EXCLUSIVE: Northern elders reject Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan’s patchy relationship with key northern political groups took a plunge at last week’s hyped visit of the region’s elders to the president, with the team’s last minute rejection of a N20 million presidential gift, those familiar with the matter have told PREMIUM TIMES.

The visit by the Northern Elders’ Forum, a touchy political gambit that has since generated discontent from some northern regional organizations, was made to confer with the administration on the way out of the current security challenge the country is facing.

The government has faced scorching attacks from the region’s leading class over its handling of the matter.

The meeting discussed the operations of the Joint Task Force military outfit, which the delegation told the commander-in-chief, were involved in extrajudicial killings and other excesses.

But those familiar with the proceedings say after the talks, the government, through an intermediary, offered the visitors about N20 million – branded as “kola from oga” (meaning honorarium from the president).

Presidential sources say the offering of huge cash to visitors is an infamous but routine  gesture in Aso Rock..   

The money was however rejected based on a “consensus” of the members of the group, after they were handed the cash in several bulky envelopes as they emerged from the meeting venue and made their way back to their bus.

“The president may not have been aware. But then, it is unlikely he knew nothing about it. But someone stationed near the bus offered the delegation the package,” one of oursources said.

PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify the sequence of events during and after the meeting. Phone calls and text messages to presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, for comments were not answered or returned.

We however learnt that after the talks, said to have ended on a cordial note, members of the group were met as they were boarding a bus to exit the villa, by an administration representative who informed them of the monetary package.

Those who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, many on anonymity, said the group considered the motive of the donation and reached an “automatic consensus” that the offer be rejected.

“The members were emphatic,” one source said. “When you review what has been going on at the National Assembly, you realize you need to be careful with such gifts.”

When contacted, a member of the delegation, Lawan Kaita, declined to comment on the monetary gift from the president’s office, directing all enquiries at Maitama Sule, who he said was leader of the delegation.

Mr. Maitama could not be reached for comments but another member of the delegation, Ango Abdullahi, confirmed that his team was offered huge cash after their meeting.

Prof Abdullahi, a former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, told PREMIUM TIMES the gesture from the administration may have been a reflection of “African hospitality” regarding visits.

“It is common practice in Africa that when you pay someone a visit, your host should extend hospitality,” he said. “But in our case, what was offered was turned down. It was an automatic consensus that it should be rejected because we have to be very careful.

He however could not confirm the amount offered his group although another source said the money should have been in the region of N20 million.

“No one had time the to count money,” Mr. Abdullahi said. “Once you don’t want it you don’t want it. There is no need to count.”

The offer of cash to the northern elders again underlines a longstanding culture in government houses where discretionary cash tills are kept, and arbitrarily deployed by aides and officials to “appreciate” guests to the chief executive – governors or the president.

This year, the state house budgets N436.4 million as honorarium and sitting allowance. The amount is expected to cater for regular state meetings such as council of state meetings, security and economic council meetings.

But its provisions, backed by separate wide monetary votes, also become handy for servicing presidential guests.

More than 15 members of the Northern Elders’ Forum attended the closed-door meeting with the president where they roundly condemned the tactics of the JTF in hunting down militants and keeping peace in the region that has seen several armed attacks.

Those in attendance included Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Yusuf Maitama Sule, Paul Unongo, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi(rtd), Lawal Kaita, Shehu Malami, Sanni Zango-Daura, Bello Kirshi, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, and Gen. Paul Tarfa(rtd).

Others were Bishop John Praise, Gen. IBM Haruna (rtd), Sen. Wash Pam, Rev. Yakubu Pam and Dr. Safiyat Mohammed.

The government’s delegation to the meeting included Vice President Namadi Sambo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Sani Sali, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, and all ministers from the north.

The group reportedly told the president that although regional leaders were “appalled” by the activities of the Boko Haram sect, they were equally concerned about the behaviour of the security personnel deployed to protect lives and properties.

“The most charitable interpretation of their mode of operation is unprofessionalism,” the group’s leader, Yusuf Maitama Sule reportedly told the president.

They accused the Joint Task Force whose of summary executions and arson, carried out “in the name of fighting Boko Haram.”

“In Maiduguri alone, available records indicate the figures of those that were killed by the JTF to be in the thousands, most of whom were first apprehended/arrested before they were extra judicially executed,” they told the president.


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  • adenle

    Aso Rock:Centre of Bribery And Corruption!

    • Tom Versa

      @adenle. Please becareful what you believe in. GEJ may be a weak/poor performing President but not like BBI or the goggled one that will buy off people with cash.

