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.
The president is yet to announce his plan to run for another term, but his recent speech in New York, United States, seems to have re-energised the opposition to intensify its campaign to stop him ahead of 2015 election. Jonathan said in New York on Monday, September 23, that the Nigerian constitution provides for “maximum of eight years for anyone who wants to become a president or a governor.” To his opponents, that was an indication that he plans to run. And to the opposition, the president must be stopped at all cost. To achieve that, it appears that opponents of the president would stop at nothing to discredit his government.
The president’s trip to the US to attend the United Nations’ 68th General Assembly has equally produced another round of recrimination from the opposition. An online publication, not Realnews, alleged that the president led a delegation of 600 government officials to the conference. According to the publication, the delegation included “two state governors and the first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan. Most members of the delegation are 547 civil servants drawn from ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, as well as an advance team members who arrived in New York earlier to make preparations for the trip of the president. The Nigerian delegation is by far the largest of any nation at this year’s UN event, the theme of which is: ‘Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage.”
But the presidency, on Sunday, September 22, dismissed the report as untrue and baseless. Reuben Abati, special assistant to the president on media and publicity, said in a statement that attacks on the Jonathan administration were regrettable. “The truth is that less than 30 persons arrived in New York with the President this morning as members of his entourage. Besides, the only other persons who are in New York for the UN General Assembly with the president’s knowledge and approval are relevant ministers and few essential aides,” Abati said. The presidential spokesman insisted that the president’s official delegation was not out of “proportion with Nigeria’s size, role and relevance in Africa and the global community,” and that the claim that it was the largest delegation at the UN General Assembly was an unjustifiable fabrication.
Anietie Okon, a former senator and founding member of the PDP, in a newspaper interview, said that the crisis in the party was the result of tension that had been building up within because of its enormous internal combustion capacity. “We are going through the normal throes and birth pains of a rebirth in the party which seems to challenge the comfort redoubt of some elements in the party. It would have been business as usual for them to just tell Mr. President that we don’t want you to do a second term but because the party is evolving and increasingly embracing the virtues of transparency in the conduct of its business, they are more or less miffed, outraged and frustrated by the direction the party is now taking towards dismantling the normal supremacy and prevalence and reach of strongholds whose modules could not fit into the new open and transparent manner of doing the party’s business,” Okon said. The party leader said the aim of the opposition was to create an impression within the party and in the whole country that there was resentment against President Jonathan running for a second term.
Okon agreed that Jonathan was right not to have come clean about his intention to contest for a second term. “Sometime in 2014 will be a nice, proper and descent time for him to announce that because at that time, he will place before the people of the country his score-card, which is so far, encouraging and impressive. It will be left for the people to determine who continues in 2015,” he said. But whether the rage of the opposition will not force his hand before that time is another thing. However, from the look of things, the campaign to rubbish his achievements and deny him a second term bid is fast gaining a momentum. As far as the G7 governors are concerned, Jonathan’s re-election will break Nigeria. That is their latest campaign of fear appeal.