A recent comment credited to Chief Ebenezer Babatope that the North should wait until after 2019 to vie for the office of the President has elicited knocks from some northern groups.
Babatope, had while speaking at a public function in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, to mark the nation’s 53rd independence anniversary, asked the northerners to wait till 2019 after Jonathan’s tenure might have expired saying if he is still alive by that time, he will lead a campaign for power to return to the region.
He was quoted as saying, “If Jonathan declares to contest the 2015 election, I will be among the people that will campaign for him. I submit that it is right and proper that the Ijaw man, President Goodluck Jonathan, completes his term in 2019.
“After that, if I am still alive, I will be one of those that will fight to ensure the North have its turn in 2019,” Babatope said.
But in a sharp rebuke for the former Minister of Transport, the leader of Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said Babatope lacked the moral authority to ask the North not to field a candidate for the 2015 presidential elections.
Babatope, according to Junaid, was part of a group of people around the late Premier of the Western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who rejected a similar suggestion offered the late sage in 1979/ 1980.
“None of these people who are telling the North these things have justified what they are asking the North to do. Is what they are asking based on any rational ground?
“If you want somebody to wait for something, tell him why you want him to do that. Who is Babatope?
“He was one those who made a career vilifying everything northern.
“If these are the kind of people who expect the North to take advice from them, then we will tell them to go and hang themselves. We are not going to take their advice.”
Junaid noted that democracy was a game of numbers, and as such, excluding the majority out of any of the processes was not negotiable.
Likewise, the Northern Elders Forum said just like every other Nigerian, Babatope was entitled to his opinion.
The Forum’s spokesman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi said, “Like every other Nigerian, Babatope is entitled to his opinion. He was even more charitable than some other individuals, who were even suggesting that northerners should not even vie at all.”