      • Otitoju

        I think we need to talk very straight. I will rely on the facts.
        1. All have agreed that the DANA plane had had technical problems on many occasions.
        2. All know that despite these series of factual technical problems this plane had had , it was CERTIFIED fit to fly. Please let somebody deny this factually.
        3. The plane flew and and roasted the lives of about 150 Nigerians. A coffin was CERTIFIED fit to fly by NIGERIANS in NIGERIA.
        4. Point 3 above happened because we have an environment of CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA.
        5. Whether Mr. President’s guests counted the money or not does not matter IF WE ARE SERIOUS IN THIS COUNTRY.
        6. I am a tax payer. I DID NOT VOTE TO AUTHORIZE MR. PRESIDENT TO USE MY TAX AS TIPS TO VISITORS. Even if what was given out to the guests and which the guests rejected was ten naira, it was a tip. An unauthorized tip is a bribe.
        7. And more importantly is the PRESIDENCY a hotel or brothel or some restaurant where you have to give tips? Is that the level we have sunk in this country? Now we are sending our children to go to Ghana , Togo, Benin Republic for high school eduction and some of us cant see this decay. yet we are trying to rationalise the open bribe from the presidency to the guests. Haba!
        8. Now this is my point-Based on 1,2,3 above it follows that SOMEBODY took bribe to certify the DANA plane. That person who took the bribe to certify the DANA plane will point to the so-called gift of the presidency to the guests as justification.
        9. CONCLUSION: If you cannot condemn this bribe and you are trying to play games (about the so-called exact amount- which is NOT the ETHICAL thing), then YOU LOSE your moral right to condemn the DANA plane crash. Then your GRIEF IS CROCODILE GRIEF.
        Please deal with this factually and logically. DO NOT PLAY ETHNIC OR RELIGIOUS GAMES. You can object to it, but be factual and logical.
        Thank you

        • Weli

          How inappropriate here.

          • Otitoju

            when you atomise and isolate individual acts of corruption it will seem inappropriate. Take a deep breadth and think my dear friend. Corruption reigns supreme and are allowed in individual cases when you build walls between one corrupt act and the other. It is the general environment of corruption that will make A NIGERIAN CERTIFY AN UNFIT PLANE AS FIT. This environment and system of corruption has its seat in the presidency. When one grieves at a thing, what does it ordinarily imply? It ought to imply that your grief rejects the cause of what makes you to grieve. Now what is the cause of that unfortunate plane crash? It is corruption-period. A Nigerian took a bribe and certified a place fit in order for him/her and her/him Indian owner/shareholders of airline to make profit. If someone wants to continue to grieve and he/she is not ready to attack the root cause of the problem, my brother and sister we will grieve for ever. This is the way we have been grieving from one calamity and the other without facing the problem as if grief will solve it. What will happen tomorrow? It will be the Chinese owners of another company. We Nigerians will certify an unfit company. The Chinese will take the bulk of the evil profit, pass some crumbs to the idiotic middle class Nigerian, and there will be another disaster. Everyone will grieve for a while only for the root cause -CORRUPTION-to remain untouched. Step back and THINK DEEP Weli, and see this.
            Goodluck my broda/sista.
            God Bless thou plentiful

          • Ademola

            Yes Otitoju, I think Weli missed the point. And that is our problem in Nigeria. let me give you a good example of the 419 boys people call yahoo yahoo boys. People like Weli will wrongly say there is a difference between the(I) so-called gift the presidency dishes out without any budgetary allocation or ethical rationale, (ii) the corrupt Nigerian who certified the DANA plane coffin as fit, and (iii) the 419 boys and girls-the yahoo yahoo people at the cybercafes. People like Weli and their ilks belong to the Nigerian middle class who want to pretend that the 155 billion naira Malibu oil scandal, the Halliburton scandal, the bribe Mr. Jonathan’s presidency gave the Northern elders as basic business, but that the yahoo yahoo/419 boys are the ones being fraudulent!!! You see that is the lie our middle class tells itself in order to cover its tracks. It may just be that we have lost the concept and word for corruption. You see if you do not have a word for a thing or you deliberately lose the concept for it, then you can not know it. So? if you are looting the nation’s treasury right, left and center, and you sign a flying coffin as fit, and you collect your bribe , you will just think you are doing your legitimate business in THE ENVIRONMENT!!! And if the consequences come knocking like in the DANA plane crash and people criticize, you are shocked and you ask”What the heck are they talking about…!!!” You only need to grieve a little bit so that people will not think you are not concerned and you move on. That is the fraudulent story of Nigerian middle class-build an atomic wall between one corrupt act and the other and justify yours. See why CORRUPTION is a system and why it cannot end until you take it on headlong? Why? Nigerian middle class do not just see that these things are corrupt for they already lost the concept. Thanks otitoju.

