May 30, 2015

How North sent Jonathan back to Otuoke – Coomasie

President Jonathan

Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmad Coomasie, a former Inspector General of Police, is also the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).

In this interview, he narrates the story of the return of power to the North and the role his group, among others, played in stopping President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid, thereby sending him from the Presidential Villa back to his Bayelsa village, Otuoke.

Coomasie faults the sacking of the immediate past IGP, Suleiman Abba. He also speaks on how former President Olusegun Obasanjo imposed a ‘terminally ill’ Umaru Yar’Adua as president against advice.By Bilesanmi Olalekan

You predicted last November that the presidency was returning to the North via the general elections of 2015. What did you see that we didn’t see at that time?

There was nothing I saw that you didn’t see. I only gave you the analysis of events in the region. I never made any prediction. I told you then of the agreement in 1998 that brought in(General Olusegun) Obasanjo to power. The agreement was that it would be eight years each between the South and the North. After the eight years of Obasanjo administration, he wanted to stop the presidency from returning to the North.

And that is why he wanted another term that we all now know to be third term. And all hands were on deck to checkmate him. And you knew what he did after his failed attempt to get a third term to get another northerner to succeed him. Some of us believe that he didn’t want a northerner to take over from him. That was why he did what he did. We mentioned names of possible people being touted at that time to succeed him in the interviews I granted at that time, I don’t need to start mentioning the names again. But eventually they got someone who was ill, his illness was terminal, and he was pushed hard during the campaign, collapsed in Abuja, is it not so?

And he was rushed to Germany. Even while in Germany, Obasanjo called him and was asking, ‘Umoru, are you dead?’ But he survived it. He returned home, won the election. Two years into his tenure, nature took its course. Going by the constitution, if for whatever reason the president is not able to perform his function or he is removed, his deputy would take over. There were no qualms about it. Jonathan took over and he was sworn in immediately.

He completed the first tenure which was supposed to be a northern tenure. And then later, he said he wanted to continue. Some of us said it and it was widely reported. I said he should be magnanimous to say ‘okay, the first tenure is finished, another northerner, come and complete the second term’. But, he didn’t. I, even said if he had, he could have been a hero. But he didn’t, he said he wanted second term and won. He completed the second term, making two terms. Then, suddenly, he said he wanted to run for another term. The constitution provided for four years of two terms. He was part of the first term.

But he was just part…

(Cuts in) Let us leave that to legal interpretation. Would he do ten years or would he, if he had won, terminate his tenure midway and give out the remaining two years to the North?. I also told you that the purpose of government is security and welfare of the people. I said since this out- going administration took over government, there has been escalation of insurgency in the country especially in the North- East. Thousands of people have been killed and property destroyed. Schools destroyed. Chibok students were kidnapped and, up till today, we are yet to see them.

They have not been returned to their parents. And because of that, we (ACF) said this government has failed in providing security. These two reasons (for insecurity and the agitation that power should return to the North) compelled us and we met, all northern NGOs, and resolved that this time around, we had to struggle to get the leadership back to the North, especially because our people were being killed just because the person in the saddle could not be able to do anything. This was what happened. So, it is not a prediction. It is just an analysis. And God, in His infinite mercy, listened to our prayers.

Everybody wanted change, throughout the country. At least, where elections were conducted properly, everybody was voting the opposition party. That was what it is. The interesting thing about it all was that when Buhari was going about his campaign, the difference was obviously clear between him and the other candidate. People wanted change, saying ‘enough is enough’. They wanted peace, development. Right now in Katsina, there is no power. I don’t put on my generator until the evening. And power is one source of sustaining small scale enterprises for individuals. With adequate and stable power, you could get loan from banks and start something and know that, in due course, you can repay the loan but when there is no power, how do you power the business to the point of making profit to repay the loan?

But however small the business may be, once there is power, everything will take shape. Security and welfare, that is the purpose of government. This government has failed. I keep on repeating it. Funny enough, when the election was set to hold in February, they said no, they would reschedule it for security reasons, even when the security agencies said they were ready until the last minute when they all chorused they were not ready for security reasons. It was postponed. But the people, rather than get agitated, remained calm, cool and collected until the six weeks elapsed. The election was held, and, behold, there was improvement in the security situation in the North-East. What does that tell you as a journalist? Why couldn’t they do it in six years and they did it in six weeks even when we had support from our neighbouring countries?