Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, NPFL member
A staunch opponent of President Goodluck Jonathan’s candidacy in this Saturday’s presidential election and member of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPFL), Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, Tuesday made a u-turn and asked Nigerians to vote for Jonathan.
The repentant Yakassai, who was a special adviser to former President Shehu Shaghari in the Second Republic, also appealed to the electorate to shun ethnic and religious considerations while casting their votes for the president.
He spoke when some influential Northern leaders led by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba, paid the president a courtesy visit and to congratulate him on the success of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in last Saturday’s National Assembly elections.
He noted that the results showed that Nigerians voted for individuals who have the ability to deliver.
He said an analysis of last week’s elections showed that voters shunned ethnicity and religious sentiments and voted for those who could change their lives and asked them to continue with the voting pattern and return Jonathan to power as all would be the better for it.
“From the results, it is clear that Nigerians voted individuals and not the parties regardless of their religious affiliation and ethnic background. I appeal to Nigerians to continue to do that so that we can build a great nation.
“One thing I always observe is, if you go to the market, you find Hausas, Ibos, Yorubas and other ethnic groups interacting together. They never had a fight in any market in Nigeria on religious or ethnic basis. The common man in Nigeria is tolerant, if you find trouble along religious and ethnic lines, it is something organised from outside, not by the people.”
According to him, Jonathan had already started by demonstrating sterling leadership qualities by refusing to manipulate elections which led to the credibility of the exercise and signposts what he was willing to do in future to put the nation back on track.
He also had kind words for the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jegga, for showing leadership and ensuring that the image of Nigeria was redeemed through conducting credible elections last Saturday.
“I am highly delighted at the outcome of the elections; it shows Nigerians can do what many people may not believe that Nigerians are capable of doing. We give our gratitude and appreciation to INEC under the leadership of Prof. Jega. Also, we appreciate the attitude of Mr. President because without his cooperation, we will not have free and fair elections,” Yakassai said.
Also speaking, leader of the team, N’Abba, observed that the manner and result of last Saturday’s elections was a proof that Nigerians could live peacefully together, adding that, “The unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable; the people of Nigeria have shown that they can live together..
He praised Jonathan for demonstrating a commitment to keep democracy working in this country, even as a candidate, noting that, “Hitherto votes never counted, now they do count and I believe this will go a long way in changing the psychology of Nigerians about democracy.”
He counselled politicians to accept defeat when the outcome was not favourable to them as “in all elections, we will win some and lose some”, and predicted that, “on the balance, our party is leading and on Saturday, we expect that President Jonathan will win the presidential election”.