Frontline nationalist, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai is not exactly comfortable with the dynamics of the just concluded general elections. The elder statesman, in his characteristic bluntness, laments on the role of religion and ethnicity in the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan. He is deeply worried that the fallout of the 2015 presidential election might result in negative consequences for the unity of Nigeria. He speaks to Sun Newspaper, DESMOND MGBOH in Kano…
Despite the efforts of President Jonathan to seek the friendship of the core North by extending a reasonable size of projects to them, he was hated, hunted and turned down by these same people during the presidential election. What exactly happened?
Well, the people (core North) have been incited against Jonathan a long time ago. Even the educated ones were not fair in relating to his achievements in the region. They had made up their minds that Jonathan is anti-North. And whatever he has done, he remained anti-North. The fact that he sited nine of 12 new universities in the North in order to assist in bridging the educational gap that exists between the North and the rest of the country did not matter. The fact that he introduced the Almajiri schools which would reduce the number of young people who go about doing nothing but begging also never counted to them.
In fact, somebody this morning, as we were discussing Jonathan, insisted that Jonathan was only busy sacking Northerners from federal establishments. But when I looked at the number of ministers and northerners in key positions, I realised that this very influential individual, who should know better, had made up his mind not to be objective about the issue. He was not prepared to listen to anybody. So, some people had made up their minds. The fact remains that there was this high level conspiracy against Jonathan, such that whatever he does, it would have been very difficult to convince people to abandon their already concluded opinion about him.
For instance, I was made to understand that a number of the members of the traditional institution and influential clerics and university people, they all ganged up to spread one form of propaganda or the other against him (Jonathan). And this propaganda has already gone down deep into the minds of the people. The Friday before the presidential election, virtually all the imams in the North made a simple appeal to their congregations that when they go out the following day to cast their votes, they should make sure that they did not cast their votes in favour of an infidel. Just in one or two words, the campaign was finished. So, the following day everybody was charged to go and vote against an infidel. Who was that infidel? Jonathan. Even the Friday after the election, I attended a mosque where the imam was offering thanksgiving prayers to God for getting rid of an infidel.
Still, on this topic, what about the PDP members who also failed to rise up to defend their own and their party?
That is not my problem today. My problem is that we in the far North have acted out the script of Gideon Orkar. We have opted out of the mainstream of Nigerian politics and I am waiting for the time to come when we would realise the consequences of our action.
When you say that you people have acted out the script of Gideon Orkar, what exactly do you mean?
Let me put it this way. This country is a country which is equally divided between Christians and Muslims. Where a Muslim would not vote for somebody because he is a Christian, then there is a problem. It may not appear immediately but there is a long time predicament that would one day appear because when someday it is the turn of a Christian to vote for a Muslim, surely this thing happening today would boomerang.