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Tanko Yakasai
Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, elder statesman and former Liaison Officer to President Shehu Shagari, in this interview with Ahmad Tijjani Abdul in Kano, bares his mind on the forthcoming 2023 general election, calls for former President Goodluck Jonathan to contest and other issues . Excerpts:

There are pressure group within the ruling APC canvassing for ex President Jonathan to succeed Buhari in office, what’s your reaction to this development?

I have sympathy for Goodluck Jonathan, we have never met until he was thrown up into national limelight. I believe in rotation, and as a foundation member of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, we introduced zoning to give opportunities to geopolitical zones to strengthen the unity of the country. We realized too early that if you allowed the Hausa/ Fulani, Igbos and the Yorubas to have their way, minority groups like the Edos, Taraba, Tivs may not have their bite, and the message is to force various groups to go into alliance to achieve their political goals on a diverse set up because zoning or rotation are vital to survival of democracy in a heterogeneous society. Therefore, I was at home with Chief Jonathan’s presidency, it tallies with my position on how to unite Nigeria.

Do Nigerians need Jonathan’s second coming?

I have been in politics for 70 years, and experience has shown that pressure groups usually have their motives, and he need to analyse and study the situation to enable him make an informed decision. He should ask himself what exactly this pseudo group want from him? Is it that they need power to grab opportunities that abound in government circle? Or is it that they are genuinely concern in solving the Nigerian problems? My major concern for now is for Nigerians to vote for who can change the trajectory, that individual must be public spirited, must have the capacity, competency, and the ability to raise a good team to tackle our multifaceted problems. I’m a nationalist, and my position all these while is to see Nigeria come out of the wood.

Is it ideal to float him now ?

It is a good idea that the South- South will be able to have its second term on the seat of power. Although, the situation that gave him the first mandate is no longer there anymore.

But this was the same man that was voted out of power by Nigerian, won’t it be a hard sell?

When Jonathan got his first mandate , Chief Obasanjo has already established his second term, and I felt Chief Goodluck should be given a second term because 4 years is not enough to actualize his dream policy in Nigeria. If you can recollect, I was in the forefront of those who canvassed and stood by Jonathan, sacrifices were made all for National unity and cohesion, but the rest is now history. I stand for one Nigeria, and had no regret on the role I played. I see Nigeria as one big family and the need to work together to maximise the country full potentials. Whether it is ideal to stage a comeback, I will tell you there is nothing wrong from nursing a legitimate ambition in a participatory democracy.

Do you think Jonathan’s candidacy will resolve power shift questions?

Chief Goodluck Ebele Jonathan candidacy will quench the thirst of agitation from his zone. Yoruba had Obasanjo, but fairness demands that another person should be given a second chance. In this contest, Chief Jonathan’s popularity should account for 50 percent of his chances. As it is now, he has limited time, and it is an arduous task for his handlers.

How will the north react to Jonathan’s candidacy in 2023?

The North supported him before, no strong obstacle on his way in the north. You can’t be everywhere, but you need strong people to sell his candidacy to the grassroots. As it is stands now, Jonathan needs influential people to sell him to Nigerians, and besides that, he needs resources to oil his ambition. He needs billions of naira, because, politics is capital intensive. Certainly, no one is going to work for him for free because the whole process has been monetized.

The clamour for Jonathan’s second coming coincides with escalating security challenges, do you think he can do something differently this time around?

Unfortunately, the last time, it was the security challenges reached a crescendo during his tenure, and that pulled the rug from his feet in favour of the incumbent. As at that time , Nigerians suspected that Buhari with his military background will do better. For now, it requires Jonathan to set up a team of knowledgeable individuals to develop a programmes and synergy on how to deal with the monster. We also need the goodwill of international community to assure investors that Nigeria’s huge market is safe for investment. Insecurity was huge problem during his last tenure, and President Muhammadu Buhari and his party men cashed on it to grab power, and the problems have since multiplied.

Who will you wish to succeed Buhari as Nigeria approaches 2023 General election?

In the first place, after President Muhammadu Buhari, power should shift to from the north to the southern part of this country in the interests of national unity, peace and tranquility. I have this strong feeling that a competent southerner should take over from President Buhari. It will be a collateral damage to Nigeria unity for a Northerner to succeed Buhari. Therefore, we need a competent person from the south to change the tide.