By Hugo Odiogor, Deputy Politics Editor
For watchers of the political tango in Nigeria the cardinal question on the lips of many people is; when will Dr. Goodluck Jonathan declare his intention to run for the presidency?

The struggle for power at the centre and at the state levels is heating up and the actors are putting on their full armour but the waiting game seems to be daunting as only the brave and courageous can enter the fray without first finding out where the president is heading towards. During the days of late Gen. Sani Abacha and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, those who showed their hands too early in the presidential seat where cut to size pronto.

Within the ruling Peoples’ Democratic People there are just Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida that has summoned the courage to say he want to challenge Dr. Jonathan. We know that Mr. Donald Duke, the former governor of Cross River State is warming up to fly the flag of Labour Party just like Otunba Dele Momodu. We have General Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, while there are speculations that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar may join the fray.

The political arena remains uninteresting because everybody is waiting to know where Dr. Jonathan is headed. It is like the third term debate when everybody wanted to know where the trend of events will swing before declaring their interest. Dr. Jonathan is wise enough to employ what is regarded in political paradigm as the Fabian tactics, which is to wear your opponent out by subjecting them to endless waiting game. Dr. Jonathan may by a political neophyte, but he has with him; a team of professional politicians whose only enterprise is politicking as advisers. These are
also intellectuals like Dr. Oronto Douglas who are the intellectual arrowheads of the Jonathan cabal.

But the real issue is when Dr. Jonathan will tell Nigerians that he is to run for the office of the president. Some political observers believe that this will come as early as August but Alhaji Tanko Yakassai argues that Dr. Jonathan wants to hold on till the last minute to ensure that his opponent does not have sufficient time to challenge him. Chief Ebenezer Babatope is among those who averred that Dr. Jonathan should be a gentleman and who should not allow those around him to deceive him into discarding the power rotation principles in PDP as it was meant to serve the interest of all political groups regardless of their hues and beliefs.

While Dr. Jonathan is playing the waiting game, there are groups already campaigning for him and asking him to declare his position. No fewer than 15 of such groups have been actively inundating the media with messages and releases.  There are however, are visible signs and moves that suggests that Dr. Jonathan will run but the issues are how to overcome the first hurdle; is that the PDP zoning arrangement of power rotation, which stipulates that power should shift  between the northern and southern regions of the country.

The president himself is also embarking on nationwide tours and consultations which have seen him on official visits to Gombe, Delta, Akwa Ibom states, using each of such visits to narrow down the bitter acrimony that the zoning debate has thrown up. The state visits is providing the state governors the opportunities to out shine one another  in hosting the president.

Those state governors who feel they are not in the good books of Aso Rock are doing everything even beyond their powers, to please the President. For those who have vociferous opposition to contend with, the presidential visits offer them the opportunity to shame the opposition and tell them that their return ticket is not endangered.  The period of horse-trading even at this stage seem to favour President Jonathan.

With the governors quietly regaining their influence, there are questions about how to deal with the overbearing influence of PDP governors who have been given the omnibus powers of taking their political appointees to the convention as special delegates and thereby influencing the outcome.

A chieftain of PDP in Delta State Ogbueshi Akaeze Philip Ibonye is of the view that the country has not done the right thing after the death of former President Umaru Musa Yar Adua before concentrating on “who should take his position whether we go by zoning or not. First the political environment is so confused, the voters register that needs to be sorted out is still there, the issue of educating the political parties, the contestants and electorates on the electoral reforms and the Act if passed, has not been done, the modalities for conducting a credible, free and fair elections have not been created but we seem to  be anxious to organize an new set of election when we know that the death of the former president threw so many calculations of the cuff.”

According to Ibonye;“We want to present a façade of being constitutionalists’ even when such impression will ridicule us before the entire world. First it will take more than 60 days to conduct credible voters registration exercise, we need about 30 days to display the voters register and allow for claims and objections to be made. This will take a total of 120 days. The proposed voting machines have not arrived neither have we made provisions to test run it and observe the workability”.

Groups rooting for the Jonathan Presidency  include Goodluck Support Group (GSG)led by Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gulak;  Middle Belt Dialogue Group (MBDG); Consolidated Support for Jonathan Forum. (CSTF); Jonathan 2011 Movement led by  Alhaji Auwal Lawan; National Solidarity Group (NSG)led by Hon Robert Tyough;  Democratic Vision led by Engineer K. Kyari Gujbawu; North East Youth Support for Goodluck Jonathan led by Alhaji Ibrahim Umar; Monacco Foundation led by Arch Okechukwu Chukwuemeka;  Goodluck Grassroot Movement led by Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim; Concerned People  Democratic Party Elders led by Dr Godwin Adzuaa; Goodluck for Good Governance (3G)led by Alhaji Kabiru Wada Kura; Nigerian Association of South Central Pennsylvania (NASCPA)led by Mr Alexander Iloka;  National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) led by  Comrade Ezekwelu Chukwudubem;  Goodluck Solidarity Movement (GSM)led by Mr Pannson Dagyat;Victory Vanguard for Jonathan Presidency led by  Mr Emmanuel Ogbonda  ; Niger Delta Development Forum (NDDF)led by Mr Henry Ukrakpo; Northern Coalition for Goodluck Presidency (NCGP)led by Abdulrahman Ahmed;   Friends of the South-South led by Alhaji Suleiman Yerima;  Association of Patriotic Nigerians (APN)led by Chief Fredrick Fasheun; Congress for Equality and Change led by Senator Ameh Ebute

The problems facing Nigeria and the political class are how to handle Dr. Jonathan’s political interest and future and that of his party and the nation in general. Will Nigeria survive the schemings associated with the political ambition of Dr. Jonathan. The intriguing scenario is interesting to Nigerians at home and abroad.

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