Determined to compel President Goodluck Jonathan to drop his perceived ambition for a second term in office, promoters of the New PDP embark on a propaganda war which borders on disinformation and fear appeal
| By Olu Ojewale | Oct. 7, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
IT appears there is not going to be any let-up in the propaganda war going on in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The New PDP, a faction in the party, is determined to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential election. On Tuesday, September 24, the faction, perhaps, for the umpteenth time, warned President Jonathan against any plan to contest the next presidential election.
In a statement issued by Chukwuemeka Eze, its national publicity secretary, the New PDP warned that Jonathan’s re-election ambition would not be in the best interest of the country, especially since he had promised not to contest in 2015. The New PDP said although the president has not made a categorical statement about his intention to run, his body language and recent statements had shown that he would like to run.
The statement also said in part: “We are worried that Mr. President is intent on running despite his earlier promise not to do so and in spite of the wise counsel of well-meaning Nigerians, including respected elder statesmen. In February, 2011 while interacting with Nigerians and diplomats working in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union in Ankara, Turkey, President Jonathan clearly stated: ‘I would have loved that the Nigerians in the Diaspora vote this year (2011) but to be frank with you, that is going to be difficult now. Presently, the law does not allow voting outside Nigeria and so this year, Nigerians in the Diaspora will not vote but I will work towards it by 2015 even though I will not be running for election.’ Mr. President went ahead to add, ‘Four years is enough for anyone in power to make significant improvement and if I can’t improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything even if I am there for the next four years.’
“This is a historical fact which Mr. President himself cannot deny now since he had two years to deny that statement but never did so.”
The group therefore, advised the president not to make a U-Turn as that would make him lose respect of Nigerians and the entire world. “Why can he not keep his words as a man of honour instead of allowing himself to be misled by selfish advisers to go back on his words, thereby overheating the polity?” the statement said further. The faction similarly called the attention of Jonathan to the wise counsel given by Ben Nwabueze, a professor of law and senior advocate of Nigeria, and Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, archbishop emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, who visited him in Aso Rock on August 30, and asked him to desist from re-contesting the presidential office.
“We are worried that Mr. President is intent on running despite his earlier promise not to do so and in spite of the wise counsel of well-meaning Nigerians, including respected elder statesmen, advising him to correctly read the handwriting on the wall and stay away from the 2015 presidential race. While saying that by 2015, Jonathan would have been in office for six years, it added that this was enough time for him to achieve whatever he planned for Nigeria,” the group said, adding: “We urge you Mr. President to listen to the voice of reason and avoid overstretching your good luck. A word is enough for the wise.”
Judging from its current argument, it appears the opposition has tactically dropped its claim that the president signed a document with some party leaders that he would only serve for one term. Just about two weeks ago, there was a claim that the agreement which the president signed was with a South-South governor. That claim appears to have failed because the said governor has not come out publicly to tender the document, which perhaps necessitated a change of tactics.
Nevertheless, the pro-Jonathan group has not been resting on its oars either. A group of former governors and governorship candidates on the platform of the PDP under the aegis of Candidates/Former PDP Governors Forum, met in Abuja, on Tuesday, September 24, and resolved that it would be unfair to deny the president the right to seek for another term in office. The group led by Charles Arhiavbere, a retired major general and a former governorship candidate of the PDP in Edo State, appealed to the seven governors opposing President Jonathan to embrace peace and return to the party’s mainstream under the leadership of Bamanga Tukur. In a statement read by Airhiavbere, the group said: “The constitution provides for eight years for every office and I believe that going by natural justice, if there is a tenant in a house and it is going for sale, the first opportunity of refusal should go to the occupant. And I believe that based on the midterm report of the President, we believe that he should be given a second term in office to finish his project. President Jonathan has the right. It has not been published anywhere that he signed an agreement to run for one term. He should be given support and peaceful environment to implement his projects to completion.”
Prominent among those who attended the meeting in Abuja were Damishi Sango, a former minister of sports; Abdulmumuni Aminu, retired colonel and former military governor; Boni Haruna, former governor of Adamawa State; Salimot Badru, former deputy governor of Ogun State; Olusola Oke, former governorship candidate of the PDP in Ondo State; John David Dung, a retired colonel and former military governor, and Donald Iroha, a retired assistant inspector general of Police.
The Presidency, in its reaction to the New PDP warning, vowed on Tuesday that nobody or group of individuals, including the faction, was capable to stop Jonathan if he decided to contest the 2015 election. Ahmed Gulak, special adviser to the president on political matters, said that unrealisable ambition had blinded members of the New PDP to the extent that they were no longer aware that Nigeria was governed by the rule of law.
“The Abubakar Baraje group (New PDP) is an outlaw as far as the law of this country is concerned. The country is governed by law. As far as I am concerned, there is no political crisis in the country. It is a group of few people with unrealisable ambitions that are blinded to the fact that there is a Constitution and there is an Electoral Act. These people, supported by the media, are the ones making a storm out of a tea cup,” Gulak said, adding that stopping Jonathan from contesting would be unconstitutional and illegal.
Speaking in the same vein, Ibrahim Jalo, deputy national publicity secretary of the Tukur-led PDP, said that it was wrong to equate what the president said in New York, to mean a declaration of intent to run in 2015. “The President has not said he is running in 2015 even though it is his right to do so. The president said the constitution allows him to run for second term; that is correct. But let me say that the President still stands by his statement that he would let Nigerians know if he would be running for second term or not by 2014,” Jalo said.