*APC: It is Jonathan’s Dialogue
By Hugo Odiogor & Emmanuel Aziken
Security of the venue and places where officials and delegates to the forth-coming National Conference will be given top priority by the Federal Government even as it denies that there is a hidden agenda by the Jonathan administration. The Federal Government lashed out at those inputing hidden agenda on the conference came on a day the oposition All Progressives Congress (APC) dismissed it as a Jonathan dialogue given the high number of delegates to be nominated by the president.
The Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gulak, yesterday, debunked the allegation of hidden agenda in the Federal Government’s nomination of 114 of the 492 delegates to the conference who, according to him, are draw from critical areas of national interest and security.
“The Federal Government will go the extra mile to protect the lives of the delegates and the vital facilities that will be committed to the business of the National Conference”, the presidential adviser said while speaking to Sunday Vanguard on security for conference members..
”We have directed relevant security agencies to ensure optimal security of the venues and accommodation of delegates without disrupting other activities in Abuja during the period.”
He said the experience of the 2010 golden jubilee celebration venue that was bombed remains fresh “and we are sure that some evil-minded people would want to embark on such a risky venture just to truncate the National Conference, but those who would attempt such thing would meet their waterloo”.
Gulak added, “Security agencies would be fully mobilised to frustrate any plot to destabilise the work of the National Conference when it is inaugurated by President.Goodluck Ebele Jonathan”.
On the claim that government has a hidden agenda in nominating a large number of delegates, the presidential aide said: “We know that we have perpetual doubting Thomases and professional critics who would always smell rat even when they see a cockroach. The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is working hard to correct this negative attitude which built up over the years. We have come to the point where we must invest trust in our leaders if we want them to succeed in actualising our aspirations.
“Those who have raised doubts may mean well for the country, but they should have basis for raising such doubts because this government is not an occupation army,it is not a foreign sovereign, it is a government that came to power through the ballot box not through bullet; it owes its responsibility to the citizens of Nigeria, we must treat it as our own government, otherwise, the government and the people will work at cross purposes to the delight of those who want the government to fail.”
Meanwhile, APC said, yesterday, the National Conference could turn out to be a Jonathan Conference given the preponderance of delegates to be nominated by the president. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, interim national publicity secretary of the APC said, nonetheless, the party will this week decide on whether it would send delegates to the conference.
Mohammed, at a press briefing in Abuja, also challenged the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, to read the defection letter submitted to him by 10 senators formerly of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
This week’s meeting of the APC top hierarchy, he said, would also finalise plans for the party’s membership registration exercise which is kicking off on February 5.
15 million party members are expected to be registered during the exercise to be conducted in 120,000 polling locations across the country, the party spokesman said.
Given the modalities rolled out for the nomination of delegates to the conference, Mohammed was asked if the APC and its governors would present delegates. He said:
“I am happy to say that right now, almost all our fears are being justified and people are now calling it Jonathan’s conference given the fact that he alone is nominating about 90 delegates and even those who rallied round it at the beginning are now seeing what we saw right from the beginning.
“Our position on the National Conference is now being vindicated. If you remember, we said that we did not believe that the convener was focused and that we were completely worried, why a convener who all along had been completely against the idea of a National Conference would just now turn round and that the kind of National Conference we envisage is not the kind of National Conference that will be ratified by the National Assembly.
“I am happy that what we saw that this thing is just diversionary is what everybody is saying now. I wouldn’t want to pre-empt my party, but the whole thing looks very bizarre even from the beginning”.