An elder statesman and former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in the June 12 botched elections, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, has said the North would still take a shot at the presidency in 2023.
He also cautioned politicians and leaders in the South-west against overheating the polity by blaming the nation’s security challenge on the “so-called herdsmen” or Hausa Fulani.
The elder statesman stated this in an interview with Blueprint in Kano.
He said: “I noticed or have been following debates in the media about power shift to the South-west in 2023, one should quickly answer this by taking a look at the 2019 presidential result, it clearly shows Buhari won with votes from the North.
“Secondly, when Abiola contested for the presidency, he was popular among northern businessmen, among our elders, among our traditional rulers, he sponsored several northern students to study abroad, he assisted in building several mosques in the North and had several business interests in the North. I noticed that among those aspiring to be president from the South-west, none has late Abiola’s pedigree. As such, I can see the North, which did not benefit much from this administration insisting to have the presidency again in 2023.”
On recent murder of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti, the elder statesman said, “Yes, I am really pained and worried about the recent gruesome murder of the daughter of leader of Afenifere by unknown gunmen. But for leaders of the area, including former governors and ministers to quickly come out and accuse the North or the so-called herdsmen of perpetrating the act is unfortunate and this will not speak good for the unity of the country.
“I heard many people calling on northern leaders in the media to come to the defence of the presidency, especially the president who is a Hausa-Fulani, over series of attack on his administration by prominent South-west leaders, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, but even we in the North are not in better position to stand for the president because majority of our people are of the believe that he is more of a Yoruba president than a Hausa president.”
On June 12 as Democracy Day and the decoration of MKO Abiola believed to have won the poll, the former presidential candidate expressed some reservations.
He said: “This government, unilaterally, without the backing of the National Assembly, bestowed the highest honour of GCFR and GCON on late MKO Abiola and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, including an open apology over the annulment of June 12 by the military cabal.
“The question is, I am yet to see where the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC) or competent court of jurisdiction declared that MKO Abiola won the June 12 election with so, so result and so, so percentage. This is nowhere to be found. As such, I consider all decisions taken by this government on June 12 as a nullity.
“The government at the same time went ahead and declared June 12 as Democracy Day. They should know that late MKO Abiola – my good friend – did not contest in the June 12 election alone, I was a major player in that election and up till tomorrow, I hold the believe that I did not lose that election. It was to use the popular phrase of INEC ‘inconclusive’ because there were series of court pronouncements stopping the election and it was duly stopped.
“In order to set the record straight, the National Assembly would have invited the former Chairman of NEC, Professor Humphery Nwosu, to appear before them and announce the full result of that election if it’s not tampered with. But even at that, one can still challenge its eligibility because this thing happened in 1992 and it can be tampered with by those who annulled the election in the first place.”
On the controversial Ruga project, he said, “The South-west descended on the president heavily and as beautiful as the project is, because it had been there for long by the military, the government abandoned it and the North is yet to react. After all, you notice on daily basis trailer loads of cows and other assorted animals being taken to southern parts of the country from the North. They are products of herdsmen; as such Ruga should not be condemned.
“Recently, Kano faced a fundamental political and traditional crisis and we quickly put up a committee of Kano elders and met the president for the problem to be solved, but as important as Kano is to Buhari’s presidential project, nothing was done and today, Indians and Lebanese that are active in our textile industry are running away for fear of insecurity.”