will start going from one local government to the other across the states where our people are so that we can sit down with the leaders who are going to contest in this election. Not only Jonathan, anybody who is contesting election on the PDP platform in a state where our people are residing will be given support. So, it is not a question of doing an endorsement or launching and dispersing tomorrow. This is the beginning of bringing Nigeria together. Since independence, this initiative has never arisen. It’s just now we said, in order to keep this country as one, everybody should be given an opportunity anywhere they find themselves. So, it’s not a matter of party affiliation. We also expect the All Progressives Congress (APC) to do the same thing. This is our initiative to bring people together. This association has been in existence for seven months now. It will continue to grow after the election and even when we the founding fathers must have died. This association is going to register members, with their dues and whatever they contribute will be used to build the initiative.
What about southerners living in the North?
I am also thinking about what the southerners are facing in the North. The problem we have in this country is that most Nigerian politicians are not professional politicians.
Politicians are meant to work for the people, but nowadays, Nigerian politicians just occupy political offices for the sake of it. They are just there to seek for political offices. But we who are professional politicians, who take politics as our profession don’t think of positions, we care about the people. That is why you have not seen me fighting to be a governor or a senator. I try to make sure I work for the people, and that is why we created this movement. Nothing will stop us from forming this association in the North but we need your collaboration to merge and give every Nigerian equal rights.
On chances of the PDP at the presidential polls given the APC challenge
By God’s grace we are expecting victory in the March 28 presidential election. I see APC as a situation where you mix a bucket of water and detergent. There will be a bubble but after some minutes, the bubble goes down. That is how I see the APC when compared to the PDP.
On why the northern association endorsed Jonathan
For whatever reason, we must give President Jonathan a passmark these four years he has been in-charge. He inherited a broken country enmeshed in insecurity and he is has been able to manage the country to be united. We have to give him the necessary support to ensure he continues to bring sanity to the system.
Therefore, our reason to support Jonathan is not to give him support in person, but to give the nation a support. He has started, so, let us encourage him. By the time you disengage him and you bring a new comer, he starts all over again. Continuity is very important here. Let us not be carried away by this change mantra. There is a very big difference between digital and analogue. There is no way you can say someone who has been absent from governance in the last 26 years will do magic. Jonathan’s experience as a deputy governor, governor, vice president and president is huge. If given another four years, there is no doubt that he will perform better and make a lot of difference.
Do you think Jonathan will make it in the North?
All the people saying Jonathan doesn’t have support in the North are not been fair to northerners. The APC are more in the papers than on ground. Go to the North and meet the average northerner on the street to know their pulse about Jonathan.
If you want to know whether Jonathan is actually on ground, go to the different northern states to do some personal assessments. In every northern state, there is no where he hasn’t contributed to the development of the state. So, what is the reason to say northerners don’t like Jonathan? We like Jonathan and we are promising him total support during the elections. Jonathan is not a southern candidate, he is a national candidate. So, we have to put our house together to support him. When APC is talking about fighting corruption, I just wonder and laugh. The party itself is corrupt. I want to ask, where do they get the money to fund their party? It seems they are getting their money from the contributions of the state governors controlled by APC states. Using state governments’ money for hiring jets for their candidate who claim not be be corrupt, raises a lot of questions.The PDP is a ruling party. Therefore, it is a party that won’t be talking about party interest but the interest of the nation. One, the interest will be keeping the party and keeping the government at the same time.
•Culled from Vanguard. Photo shows Bafarawa.
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