Jonathan, on Tuesday, November 12, 2014, stood to be counted by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2015 presidential election when he formally declared his intention to re-contest the election to the admiration of jubilant party faithful at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
“After seeking the face of God, in quiet reflection with my family and having listened to the call of our people nationwide to run, 1, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, have accepted to re-present myself on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party for the re-election as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2015 general elections,” the man of the moment, with these words, offered himself to the party for the second time after his party have zeroed on him as a presidential candidate.
The declaration of Jonathan provided an opportunity for him to showcase his strengths (achievements) against his weaknesses. Jonathan’s admission that corruption remained a stain on his administration may not border the people so much, but what he is doing to stem the tide. He reflected on the past and looked into the future. “I am convinced that I have served my past with Nigerians and it’s now time to look into the future. With your tremendous support, we have collectively done so much in the last three and a half years. But to take our country to the next level, there is still more work to be done,” Jonathan said: a statement that boosted his conscience and his preparation to launch Nigeria to greater development despite threats to national growth.
All Progressives Congress (APC), for sure may be disappointed when Jonathan reminded critics of his administration that “History has shown that the path of honours of a true leader is not to walk away from his people in the face of challenges.” But with a strong character, he said “we must stand together in adversary and overcome the threat to our development. We must defend our future,” apparently referring to insurgency that has taken a toll on the nation’s peace and pride.
Jonathan’s score card in education, power, aviation, water, agriculture, transport, port reforms, health, housing as well as oil and gas sectors, and his promise to do more if given another chance at the Presidency, kept the crowd that defied the scorching sun at the occasion, yelling for a man (Jonathan) whom Vice President Namadi Sambo is convinced is a “blessing to Nigeria.”
The Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, though acknowledged that the road to 2015 will be rough, is optimistic that “at the end of the tunnel, victory will be yours and the PDP,” adding that “those who are behind you are more than those that are against you” and in 2015, Nigerians will speak for him (Jonathan).
PDP leaders in some geo-political zones expressed confidence and capacity of Jonathan to deliver more on his transformation agenda to the delight of the citizenry. Erstwhile governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili said, the South-South had absolute trust and confidence in the capacity and capability of Jonathan to make Nigeria a better country. Prof. Jerry Gana, who spoke on behalf of the people of the North Central, described Jonathan as a catalyst for development.
Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, on behalf of PDP supporters in the South East, said the success recorded so far by Jonathan’s administration demanded continuity. Alhaji Hassan Adamu (North-East Zone) scored Jonathan high especially in boosting education in the region with the approval of universities in Potiskum and Wukari, building of almajiri schools as well as connecting the region with rail trucks from Bauchi. Chief Bode George of the South West, however, reflected on the prophecy of their late leader, Pa Obafemi Awolowo, who had predicted that one day, an ijaw man would be the president of the country.
Though security challenge is the pain in the neck of Jonathan’s administration, Akpabio said “we will never be intimidated,” and likened Jonathan to David in the bible who is “fighting all the wars today so that future presidents in Nigeria will have peace.” Senate President, David Mark, who spoke on behalf of PDP lawmakers, however, urged the president to bring the issue of terrorism to an end.
True, there are misgivings about Jonathan and his party, but according to Niyi Akinnaso, “no matter how much we may hate the PDP and abhor Joanthan’s records, neither the party nor Jonathan could be written off completely.”
Writing on The Punch of Tuesday, October 14, 2014 under the title “Why Jonathan May Win Re-election,” Akinnaso said “since electoral politics is about the strategies and manoeuvres employed to win votes, there are three things Jonathan and the PDP have done that could be considered electorally smart. We may not like them at all, but they could eventually translate into victory.”
One of the things, according to Akinnaso, is that the perceived opponents of the party leadership were pushed out and those who would toe the President’s line were wooed into the party, even after they had left it.
The edging out of erstwhile controversial chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur, also went along way to douse the tension in the party and reshaped it for electoral exploits. The fallout of that move was the unanimous endorsement of Jonathan’s candidacy, Akinnaso says.
