By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
Former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Gen. Jeremiah Useni, yesterday, dismissed media reports claiming that northern delegates to the National Conference were opposed to the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
Useni, who was part of the north’s delegation, which addressed the press in Abuja on Tuesday, said at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday that the decisions taken by the delegates were wrongly reported by a section of the press.
According to Useni, the Northern delegates only addressed the press conference at the Gombe Jewel Hotel to draw attention to the fact that what they deliberated and agreed upon at the National Conference were only proposals and should not have been referred to as “Draft Constitution” by the leadership of the confab.
The former minister also pointed out that contrary to insinuations, at no time did the northern delegates, say that they would not back President Jonathan’s re-election next year, if he chooses to contest.
He said that it was wrong to lump the issue of the confab with the president or any person’s political rights, since they were completely unrelated.
The retired General made it clear that neither the national conference nor the document, which was prepared for delegates to endorse amounted to a “third term’ agenda by Mr. President or a declaration by the northern delegates that Jonathan should not contest in 2015.
He said he had always made his position very clear about the fact that President Jonathan has inalienable rights under the Nigerian Constitution to contest if he wishes to do so next year and that it would not in any way amount to a “third term”.
Useni said: “The issue of the National Conference or the document in question being part of a third term agenda by Mr. President or that we said or agreed that the President should not contest in 2015 election is not true.
“I have at different times in the past always made my position clear and my position has not changed; it remains the same: The President, Goodluck Jonathan, has the right under the Constitution to contest the 2015 election, if he wishes. If he decides to exercise his rights, it does not amount to a third term.
Furthermore, the National Conference and the events that are taking place there have nothing to do with the President’s or any person’s political rights.
Useni, who described himself as a staunch supporter of Mr. President because of his good work, said he was set to lead all his supporters in the Democratic People’s Party, DPP, to the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in support of Jonathan.
He said: “Personally, even though I am a member of the Democratic People’s Party, my current sympathies are with the Peoples Democratic Party, and I have issued a statement and I am preparing myself together with all my supporters to move enmasse to the PDP.
“It is therefore, not true to report that I hold the view or I am a party to a position that the Presidnt should not contest the 2015 elections or that if he does so, it would amount to a third term,” Useni explained.
It will be recalled that some media had quoted the northern delegates as warning Jonathan not to contest in 2015 as it would amount to a third term.