*Nobody can stop him from seeking re-election
By Soni Daniel, Abuja
Contrary to the claim by the associates of President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State said, yesterday, that the president reached an agreement with leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and governors elected on the platform of the party in 2011 to serve only a single term.
Aliyu, who also leads the governors from the North where opposition to the president’s alleged bid for second term in 2015 has been loudest, said the purported bid by Jonathan for re-election should be seen as mere speculation.
The governor released his bombshell while featuring on a radio programme, Guest of the Week, aired on Liberty Radio 91.7, Abuja.
Earlier, yesterday, the Presidency restated its claim that nobody could stop Jonathan from seeking a second term as there was no constitutional provision barring him.
“I recall that at the time he was going to declare for the 2011 election, all the PDP governors were brought together to ensure that we were all in the same frame of mind,”Aliyu, the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, said.
He went on: “And I recall that some of us said that, given the circumstances of the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua and given the PDP zoning arrangement, it was expected that the North was to produce the president for a given number of years.
“I recall that at that discussion, it was agreed that Jonathan would serve only one term of four years and we all signed the agreement. Even when Jonathan went to Kampala, in Uganda, he also said he was going to serve a single term
“For now, President Jonathan has not declared a second term ambition and we must not be speculating based on those who are benefiting from the campaign.
“I think we are all gentlemen enough; so when the time comes, we will all come together and see what is the right thing to do”.
Answering a question on the merger of four opposition parties on the platform of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), the Niger governor stated that it will engender a situation where strong parties will challenge one another.
“I pray for the success of the merger because I want a situation where we will have parties that will challenge one another properly so that we don’t take it for granted that, because you have been winning elections, you can do as you wish,”he pointed out.
“There is a purpose for elections. There is a purpose for setting up government. You set up government for the competence and efficiency of running an administration.
“You don’t set up government so that a group of people can enjoy to the detriment of the majority of the people. So, to me, the success of the merger will look like what is happening in developed countries where one party does it for a period of time and another party does it for another period of time.
“We should encourage a situation where our party become rational and very organised and where our party has democracy within because that is the foundation of a democracy of a nation.
“A situation where a party is allowed to handpick candidates and put them up for elections should not be encouraged”.
He described the prediction that Nigeria will break up in 2015 as a result of normal intellectual research after looking at the variables and concluding that if our situation continues to degenerate, there is the likelihood of a breakup.
Aliyu, however, reminded proponents of disintegration that Nigeria did not fight a civil war to break up, adding that majority of Nigerians will fight to ensure that the country remain as one.
“Let us understand that a break up is not going to be as neat as some people think because I recall that when we had the civil war, there were some people who said if you allow that group to go, we will also go.
“Majority of Nigerians don’t want a break up. Only a few individuals are calling for a break up. And you don’t call for a break up simply because you have something today.
“We have gone to Mali to help them fight off what is becoming a civil war. So if it starts in Nigeria, I don’t think the world will stand by and watch. We will ensure that we stay as one nation to enjoy the benefits of what we have been fighting for”.
On his purported ambition to run for president in 2015, Aliyu said if it is the will of God for him to contest, God himself will create the proper avenue for him to do so.
“But I have not said to anybody that this or that is what I want to do in 2015. We will cross the bridge when we get to it”, he said.
‘Neither APC nor Panadol can stop Jonathan’
Meanwhile, the Presidency, yesterday, lashed out at those campaigning to stop Jonathan from contesting in 2015, saying that the campaigners were either ignorant of the law or were doing so out of selfish political interest to intimidate Mr. President out of the contest.
According to Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Jonathan would have done only five years if he decides not to run in 2015 and would have done only nine years even if he contests and wins the 2015 without violating any section of the Nigerian constitution because his first tenure actually started in May 2011 and not 2010 as often claimed by ignorant and mischievous politicians.
He told Sunday Vanguard exclusively in Abuja: “His (Jonathan) tenure would have been abridged if he does not contest in 2015. Yar’Adua was incapacitated and he was naturally allowed to act. The law recognises Jonathan’s first tenure with effect from May 2011 and nothing more.
“If anyone says Jonathan should not contest in 2015, he would have spent only five years. My position is that if Mr. President is not going to contest, let it be on his own volition but let nobody intimidate him out of office for their selfish political reasons.
“Secondly, it is Jonathan’s decision and that of Nigerians at the polls that will determine what happens in 2015. Tell those who are talking about Jonathan not being qualified to contest in 2015 to do a proper calculation from when he was sworn in as President in 2011 and see if their calculation is right.
“If the President decides not run in 2015, so be it, but let no individual or group attempt to deny him his constitutional entitlement. It is not going to happen. Neither APC nor Panadol can stop him”.
Gulak pointed out that Jonathan deserved the respect and support of Nigerians for being the best leader in Nigeria to tackle corruption and infrastructural decay in the land.
According to him, the federal administration has uncovered more corrupt cases and tackled them than any other regime in the history of Nigeria.