The third issue, is a well-choreographed series of political adverts, including TV commercials, billboards and other promotional activities which portray Jonathan’s achievements and to which the public has been inundated with. Then, of course, the stomach infrastructure widely adopted by the PDP to catch millions of electorate who are willing to respond to the power of stomach politics; that is, if they are willing to toe the PDP line or respond to primordial tribal or religious politics or better still, the candidates likeability.
Jonathan’s approach to leadership may be misconstrued to mean weakness, yet APC’s inability to provide alternative to the president’s perceived weak policy has made the people to hold on to what they believe that “the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know,” apparently because they do not believe that there is merit in the planned change of APC.
While Sabella Abidde (The Punch, September 24, 2014) queries what is the problem with the APC, Akinnaso, in the aforementioned write-up believes “For now, the APC’s failures are Jonathan’s gains,” adding that “the gains will multiply, if the APC come out bruised from its presidential primary.”
Already, there are ominous signs that the new APC is likely to run into troubled waters in its presidential primary as the camp of APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has been reportedly pressured by powerful leaders and some Northern clerics to dump its support for Muhammadu Buhari for the party’s presidential candidate and switch same to the presidential aspiration of Speaker Aminu Tambuwal who, with his entry, immediately turned into a major contender for the ticket in which former Vice Presidnt, Atiku Abubakar; Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso of Kano State; Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and newspaper publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah are also contending.
Concerns are high that the religious extremism which PDP tagged Buhari may be injurious to the political outing of the APC in the South if the former head of State emerges as APC candidate. Even more disturbing is the fact that “The APC cannot present itself as a party with an ideology of change and still field a 72-year-old man who probably will want to run two terms that will expire when he is 81,” writes Abimbola Adelakun (The Punch, Thursday October 23, 2014).
In his write-up titled: “Why Buhari May Not Defeat Jonathan,” Adelakun said there is doubt in the mind of Nigerians that “Buhari will have a better run this time around and probably defeat Jonathan.” According to him, Buhari’s candidature may end up producing a boomerang effect that will favour Jonathan.
Those who oppose Buhari do so not necessarily because age is not on his side for lofty visions of nation building or economic ideas and ideals, but essentially and most importantly out of the fact that Buhari is no religious nut, but he is religion himself with large number of devotees.” No wonder, Adelakun concludes that “anybody with such authority over people’s minds should not be tried with the absolutism of power the Nigerian brand of democracy endows on a political leader.”
The entry of Tambuwal into the presidential race of APC may be seen as robust and a welcome development, but his chances to pick the ticket can be anybody’s guess. Unlike Buhari and Atiku that had contested nationwide election, Tambuwal only contested a federal constituency and won with stealing leadership of the House of Representatives.
Even as current permutations may favour Tambuwal to clinch the APC ticket, Osita Okechukwu, a strong loyalist of Buhari, notes that Tambuwal’s entry into APC presidential race “will neither diminish nor cut-off the celestial bond between Buhari and the masses and the middle class of our dear country.”
True, the heat is on in the camp of APC and the house divided against itself cannot stand in the face of undaunting challenge of who, among the contenders, gets the nod at the end of the day without the APC being battered in the process.
Now that the PDP smarted itself out of trouble by endorsing Jonathan for the presidential race, who is APC’s battle axe in the race? Time will tell and the earlier the better because Jonathan who is already at the track has taken off for the race.
Ex-APC National Chairman Tasks Party On Responsive Leadership
Chief John Odigie-oyegun, former National Chairman, All Progressives Congress APC), has charged the party’s leaders to be more progressive and responsive to the people.
He said this at the public presentation of a book”APC’S Litmus Test, Nigerian Democracy and Politics of Change”, written by Dr Salihu Lukman, Director-General, Progressives Congress Forum (PGF) in Abuja, yesterday.