          • Ademola

            Yes Otitoju, I think Weli missed the point. And that is our problem in Nigeria. let me give you a good example of the 419 boys people call yahoo yahoo boys. People like Weli will wrongly say there is a difference between the(I) so-called gift the presidency dishes out without any budgetary allocation or ethical rationale, (ii) the corrupt Nigerian who certified the DANA plane coffin as fit, and (iii) the 419 boys and girls-the yahoo yahoo people at the cybercafes. People like Weli and their ilks belong to the Nigerian middle class who want to pretend that the 155 billion naira Malibu oil scandal, the Halliburton scandal, the bribe Mr. Jonathan’s presidency gave the Northern elders as basic business, but that the yahoo yahoo/419 boys are the ones being fraudulent!!! You see that is the lie our middle class tells itself in order to cover its tracks. It may just be that we have lost the concept and word for corruption. You see if you do not have a word for a thing or you deliberately lose the concept for it, then you can not know it. So? if you are looting the nation’s treasury right, left and center, and you sign a flying coffin as fit, and you collect your bribe , you will just think you are doing your legitimate business in THE ENVIRONMENT!!! And if the consequences come knocking like in the DANA plane crash and people criticize, you are shocked and you ask”What the heck are they talking about…!!!” You only need to grieve a little bit so that people will not think you are not concerned and you move on. That is the fraudulent story of Nigerian middle class-build an atomic wall between one corrupt act and the other and justify yours. See why CORRUPTION is a system and why it cannot end until you take it on headlong? Why? Nigerian middle class do not just see that these things are corrupt for they already lost the concept. Thanks otitoju.

  • Gbon2012

    how did u come about the amount involved wen the delegates said they did not count the money?

    • abio my broda….nawah for all this cock and bull story.

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    Lies. Lies. Lies. northern muslim leaders can say anything and do anything to damage Jonathan. I dont believe them. When have they become saints. Most of these characters stole the country blind under and with, Abacha and now wants to tell us about their honesty. Return Abacha loots and urs, if u want to be taken serious. Is Jonathan’s govt corrupt? Yes. Are these his visitors more corrupt? Absolutely yes. Imagine Maitama Sule, talking about corruption! One day IBB will reject bribe and make a public show of it. smh

    • Oomar

      Why must you tag everything Northern as Islamic? If you read the story carefully you would have seen that a couple of Christian religious leaders were also in attendance. Please let’s be objective in our reasoning and comments and avoid attacking each others religion when what we should be doing is looking for ways to move forward as a people.

      • George

        I agree with Oomar.

      • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

        When was the last time ur state governor approved land for church building. U are always to shout tolerance when are u d most intolerant sect in the world.

        • Abiodun

          When was the “FIRST TIME” any of the south -south governors approve C of C for building a mosques on any of the campuses in their states? For 15 years, Muslims Students at Rivers State of Science and Technology are looking for a room, “ROOM” to be performing their prayers, but yet!

          • Weli

            If they haven’t got a room, they must be very poor indeed! To build a Mosque, They must have the cash, apply for planning permission and then commence work. The fact that hey can’t even rent a room is their problem. Or are you expecting the FG to provide this for them? I don’t think that any other religion would have this sort of expectation, not even Christians.

  • Anonimous

    Northern Elders you better wake up, because this incompetent president is aware of all that is happening in Northern States which is part of their agenda…. Enof is Enof

  • Mohammed Lere

    @ MITIKWELU abi wetin be that your ancient name,(Paul Unongo, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi(rtd) Mrs. Pauline Tallen, Gen. Paul Tarfa(rtd), Bishop John Praise,Sen. Wash Pam, Rev. Yakubu Pam. are not Muslims and are all in the entourage! you bloody sadist. why are you people always crazy about even what u believe in! wake up dude and stop this nonsense of Northern Muslims or so!

    • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

      to be northern, u have to be muslim. Ask the Kaduna mafia. Those guys u mentioned were merely carrying handbags for these ur elders. When was the last time any northwest governor gave CofO for church building. its one north in national politics but Fulbe for Arewa. Imagine Tallen, totally rejected by Plateau people is tagging along. what a sorry sight! As per my name, i can assure u, its more modern than ‘sarduana’. the BH, u guys nurtured is about to consume u all. Go create more almajiris. when the xtians are cleansed, they will come for u all.

  • Easy-E

    Much ado about nothing. By your own admission, you do not even know the amount that was offered. They were right to reject this and I hope that this culture is brought to an end. Offering money like this although typically Nigerian is wrong. We must learn that a firm handshake is in itself good enough to bid our visitors farewell.

    At any rate, I hope that the activities of the JTF is intensified. As the popular maxim says ‘if it ain’t hurting, it ain’t working’. There can be no let up until the activities of the sect is brought under control. For too long, they have made a mockery of our Security Services. Now that they are having a little bit of success, the sect are crying to their big brothers for help. Big brothers have come to ask the authorities to call off the dogs. The President will be ill advised to interfere with the operational details of the JTF. After all, they are the experts in the theater..

