Babangida Aliyu: North Refused to Back Jonathan for Reneging on One Term Promise

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.Abubakar challenges journalists to chronicle events

By Tobi Soniyi and Segun James

A former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu has said that the North opposed former president Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid in 2015 because he reneged on his promise to govern for only one term of four years. 

The former governor, who was then the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum made the revelation in the new book by the Chairman of the ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi titled: “Against The Run of Play.”

Also yesterday, during the formal presentation of the book in Lagos, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar challenged Nigerian journalists to chronicle events of recent history in books for posterity, adding that he still has faith in the Nigerian Project.

In the book, Aliyu said: “If Jonathan had been clever enough to say he would not run and had stuck with the Peoples Democratic Party’s zoning formula by supporting a young northern candidate, I am almost certain Buhari would have shed his ambition to contest in 2015 knowing there was no way he would win.”

The author of the book had noted that one major issue of contention that rocked the PDP leading up to the election was that by seeking a second term, Jonathan was reneging on his much-talked about pledge to spend only one time in office.

In the same book, Jonathan disagreed, saying that he was misquoted. He said that his pledge to stand election for only one time was based on the suggestion that if the constitution was amended to make for president to spend seven years in office.

However, the former president did also not see any wrong in reneging on this pledge. He was quoted in the book as saying: “In any case, you can make a political promise and change your mind so long as it is within the law.”

The former Niger State governor said that with suspicion mounting that Jonathan was contemplating changing his mind on the one-term deal, PDP governors held meetings with him individually and as a group.

 He said: “As chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, I recalled having to remind him of the commitment he made to us in 2010 before we supported his bid to contest. I know that other governors were also meeting him while a few were seeing themselves as potential candidates.

“In one of my meetings with him, I suggested he could even choose any credible PDP man he wanted from the North and such a person did not have to be among the governors. One day, he would agree to the idea, on another day he would say something else.”

‘Chronicle of History of Our Recent Past’

Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar  (rtd) during the unveiling of the book, said that he would rather a Nigerian author write the book than a foreigner, “who might not understand intricacies behind the events.”

He therefore urged Nigerian journalist to start chronicling events of our recent history.

He said it was the duty of the Nigerian journalist to stimulate a robust discourse of contemporary Nigerian history which would be of great benefit for the future, while also urging journalists to dig deeper to unfold issues surrounding the kidnap of the Chibok girls and the Boko Haram.

He stated that the book, since it was unveiled, had generated a lot of discourse both on the internet and the general public; and also on the political stage, adding that such is necessary to put contemporary Nigerian history on the front burner.

“Segun chose an important subject in Nigerian history. The events around the 2015 election are a defining moment in the history of Nigeria; it is worth the time spent on it.”

The former Head of State enjoined journalists not to limit themselves to just writing reports, but to write books that will tell the Nigerian story.

Earlier, the author had confessed that he didn’t set out to generate controversy or anticipated that this book would generate the kind of excitement seen in recent days.

“For instance, I woke up yesterday morning to discover that people were already buying the book, having announced in my column that it would only be on sale from today. And it has been trending ever since. But let me also use the opportunity to answer a question.

“The idea for this book germinated when, in the course of my Fellow’s programme at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (during the 2010/2011 academic session) I decided to research into why it is difficult for incumbent presidents to lose elections in Africa. In the process, I discovered that competitive presidential elections held in sub-Saharan Africa in the preceding two decades resulted only in 4 per cent defeat and 96 percent victory for the incumbents.

“As it would happen, when I applied the same principle to the rest of the world, I found out that it is a global trend as incumbents were defeated at the polls only 7 per cent of the time, winning 93 per cent of the time.

 “The conclusion I could draw from that was that there was not much difference between Africa and the rest of the world with respect to “incumbency factor”. Having eliminated that as the main factor why elections are usually skewed against the opposition whenever incumbents were on the ballot, I tried other variables. Eventually, I was able to locate fractionalised opposition as the main factor.

Also speaking at the presentation, Chief Emeka Anyaoku said that the nation was indebted to Adeniyi for his painstaking effort to write on recent issues in the nation’s polity.

 “He is thorough, one of the few Nigerians blazing the trail about events of our contemporary history.”

Chief Cornelius Adebayo, who was like a father to Segun Adeniyi, said that he was not surprised by the achievements of Adeniyi while recalling that he started as writer during the second republic when he (Adebayo) was a governor of Kwara State.

“He started his career too early and that is why he has achieved so much. He was with me during the second republic from 1979 to 1983 and was in fact arrested along with my daughter during our days at NADECO. He was like a son to me; gentle with mild rascality.”

 The Managing Director of ThisDay, Eniola Bello commended Adeniyi who was editor of ThisDay after him for having the time to write books given the state of the environment of the country.

Though the book was devoted majorly to activities surrounding the event leading to the last general election and former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, his presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati would not be drawn to not making comments on the book.

He however took exception to the very many indicting words of the book reviewer Okey Okechukwu whom he said was on the media team of the former president and should have taken responsibility along with others for the misstatement of the past administration instead of castigating it in his review.

The book launch was attended by who is who in Nigerian politics and the media including Chief Cornelius Adebayo, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Mrs. Onari Duke who represented her husband, Donald, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, Eniola Bello, Managing Director ThisDay Newspapers; Kayode Komolafe, Deputy Managing Director, Thisday; Ms. Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, Editor, Thisday; Tunde Rahman, Special Adviser to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on Communication; Yinka Odumakin, spokesman, Afenifere; Dr. Chidi Amute; Ayo Arowolo; Keem Belo-Osagie; Dan Agbese; Soji Omotunde; Kunle Ajibade, Senator Tokunboh Afikunyomi; Dele Momodu and Dr. Reuben Abati among others.