“We are in charge today, a progressive government, a progressive regime, and I think it is proper that we show to the nation that when the people want some degree of change, “we should be responsive to it, we should address it, compromises have to be made, there’s no question about that,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
He added that the APC document on true federalism was still being worked upon before its release.
Odigie-Oyegun said the ideas of people from different parts of the country would be different up to the extent that they would want to go with the proposals in the document.
He said it was however, necessary, vital and mandatory in the interest of the survival of the country that issues regarding federalism were addressed.
“We cannot continue to allow the subject to become something that threatens our nation at any turn.
“So, the earlier we address it, the earlier we show that as a party we are responsive to the feelings of the people, the desires of the people and the wants of the people.
“It becomes easier then, to diffuse the kind of stresses that the nation is passing through today,”Odigie-Oyegun said.
He added that for those at the formation of the APC, the uniqueness of its Constitution and its manifesto promised change was meant by all members with their hearts and beings.
He said unfortunately, the forces of economics had made things not quite the way it was planned.
The APC former national chairman said there was need for the party members to do everything possible to keep it not just alive but very virile.
He added that in spite of general belief, the APC was one party that had put together things that meant hope for the country.
He said the fact that things were bad and people were angry and hungry was not questionable, saying that these were worldwide phenomenon.
Odigie-Oyegun decried the current security challenge in the country.
“It is my hope that we will begin to get control of the security of this nation,” he said.
PDP Rep Harps On Justice, Dialogue To Secure Nigeria
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), House of Representatives member has enjoined Nigerian leaders to tow the path of justice, equity, dialogue, and rule of law in the country.
Rep. Toby Okechukwu, the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, said this in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja to commemorate the Democracy Day
He added that such path would help to arrest worsening insecurity and arrest separatist agitations across the country.
Okechukwu said that opportunities still abound in preserving the nation’s democracy and reconstruct the union to a more workable piece.
He said that June 12 was designated Democracy Day in honour of a symbol of the nation’s democratic struggles, the late Chief MKO Abiola.
He added that Abiola was unjustly denied the opportunity to exercise an overwhelmingly popular mandate handed him by the Nigerian people on June 12 1993, but only to be celebrated at death.
“The greatest debt the governments and leaders of Nigeria owe every part of this country and every Nigerian is a sense of justice and equity according to the letters and spirit of our constitution.
“The golden rule of justice is to do unto others as you would have them to unto you,” he said.
He called on the Federal Government to take conscious steps to do things that would promote national unity and earn it loyalty.
He also called on leaders to be proactive in creating a clement environment for peace to reign to arrest the present security challenges in the country.
Okechukwu commended the leaders of the South East and the Federal Government for the June 11, dialogue in Enugu to deescalate tension in the region.
He stated that it was a right step that should be sustained and replicated nationwide, while wishing Nigerians a happy Democracy Day.
Democracy Day: PDP Lawmakers Wants Observance Of Rule Of Law
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has called for strict observance of the rule of law to improve democratic practice in the country.
The caucus made the call in a statement by its Leader, Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) last Saturday in Abuja.
Chinda called for an environment that would guarantee freedom of speech and standard operations for the fourth estate of the realm.
The lawmaker stressed the need to place greater value on Nigerian lives and for decisive and pragmatic steps to end the avoidable deaths in the country.
He called on the government to restrain the Police and other security agencies from further unleashing violence on unarmed youths and other peaceful protesters.
“They choose to go out and exercise their rights in commemoration of Democracy Day.
“June 12 is a symbol of democratic freedom and supremacy of the people’s power and should be respected by ensuring that all the tenets of democracy are adhered to in all ramifications.
“June 12 is not only about introspection, it is about renewing the commitments of all to the growth of democracy in our dear county.
“It is about ensuring that our country is never again enveloped by darkness, hemmed to the abyss by the sinister forces that threaten our collective rights and freedoms,” he said.
Chinda urged all Nigerians to hold on to democratic principles in spite of the challenges facing the country saying that “good will triumph over evil.”
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