JONAH Jang, governor, Plateau State, believes that the Middle Belt region has the numerical strength and influence to determine the next president of Nigeria in the 2015 elections. He has also identified the strategic and visionary role which the Middle Belt zone had played prior to the country’s independence, during the civil war, as well as in the current democratic sojourn, affirming that the sacrifice and service of the region for the survival of the Nigerian nation was unquestionable.
Jang made the remarks while declaring open the fourth Middle Belt Leaders Conference tagged: “Strategic Partnership for the National Conference,” held at the Eliel Centre, Jos, on Thursday February 13. Jang, however, lamented that in spite of the laudable role played by the region in fostering the unity of the country, the Middle Belt had not produced a president for the country. “When President Goodluck Jonathan finishes his tenure in 2019 the Middle Belt should work hard and be supported to take over the presidency,” he said.
The governor said despite the intrigues going on, nobody would stop Jonathan from becoming president in 2015. He said the minority ethnic groups in the country had suffered intense marginalisation on both ethnic and religious grounds and that the situation ought to change. “No one thought that a minority from the South-south will ever become a president of this nation. And now that God has anointed Jonathan, some people are saying that he should not contest in 2015. That is not possible,” he said.
Jang, therefore, urged the region to be united and have a coordinated voice in charting a new course for Nigeria during the national dialogue, adding : “I can tell the whole world one thing; we love Nigeria and have a heart of peace towards all, and as such, cannot negotiate the unity of Nigeria. We know the pains and sacrifices in our journey to nationhood. Though our land has been under attack, we remain committed to the peace and progress of Nigeria, and we mean no evil towards anybody. This is the heart that the Middle-Belt submits to the national dialogue and will guide its presentation.”
Dangers Ahead of 2015 Elections
IKE Ekweremadu, deputy president of the Senate, is worried about the political trend in the country. On Thursday, February 13, Ekweremadu, therefore, warned of the danger to democracy in Nigeria as a result of agitations by politicians and their supporters ahead of the 2015 elections. According to him, given the current situation, Nigeria now sits on a keg of gunpowder that could explode with the slightest ignition. Ekweremadu gave his thought while delivering a lecture, ‘Succession Challenges in Nigeria: Political and Constitutional Solutions,’ organised by the Catholic Secretariat, Abuja. The senator accused the ruling class of pursuing personal ambitions at the expense of national interest.
He said because of the 2015 elections, “we (senators) have turned ourselves into a theatre; that is the drama of 2015. I assumed that after the elections, we won’t see such a drama again.”
He said all the agitations by various interest groups to secure advantage over their political opponents ahead of the 2015 polls, had put Nigeria at a constitutional and political crossroads! “The preparations for succession to power at the federal and state executive levels in the country in 2015 are not only overheating the polity, but also threatening to divide families and the nation along her fault lines in an unprecedented manner,” he said. The senator said the real threats were the pronouncement of various factions and interest groups threatening chaos and confusion in pursuit of their parochial interests at the expense of Nigeria’s unity and progress. “Never has there been a real, clear and imminent threat to the nation’s unity and democracy since 1999 as is being witnessed ahead of the forthcoming general election,” Ekweremadu said.
I didn’t Kill Bola Ige, Ministerial Nominee
IT WAS a pitiful and emotional sight as Adbuljelili Oyewale Adesiyan, a ministerial nominee, laboriously tried to clear himself of any complicity in the assassination of Bola Ige, former attorney general and minister of justice, on December 23, 2001. Adesiyan, who appeared before the Senate on Thursday, February 13, had been asked to make personal explanation on some the things that were not in his curriculum vitae, when his eyes suddenly turned red, releasing a flood of tears. After thanking the Senate for the opportunity, the ministerial nominee said: “It may interest you, distinguished senators, to know that I am one of those wrongly accused of having a hand in the death of my mentor, Chief Bola Ige. It was all political blackmail because I knew nothing about the death of Chief Ige. I was detained for three and half years for something I knew nothing about. I stand here to say that I knew nothing about the death of Chief Bola Ige.”
Adesiyan then went to describe the late Ige as his political mentor whom he had no reason whatsoever to kill. There was sustained murmuring in the chamber as Adesiyan appeared to be emotional in his conduct.
After being recognised to speak, Ehigie Uzamere, a senator from Edo South, said: “Mr. nominee, you mentioned in the course of your speech the death of Chief Bola Ige. Can you swear by the Quran that you do not know anything about the death of Bola Ige?” He answered: “I did not kill Chief Bola Ige,” and started sobbing. Some senators protested and shouted that the Senate chamber should not be turned to a place of worship or a shrine. Others said that there was no Quran in the chamber.
But Uzamere was not intimidated by the protest of some of his colleagues as he insisted that he must answer his question correctly. “The question I want you to answer is did you kill Bola Ige? Did you have anything to do with the death of Bola Ige? If the Holy Quran is not here as some senators said, I want to ask you, did you kill Bola Ige. What do you know about the death of Bola Ige?” As protest continued in the chamber, Uzamere insisted that Adesiyan should answer the questions.
David Mark, Senate president, then intervened and asked Adesiyan to respond. Adesiyan said: “I thank Senator Uzamere for his questions. I do not know whether I can be availed with a copy of the Holy Quran. But I maintain and say that I did not kill Chief Bola Ige. I did not have any reason to kill Chief Bola Ige, but I was wrongly fingered to have killed him. Chief Bola Ige sent me to United States for education; he was my mentor. I am saying it today if Chief Bola Ige gave money to anybody, it is my family and I.
“The reason I was fingered was because as Assistant Secretary of the AD (Alliance for Democracy), I changed to the PDP. Because of that, I was fingered and punished as having something to do with the assassination of Chief Bola Ige,” he said. Adesiyan said it was a political blackmail by his opponents.
— Feb. 24, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT