The fight among the Northern elite over President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election is growing dirtier, with Tanko Yakassai, who leads the pro-Jonathan Northern Elders Council (NEC), dismissing as a “nuisance” a former Emir of Gwandu, Mustapha Jokolo.
In wide-ranging interview published by The Sun newspaper at the weekend, Jokolo, a former aide-de-camp to General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Peoples Congress, described Vice-President Namadi Sambo as a political liability to Mr. Jonathan, noting that he has now created Yakassai’s NEC.
“Now they have created Northern Elders Council,” Jokolo told his interviewer. “The Northern Elders Forum is supporting Aliyu Gusau, but the Northern Elders Council is supporting Namadi. So, what is this problem? And he made one Yakassai who cannot go to Kano now and make statement the head of the Northern Elders Council. But ask them: which one of them can deliver his place?”
Bristling with fury, Yakassai issued a press statement today in which he called Jokolo a frustrated and misguided nuisance who shouldn’t be taken seriously on account of his disparaging remarks about the President and the Vice-President. Saying Jokolo’s “truncated career as a soldier and deposed traditional ruler” render him irrelevant, misguided and frustrated, he also threw veiled bricks at Buhari and the press.
“His chosen medium to proffer advice on sensitive national issues to President Goodluck Jonathan is most inappropriate and indicative of the mischief that motivated him,” Yakassai said. He suggested that Jokolo’s advice should have been made available to his former military master who has thrown his hat into the ring of politics without the required sincere counseling, hence his record of failure in each attempt to gain high office.
“It is quite obvious that Jokolo can only add nuisance value to national discourse since he has chosen the easier road to cheap popularity by rumbling incoherently to the press. For the sake of posterity, it is important that we set the record straight. The Northern Elders Council, as is contained in our Mission Statement, is our own creation aimed at fostering national unity and peaceful coexistence amongst Nigerians.
“Our membership is spread across all the three geo-political zones in the North. We have, in our fold, tested politicians, technocrats and successful entrepreneurs who are not only patriots, but see Nigeria from the perspective of ‘One for All, All for One.’ Our decision to come together is in pursuit of our fundamental human rights as citizens to form and belong to legitimate associations.”
He explained that socio-cultural organizations are voluntary, not elective, and merely serve as pressure group to pursue a defined interest, and that if Jokolo disagrees with his group’s position on national issues he ought to do so in a reasonable and rational manner.
Referring to Jokolo’s track record, he noted that he has himself lived his life in Kano and never been sent on exile. “I will however not go into Jokolo’s obsession for breach of laid down laws and procedures which is legendary. Even though I do not hold brief for the Vice President, his reference to the Vice President as a political liability stems from deep ignorance, lack of sincerity and mercenary motivation.”
Citing the 2011 presidential elections to confirm the political strength and acceptability of the Vice President in Kaduna his home State, Yakassai said that the PDP won the elections convincingly there.
“As a failed soldier and monarch, he may probably be an intending politician,” the statement said. “He should stop hiding behind a smokescreen and be courageous enough and so that he can come under the full heat of public scrutiny and ridicule which his unenviable half-baked careers will surely deserve.”