  • walemoses2000

    How did they get the amount involved when the rep. even said no need to count what you are not ready to accept ?,why must we be doing this?,this mis-information is even worse that the intended influence monetarily coined in the name of hospitality.

  • Man2vors

    Denpasar: A 27-year-old Nigerian soccer player was sentenced to seven years in prison for attempting to smuggle crystal methamphetamine into the country.

    The Denpasar District Court also ordered the soccer player, Osita Emmanuel Obumneme, to pay a Rp 1 billion (US$108,000) fine or spend another six months in prison.

    Presiding judge IGB Komang Wijaya Adhi announced on Wednesday that Obumneme was guilty of violating Law No. 35/2009 on Narcotics.

    The verdict was lighter than prosecutor Ida Ayu Sulasmi’s demand of 10 years’ imprisonment and a Rp 1 billion fine.

    Obumneme was arrested in Jakarta because of his involvement in an international narcotics syndicate.

    Officials at Ngurah Rai’s Customs and Excise Office earlier arrested South African drug trafficker Bret Theo Savage for smuggling 2.993 kilogram of crystal methamphetamine.

  • Nigerian

    Nigerians are really funny,how did they know it was 20 million or not does not arise,did they count it or not is none of our concern/business,what matters is they where still giving a parting gift,a kobo or a billion,it was still giving,am sure if that money was their personal money they wont even try it but bcos the money belonged to Nigerians they will so spend anyhow they want.Thank God there is some thing called death & people will surely account for everything.The intent is what matters.

  • Otitoju

    I think we need to talk very straight. I will rely on the facts.
    1. All have agreed that the DANA plane had had technical problems on many occasions.
    2. All know that despite these series of factual technical problems this plane had had , it was CERTIFIED fit to fly. Please let somebody deny this factually.
    3. The plane flew and and roasted the lives of about 150 Nigerians. A coffin was CERTIFIED fit to fly by NIGERIANS in NIGERIA.
    4. Point 3 above happened because we have an environment of CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA.
    5. Whether Mr. President’s guests counted the money or not does not matter IF WE ARE SERIOUS IN THIS COUNTRY.
    6. I am a tax payer. I DID NOT VOTE TO AUTHORIZE MR. PRESIDENT TO USE MY TAX AS TIPS TO VISITORS. Even if what was given out to the guests and which the guests rejected was ten naira, it was a tip. An unauthorized tip is a bribe.
    7. And more importantly is the PRESIDENCY a hotel where you have to give tips? Is that the level we have sunk in this country? Now we are sending our children to go to Ghana , Togo, Benin Republic for high school eduction and some of us cant see this decay. yet we are trying to rationalise the open bribe from the presidency to the guests. Haba!
    8. Now this is my point-Based on 1,2,3 above it follows that SOMEBODY took bribe to certify the DANA plane. That person who took the bribe to certify the DANA plane will point to the so-called gift of the presidency to the guests as justification.
    9. CONCLUSION: If you cannot condemn this bribe and you are trying to play games (about the so-called exact amount- which is NOT the ETHICAL thing), then YOU LOSE your moral right to condemn the DANA plane crash. Then your GRIEF IS CROCODILE GRIEF.
    Please deal with this factually and logically. DO NOT PLAY ETHNIC OR RELIGIOUS GAMES. You can object to it, but be factual and logical.
    Thank you

  • Ochimana2000

    The beauty of demacracy is that everybody is entitled to his view/opinion.Which ever way we try to look at the issue, i want to believe it did not start with this administration and for “Northern Elders” that rejected the gift,i hope continue like that in future.

  • Billuchegbue

    this is not the first time the security personnel, army and police inclusive would be drafted to restore peace and order in an area where violence had broken out. Odi in Bayelsa state exprienced a similar situation when president obasanjo ordered a military attack against the people of Odi. Reason given for such horrible unslaught was not acceptable by all Nigerians. But never a time this section of the country that wants Mr. President to intervene now, mustered the courage to condemn open violation of the rights of Odi people by an irresposible government. Odi people did not do anything that called for such maximum force meted on them.

    I think that the nothern elders who visited the presidency in attempt to ask the government to call to order JTF are insensitive on the activities of the boko-haram group. It appears that a people are still living in the past. Otherwise, one would expect these elders to caution and prevail on the group to shun violence. They should rather borrow a leaf from MASSOB; This is a group, very strategic and non violence. Yet, it has made some reasonable inpacts in Nigeria and beyond.

    The killer squad (boko-haram) that was manufactured by northern disgrutled politicians to ensure that political power does not evade the region, ought not to attract any form of sympathy or recognition.

    BY BILL UCHEGBUE.

    • Abdulbbj31

      must of the attackers are not muslim and they are not even from northen side so have to think before said.