By Henry Umoru & Chris Ochayi
ABUJAâ€”AS the nation anxiously awaits the decision by President Goodluck Jonathan whether to contest the presidential elections or simply step aside, elders and leaders of the South East and the South South geo-political zones of the country, yesterday, in Abuja vowed to work towards the actualization of President Goodluck Jonathan as President in the 2011 elections.
Just as representatives of the geo-political zones were meeting to concretise their work plan, leadership of 1,027 groups supporting the 2011 presidential ambition of President Jonathan, urged the President to declare his intention to run for next yearâ€™s presidency immediately.
The leaders of the South East and the South South geo_political zones met for over six hours at the Asokoro residence of former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark under the aegis of â€œSouth_South Elders and Leaders Forum and Representatives of the South_Eastâ€.
They said it became imperative for them to â€œgive attention more to the issues that unite the people of the South_East and South_South geo_political zones who live contiguously than the issues that divide us because there is no ocean without debrisâ€.
In a communiquÃ© issued at the end of the meeting, the groups also agreed to â€œContinue consultations at a wider forum to address, on sustainable basis, issues of common interest to both geo_political zones; continue to work together to seek the support and endorsement of the entire South East zone for the actualization of President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, in the 2011 elections.â€
It said the groups would continue to â€œhold a meeting of the elders and leaders of the South_South and South East geo_political zones at a no distant date in the South East to discuss core issues such as marginalization, loss of jobs, creation of states and 2015 presidencyâ€.
The communiquÃ© was signed by former Minister of Education, Mrs Chinwe Obaje, ex_Military Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, former Minister of Health, Professor I. C. Madubuike, Engr. Francis Orji. Dr. Osita Ngwu, Senator Chris Ukpabi; Chief Richard Lamai, Professor B.I.C. Ijomah; Brigadier General S.E. Oviawe and Chief Ayakeme Whisky.
The meeting which was also attended by Chief Willy Okeke with former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, had notable politicians from the East such as former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, ex_Governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief Simon Okeke, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Ben Obi, ex-Governor Achike Udenwa, Senator Uche Chukwumerijie, Professor Alphonsus Nwosu, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, among others.
Candidate for election
It would be recalled that the South East zone had, Monday, at a meeting held in Enugu unanimously endorsed President Jonathan as its Presidential candidate for the election.
The CommuniquÃ© read in part, â€œthat there has been a long standing relationship of mutual cooperation, common bond, common support and common understanding between the peoples of the South East and South-South geo-political zones right from pre_independence days.
â€œThat since the end of the civil war in 1970, certain happenings in the country appear to suggest that some people in the country are doomed to play the second fiddle in perpetuity and that relics of gross injustice and inequity still pervade our polity.
â€œThat the high level deprivation and poverty prevalent in the country particularly in the rural communities of the South_South geo-political zone where oil and gas resources are explored and exploited to produce the wealth of the country is a product of deliberate policy of jettisoning the principle of federalism which was practiced at the birth of the Nigerian federation.
â€œThat as creatures of God, all men are created equal and therefore no one is and should be regarded inferior to the other.Â That it is only unity of purpose and common understanding that would guarantee freedom and equal opportunities for all oppressed people of this country.
â€œThat consultations and permutations for the emerging political dispensation in 2011 may not have sufficiently recognized the contributions of the South_East during the constitutional crises that followed the indisposition of late President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™ Adua in November, 2009.
â€œThat the emergence of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a divine call to serve.
â€œThat there has been substantial improvement in electricity power supply and stability in the supply of petroleum products since President Goodluck Jonathan mounted the saddle of leadership.
â€œThe Consultative Meeting resolved to give attention more to the issues that unite the people of the South_East and South_South geo_political zones who live contiguously than the issues that divide us because there is no ocean without debris.â€
1, 027 groups urge Jonathan to declare
Leadership of about 1,027 groups supporting the 2011 presidential ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, urged the President to declare his intention to run for next yearâ€™s presidency immediately.
The coalition, which said that President Jonathan was the most qualified person for the office, also hinged its argument on the fact that he has not only performed well in office but had also made sincere efforts in addressing the challenges facing the country.
A communiquÃ© issued at the end of the groups meeting, and signed by Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gulak, said the groups resolved to commence rallies in all the six geo-political zones and to fund a grand rally in Abuja to ensure that President Jonathan declared early enough.
The communique said the groups fused together to present a common front to drag President Jonathan into Presidential race in next yearâ€™s election.
The communique stated: â€œAn appeal is humbly made to Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to please urgently declare his intention to contest the 2011 Presidential election based on his performance and sincere and committed efforts to address challenges facing our country.
â€œThe 1, 027 groups expressed their unflinching loyalty to President Jonathan and promise to rededicate their support and commitment in the march to move Nigeria positively forward.â€
Gulak said the groups had been constituted into a central coordinating committee and six sub-committees in the six geo-political zones to harmonize their working relationship.
He added that the group also berated northern elder statesmen who were insisting that the North should complete the remaining tenure of late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, by virtue of zoning.
Gulak said the groups urged Adamu Ciroma to give the northern youths a chance to present Goodluck Jonathan, adding that Jonathan was poised to deliver services the nation had been denied in the past.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Alhaji Bala Mohammed told the groups that from the Presidentâ€™s achievements, he now represented the new face of politics in Nigeria.
He said: â€œThe issue of religion should not be at play in selecting our leaders. Jonathan is the realization of the aspiration of our founding fathers, he is a Nigerian par excellence.
We are not antagonistic of those who want to run for the Presidency. We canâ€™t denounce them; but they should give us the opportunity to convince them to join us.
In theÂ above, â€œS/South, S/East agree on Jonathanâ€, we reported that former Senate President Ken Nnamani, ex-governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief Simon Okeke, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Ben Obi, Achike Udenwa, Uche Chukwumerijie, Professor Alphonsus Nwosu, and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume attended the meeting held at Chief Edwin Clarkâ€™s residence in Abuja. We have since discovered that these notable personalities from the South East were not actually at the meeting.
We regret the error.