National Chairman Goodluck Jonathan Support Group, Peter Biakpara, speaks on why his group is urging President Goodluck Jonathan to run for presidency. EXCERPTS:

The popular view in some quarters is that the current bandwagon for President Goodluck Jonathan must run is purely politics of the stomach. Is this correct representation of your groups agitation?

Our group is very different from all others you have seen who are agitating fo ther Jonathan presidency.

I said it because this group is a child of another group which existed in 2007 as Yar’Adua/ Goodluck support which canvassed for their support during the campaign in all parts of Nigeria and also wrote a book 110 Reasons why Nigeria’s must vote  Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

So, you can see it’s not something that started for Jonathan per se. It is a role up of what we have done in 2007. I was the vice chairman of Yar’Adua/ Goodluck Jonathan support group. Having said tha, t what are the other differences to show that we are not just doing it as a business for the stomach.

Probably we need to know the pedigree of some of those who are not running for any position, even though. I am not riding on Jonathan to achieve my aim. I am a  retired  military officer with a pension, member of two federal boards. I already have enough for my stomach.

If an offer is made to you, will you reject it?

Why will I reject it? I will accept it. Anything given to me is a challenge for me to serve.

I don’t know why we are talking about that. What we are focused on is getting Goodluck Jonathan  to run and not just for the love of  Jonathan but for the love of Nigeria because we want to make sure that Nigeria is governed by the right person at  the right time. At the moment, Jonathan is the right person.

You insist he must run. Has your group considered an alternative candidate if President Goodluck Jonathan declines to run?

It will be difficult for me to say we have alternative, because if I say yes that means we are not focused. We have assessed the man Jonathan from all aspects,  both him as a person, where he is coming from, the age group his antecedent and all that.

So, it will be difficult to find an alternative. Let me tell you the advantage that Jonathan has and others did not have. Jonathan is in Gombe. He is sitting right there and you know the power of incumbency in politics anywhere in the world.

In America, the sitting President has the right to say no before any other person. The sitting officer has the right to say no before it is thrown open to the house. Jonathan is the one on the seat,    that makes him more qualified than any other person.

We don’t have another alternative and I don’t think he will say no.

What are the specific steps your group has taken so far to sell President Gooluck Jonathan candidacy beyond the confines of the PDP?

Yes, the book we are writing is going to be offered free to all Nigeria’s Why Goodluck Jonathan must run and be voted for. So we are not selling it to PDP members.

This group actually assumes that PDP has the best candidate in Jonathan. So, we don’t need to preach to them about Jonathan.  We are more concerned about loyalty of Nigerians, and most especially the other parties to accept Jonathan when he runs to vote him in.

So,  that is why the book is divided into parts. The first part which will be published very soon is convincing Nigerians to urge Jonathan to run, and inside it convincing Jonathan that he should run. Then the part which will contain 50 reasons is to convince Nigerians to vote him. That is how the programme is set.

How does Goodluck Jonathan Presidency impact on the peace process in the Niger Delta?

Jonathan is a Niger Deltan he knows the boys. The boys know him. So, to tell the truth, we were very surprised at how President Yaradua took up this Amnesty programme.

If Nigerians truly believe that solution to Niger Delta Problem is also the survival of this country which I believe it is, I think they should allow Jonathan after this one year, try him for 2011 for four years and see how Nigeria will change.

For non members of the PDP, what will Jonathan Presidency beyond his current tenure bring to Nigerians?

Peace, that is paramount which will reflect in many ways across the country. Prosperity, international respect. You see before Jonathan came on board, President Obama came to Africa.

Today, if Obama decides to come to Africa, he will first come to Nigeria before any other place. The other thing that goes beyond what we are seeing is if Jonathan is allowed to contest in 2011, what will come to Nigeria is that sense of belonging of having a country.

You  know Nigeria before now is a country of geographical expression. But you will see, it will start to manifest gradually that Nigeria is a nation which you are first of all proud of before you think of your ethnic group.  So having a nation is one of the things you are going to have.

It has been suggested in some quarters that President Goodluck Jonathan running in the 2011 will present a moral dilemma. Is your group concerned about this?

I don’t know what moral dilemma you are talking about. Is it moral dilemma that says somebody is going to be killed before he gets there. I don’t understand the moral dilemma you are talking about. But if you are talking about the zone, zoning  from the argument on the pages of the newspaper?

That moral dilemma does not even exist because if more people are for a particular thing, then what morals are we talking about?

If you read through the pages of newspaper, only a tiny elements are talking about using zoning, as far as am concerned, there is no moral dilemma in this  matter.

Your group appears to be concerned only about Presidential candidate in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan. What about other candidates who may play an important role in the success or failure of his Presidency if he wins in the 2011 general elections?

Well, when I see people talk about Sambo, by now I just know they are not politicians. As a politician,  Jonathan is alone until after the primary. But that does not mean that we are not looking that if he runs who are we going to match up with him.

Politics is about strategies. We have to strategise on how to capture the votes and to capture the votes, you use some people’s sentiments and aspiration and all that.

So definitely if Jonathan is running, we will have to match him with somebody that will satisfy another section of the country so that more votes will come. It will not be wise for example to take Jonathan and then another South South person to run.

If people are talking about zoning in that manner, it will be okay. Once Jonathan comes out, of course, you will now talk about zoning. The Vice President should be given to another part of the country. Zoning should be spoken about in that respect, not even before the person runs you talk about zoning.  I think that does not make sense.

Is your group making any efforts to reach President Goodluck Jonathan?

That is exactly what we are doing. Of course from day one we cannot run to him. We have to do our home work on it. All these publications and prints we are doing is our homework. We are not just doing it alone. We are also mobilizing Nigerians to the extent that he Jonathan see that he has no option but to run. So it is a gradual process.

Who are those behind the success of your group?

All those who love this country Nigeria to survive as a political entity. I will read the dedication of my book to you then you will understand who are the people behind this business. “ The book is dedicated to all lovers of democracy who believe in equity, justice and equity. To all those who believe in corporate existence and survival of Nigeria as a political entity

The pioneers of Nigeria’s independent Dr. Nnadi Azikwe, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji  Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The book is also dedicated to all lovers of democracy, M.K.O Abiola, his wife Kudira, General Shehu Musa Yar ‘Adua who lost their lives in the struggle for Democracy in Nigeria.

And of course, there are people who are living in Nigeria who also imbibe that same spirit.

Who are your sponsors?

A few people have contributed a lot to the growth of this group. In our next publication, we promise to publish the National officers and coordinators and any other person that contributed to this baby group.

Disclaimer

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