By John Bulus
EVEN though Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State had caught another jaw in the controversy surrounding President Goodluck Jonathan’s alleged intent for a second term in 2015, the number one citizen has rather chosen to concentrate on his job rather than clearing the air. Vanguard Saturday’s JOHN BULUS in this piece analyses the danger of the seeming elongated silence.
“We wish to state categorically that this is neither the time nor the season to begin electioneering campaign or related discourse for the 2015 presidential elections and so, President Goodluck Jonathan will not jump the gun. Mr. President will therefore stoutly resist any disguised or open attempt to drag him into any debates, arguments or political discussions relating to a presidential election in 2015”.
With these words, Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs on Wednesday dashed the hope of many Nigerians who had hoped to hear from President Jonathan in another round of provocation of thoughts on whether he entertains a two-term rule ambition in 2015.
To some people, that was being smart while to others, it smacks some theatrical garb. But to Jonathan’s critics and anti Jonathan’s 2015 ambition, Okupe’s defense of his master was devoid of courtesy to Nigerians who in the first place, elected Jonathan as their President in 2011. To them, President Jonathan even though he has a duty to perform still owes Nigerian the obligations of declaring his stand on the 2015 controversy.
Indeed, for months now, talks about whether the President will seek re-election in 2015 have reached a crescendo yet the President has continued to maintain what critical analysts referred to as “vexing silence”. In fact, more vexing is the fact that each passing day literally heralds one or two events that bring President Jonathan closer to the ring of contest. And when an opportunity presented itself for the President to line issues, he failed. Instead, chose to play politics.
But there have been arguments and counter-arguments over 2015 in the past, many however believe that none has been as sensitive as the “bombshell” dropped by the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu on Sunday on the issue. Aliyu during a Radio programme “Guest of the Week”, aired on Liberty Radio 91.7, Abuja said that governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) signed pact of one term for Jonathan in 2011. And with the governor, like a gadfly provoked a thought and seeming touched some raw nerves.
According to him: “I recall that at the time he was going to declare for the 2011 election, all the PDP governors were brought together to ensure that we were all in the same frame of mind. “And I recall that some of us said that, given the circumstances of the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua and given the PDP zoning arrangement, it was expected that the North was to produce the president for a given number of years.
“I recall that at that discussion, it was agreed that Jonathan would serve only one term of four years and we all signed the agreement. Even when Jonathan went to Kampala , in Uganda , he also said he was going to serve a single term.
“For now, President Jonathan has not declared a second term ambition and we must not be speculating based on those who are benefiting from the campaign. I think we are all gentlemen enough; so when the time comes, we will all come together and see what is the right thing to do”.
According to analysts, this frontal statement is most sensitive of all issues surrounding 2015 and as such deserves either outright refutal or admission. But to the consternation of Nigerians, the Presidency, they said, played to the gallery and side-stepped the statement.
Hear Okupe’s further defence on the issue. “Mr. President will therefore stoutly resist any disguised or open attempt to drag him into any debates, arguments or political discussions relating to a presidential election in 2015”.
Groups gathering for Jonathan in 2015
Like the days preceding the keenly contested primary election of PDP and the presidential contest in 2011, the polity is heating up again with various interest groups initiating moves for a Jonathan’s presidency in 2015 even when the President has not categorically said he would run.
Allow Jonathan enjoy his democratic rights – Dr. Frederick Fasehun, the President of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).
Leading a delegation of the OPC on a visit to Mr Kingsley Kuku, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Fasehun on Thursday said in Abuja that President Jonathan should be allowed to “enjoy his democratic rights”
“We fought for the democracy. Democracy is a pervasive commitment and the President has his democratic rights to enjoy. I think Nigerians should allow him to enjoy his democratic rights by standing election in 2015. I agree that he should be allowed to enjoy his democratic rights.
“And if Nigerians think he has brought peace. He has encouraged growth and progress, they should give him another chance to continue,” the OPC boss said.
PDP women drum support for Jonathan’s presidency
PDP National Woman Leader, Mrs Kema Chikwe at a presentation and launch of the PDP Women in Power calendar on Thursday in Abuja said expressed hope that President Jonathan will return to power in 2015 to give women more political positions.
“We are confident that when President Jonathan returns in 2015, women would be talking about 50 per cent, no longer 35 per cent affirmative action.
“As we give him unequivocal, undiluted, unreserved support and as we match with him to 2015, PDP women will reach the promise land,” Chikwe said.
Jonathan /Sambo Solidarity Forum Home and Abroad (JSSFHA)
In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday and jointly signed by the national President and secretary of the group, Hon. Franklin Ekong, and Mr. Idoko Hilary Nduka, the group explained President Jonathan should go for a second as president in office.
“We want to call on Nigerians to join hands with this God giving leader to transform Nigeria rather than trying to engage Mr. President in uninteresting, wasteful arguments that are uncalled for. “It is our desire as a group to advise good people of Nigeria to disregard any arguments that is of personal or group interest that President Jonathan agreed to do one term,” the statement reads.
We can’t be intimidated –Asari Dokubo
On his facebook page, Alhaji Dokubo Asari on Thursday said that President Jonathan does not have the right to sign off the constitutional right of the people of south- south.
“GEAJ does not have right to sign off the constitutional right of the people of the south-south to have to have the presidency for two terms…he cannot and no sane south southerner will allow him to do that. This is not an issue of integrity…the issue is the right of a whole region…we cannot be intimidated or cajoled to accept such perfidy”, he said.
Meanwhile, as 2015 inches close, it is left to be seen whether President Jonathan will fly the flag of his party, the PDP and square up in another round of contest with whosoever that emerges the Presidential candidate from the leading opposition parties which have fused to form All Progressive Congress (APC).