By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Clifford Ndujihe & Henry UMORU
LAGOS—Leading officials of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are in fresh moves to push President Goodluck Jonathan through a rancour-free contest for the party’s ticket for the 2015 presidential election.

The party apparatchik that had earlier proposed the adoption of a right of first refusal for the president and governors are now proposing a double-phased convention to accommodate the concerns of party members aggrieved at the earlier proposal of the right of first refusal.

Among those in strong opposition to the right of first refusal are some two-term governors from the North and former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar.

ANENIH @ 80—President Goodluck Jonathan flanked by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan (2r) and Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Chairman PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih and his wife, Mrs. Anenih (l) watch after a Holy Mass celebrated to mark Chief Anenih's 80th birthday at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Garki, Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.
ANENIH @ 80—President Goodluck Jonathan flanked by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan (2r) and Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Chairman PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih and his wife, Mrs. Anenih (l) watch after a Holy Mass celebrated to mark Chief Anenih’s 80th birthday at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Garki, Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.

Suggestive of his perceptions of the alleged moves to turn the scale in the president’s favour, Atiku has written the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur over his exclusion from the Adamawa State delegates list for the party’s mini convention. He said it could be part of  a plot to push him out of the party.

In the new move being pushed by party leaders, President Jonathan and first term governors desiring a second term would be considered for a referendum on their achievements in the first term before a party convention. As part of the referendum, delegates to the party convention would be asked to affirm a yea or nay on the president’s performance upon which he would be adopted as the party’s consensus candidate.

Should the president fail to get a majority in the referendum, a second convention would be called within one month in which all interested presidential aspirants in the party would be subjected to a contest that would also include the president as a candidate.

The right of first refusal for the president in 2015 was first openly canvassed by the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Anthony Anenih last May at a meeting of PDP South-South chieftains in Asaba, Delta State.

“I do not see anything wrong, if the PDP considers automatic tickets for the President and its governors who have performed well and are seeking for a second term,” Anenih had said at that meeting.

The proposal immediately ran into a storm with Northern stakeholders, including Atiku, raising objections. This led to the fresh proposal.

Anenih, it was learnt, is equally supportive of the fresh amendment and is vigorously pushing it.

In line with that fresh push, Anenih working in cahoots with senior presidency officials are pushing Federal Government officials to vigorously sell the achievements of the Jonathan administration in various sectors.

Towards this end, the administration would in few weeks commence a media blitz of the achievements of the Jonathan administration to sell the performance of the government.

Atiku protests, writes Tukur

Meanwhile, Atiku has written Tukur on his non-inclusion in the list of delegates for the party’s forthcoming convention.

In the letter dated July 11, 2013 obtained by Vanguard, Atiku said he had waited without a response from the party on his reported exclusion despite its publication by a national daily.

“After waiting for a public statement from the party, correcting or refuting the abnormality in vain, I decided to draw your attention to this mistake. You may recall, Mr. Chairman, that section 8, sub section 8 (b) of the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, 2012 as amended, states that “a person who desires to rejoin the party after leaving it, unless given a waiver by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of our Party, be placed on probation for a period of not less than one year.”

Noting the approval the NEC gave him on September 15, 2010 to rejoin the party and upon which he contested the 2011 presidential primary, Atiku said:
”It is in this regard, that I consider the omission of my name as a mistake since it contradicts Section 32 sub section 1 (a) of our Party constitution which states that the Board of Trustees members of our Party shall consist of “all past and serving Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who held or hold the respective posts as members of the Party and who are still members of the Party.

“As a bonafide member of our party, I look forward to the respect and privileges conferred on the office of the Vice President and founding fathers of the party by our party constitution. I, therefore, request for a correction and restitution of my right to attend the forthcoming special national convention of our great party and also membership of the Board of Trustees.”

Atiku’s associates, it was learnt, are working on the theory that the exclusion from the delegates list for Adamawa State may be part of a plot to exclude him from the presidential contest.

South-South leaders endorse Jonathan

Meanwhile, elder statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark and some South-South leaders, weekend, advanced quantum achievements by Jonathan since he came to power as why he should go for a second term.

Besides the achievements in various sectors, they said the president had carried on as a detribalized Nigerian without favouritism or subverting the Nigerian constitution for any sectional interest.

The leaders, who included Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State; former Minister of State (Education), Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi; former Presidential Spokesman, Olorogun Ima Niboro; Urhobo Leader, Chief Ighoyota Amori among others, spoke at a rally held at Sapele Athletics Club, Sapele, Delta State.

The rally was organized by Gbagi to unite the Urhobo nation in Delta Central Senatorial District and mobilize support for President Jonathan’s transformation agenda.

Clark, who was represented by Chief Godwin Ogbetuo, Chairman, Delta Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders Forum, urged the North to back Jonathan’s re-election in view of past political alliances between the South-South and the North.

“Considering the good political alliance between the South-South and the core North in the pre-independence constitutional conferences also in the First and Second republics, supporting the South-South aspiration in President Jonathan come 2015 is like payback time for the support of the region for the North in the past,” Clark said.”

“The South-South geo-political zone of which Delta State is a part; holds President Jonathan, who is our illustrious son, in highest esteem. We are very proud of him because of his great accomplishments in all facets of human, economic, political and social development. He enjoys our support because of the uncommon transformation, ordinary masses, which are not blind-folded by pi-partisan politics, regional or tribal considerations are experiencing under his Presidency.

“These Nigerians are not interested in the politics of where the President comes from, or a president based on ethnic, regional or religious background. The President they want is a leader, who will give them food on their table, good education to prepare them for leadership and revival of our decaying infrastructures to sustain our harmony as a nation. This is what President Jonathan is doing since becoming President.”

He continued: “The South-South will support President Jonathan for 2015 because as a minority he is detribalized and had carried on as president without favoritism or subverting the Nigerian constitution for any sectional interest. President Jonathan sees every Nigerian irrespective of where he comes from, religious background, economic or political base as one united entity. The president today is a unity bridge that binds the South and the North together.”

Governor Uduaghan, who was represented by Delta State Commissioner for Housing, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, assured the president that Delta State, the Urhobo, the PDP in Delta had resolved to work for total victory for him and the PDP in 2015.

He commended the president on the transformation agenda, which he said had yielded results in critical sectors like transportation, power, education, physical development, social amenities and job provision.

He pledged the full support of Delta for President Jonathan because of his economy-boosting programme, curtailing of Boko Haram insurgency, upgrading of the Petroleum Training Institute, Effurum, to a full-fledged university among others.

On his part, Gbagi said it was sad that a section of the country, which believed that it had the birthright to rule Nigeria had a laid a siege on the president.

“It is Jonathan or nothing in 2015. We have been having presidents from other parts of the country in the past. None of them was asked to terminate his tenure in his first term. It is an insult to the South-South zone to ask Jonathan not to run for second term,” he said.


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