By Mike Ebonugwo, Emma Aziken and Charles Kumolu
Nigerians were last week treated to an unusual spectacle by a cavalcade of umbrella-wielding political campaigners who stormed major streets in the country singing and dancing in cheerful abandon. In Lagos, crowds of curious onlookers jostled to catch glimpses of the campaigners as they joyfully danced and brandished their umbrellas to the accompaniment of music.
It soon emerged that they were participants in a novel programme called the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ward Volunteers Scheme (aka Umbrella Revolution) which was recently flagged off in the 36 state capitals and Abuja Federal Capital Territory. The scheme which was considered innovative, it has emerged, was intended to showcase the landmark achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan preparatory to the 2015 presidential election.
Conceived and promoted by the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation,PCO and the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, in conjunction with Women for Change and Development Initiative, the “Umbrella Revolution” is said to be aimed at raising at least 30million supporters and volunteers for President Jonathan’s re-election across the 8812 wards in Nigeria.
Mr Christian Udechukwu, a director in TAN, said over 40,000 volunteer centers/desks would be established across the country while five personnels are expected to man each ward distributing information materials from PCO and souvenirs from the political advocacy group.
Membership is drawn from select representatives of the state nominated by PDP stakeholders, party chieftains, candidates and ex- governors, serving and former National/state assembly members of the party who were put in charge of this project in each state after a training programme put together for such purpose. These, in turn, recruited and trained another group of volunteers drawn from all councils, wards and senatorial zones in their respective state. They then become the basic local mobilizers with with a table, an umbrella and two chairs assigned to each volunteer. Each electoral ward and streets nationwide was expected to have no fewer than five such volunteers. They were to mount the tables, umbrellas and seats at strategic corners of their areas, and keeps registering all those who turn up. Their personal data, qualification and job experience were to be taken in anticipation of job placements soon, on the first come first served basis. Citizens were advised not to see the scheme as one of those political stunts as the partnering groups are not known for any form of gimmickry but are committed to an improved living standard for all Nigerians, irrespective of social class, gender, creed, tongue or political affiliation.
In Lagos, it was more than an umbrella revolution. Presumably in response to the one million-man march organised recently in the state by the All Progressives Congress, APC, the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, the non-governmental organisation founded by Dr Ifeanyi Ubah which has been in the forefront of canvasing for votes via sustained media campaigns for the re-election of President Jonathan mobilised its members to storm the state for what it termed a mega-rally in support of the President. Prior to the D-Day, TAN members within and outside the state had converged at the organisation’s corporate office in Amuwo Odofin for pre-event briefing and interactive session.
The interactive session which was conducted by top executives of TAN led by its national Vice Chairman, Dr Ubah, featured major stakeholders, including market women, business executives, employers of labour, small, medium employers of labour, tailors association Okada/Keke riders association, taxi/bus drivers association, job seekers, etc.
Speaking at the occasion, Ubah said that the essence of TAN synergising with the about 680 support groups and affiliate bodies and organisations that cut across ethnic nationalities, gender, professional and business groups was to facilitate a smooth and resounding victory for President Jonathan and other PDP candidates in the 2015 general elections.
Dr Ubah who personally supervised the distribution of the volunteer scheme materials at the group’s Amuwo Odofin, Lagos office got a pat on the back from the Lagos state governorship candidate of the PDP, Mr Jimi Agbaje who paid him a moral-boosting visit while the distribution was going on.
The duo later led the party supporters and members on sensitisation/mobilization road show tagged “million-man march” round the various streets of Lagos chanting solidarity songs for Jonathan, Agbaje and all PDP candidates nationwide. They distributed branded souvenirs of t-shirts, face caps, scarfs, mufflers, Hand-fans, balloons and wrappers, etc. they also distributed vote-right cards and the vlunteer forms, etc. The road march ended at the National stadium, Surulere.
Taken to task on why he is investing heavily on President Jonathan’s re-election campaign and what he expects in return, Dr Ubah said his action is informed by the realisation that the re-election of the President is a guarantee of stability and equilibrium of Nigeria as a united and progressive nation.
Dr Ubah described President Jonathan as “a passionate patriot who is committed to the growth and development of the nation”, adding that the President has done so much for the country to deserve another tenure to consolidate and expand them, and that he has achieved so much more than all his predecessors in their first tenures respectively. He described Jonathan as kind-hearted, peace-loving, focused, dedicated and committed to the development of Nigeria, meticulous and caring humane president. That it was because of these outstanding qualities he chose to stake his personal resources to sensitize, mobilize and appeal to the electorate to re-elect him.
“ I am fearless and resolute in my support for Dr Jonathan because of the future of this country and the youths, especially who have never had it so good in any of the administrations preceding the incumbent. There is one thing nobody has said about him, he is the only president that has never sold any of the nation’s oil well, none of his predecessors can claim that.”
Dr Ubah pointed out that most of the opponents of the President are those that are angry because it is no longer business as usual since Dr Jonathan has blocked all the leakages in the nation’s treasury.
TAN, Ubah informed, is into grassroots mobilisation and indepth politicking for all those in positions of leadership across the globe, especially Nigeria.
Dr Ubah who personally supervised the distribution of the volunteer scheme materials at the group’s Amuwo Odofin, Lagos office got a pat on the back from the Lagos state governorship candidate of the PDP, Mr Jimi Agbaje who paid him a moral-boosting visit, Thursday night while the distribution was going on. The duo later led the party supporters and members on sensitization/mobilization road show tagged “million-man march” round the various streets of Lagos chanting solidarity songs for Jonathan, Agbaje and all PDP candidates nationwide. They distributed branded souvenirs of t-shirts, face caps, scarfs, mufflers, Hand-fans, balloons and wrappers, etc. they also distributed vote-right cards and the vlunteer forms, etc. The road march ended at the National stadium, Surulere.