2015: Jonathan under fire for early campaign
•PDP disowns campaigners •It’s callous, insensitive, says APC
President Goodluck Jonathan came under fire yesterday for jumping the gun in the 2015 race.
Although the President is yet to speak on his political future, his party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – has held some “unity rallies”.
Such rallies were held in Bauchi (Northeast), Kano (Northwest) and Enugu (Southeast) before they were suspended, following criticisms.
After a brief lull, the campaigns may have reopened, with a new group, the GEJITES, displaying customised vehicles and giant electronic billboards at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, where the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners have been meeting.
The expensive billboards are believed to be meant to cast a shadow on the protest.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), the United Peoples Party (UPP), some politicians, lawyers and some opinion leaders, chided the Jonathan campaigners for their action and Dr. Jonathan for looking the other way.
The UPP said given the state of the nation, the President would face the consequences if he went ahead to declare his intention to run again.
But the PDP said it had nothing to do with the campaign by the group, which Second Republic Governor Balarabe Musadescribed as flouting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rules.
Leader of the #BringBackOurGirls protesters Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili said the group had never been bothered by the competition for space from the various groups campaigning for Jonathan’s re-election.
Mrs. Ezekwesili, reacting to the seeming attempt by the pro-Jonathan groups to take the shine off the protests, said: “The trucks and billboards of the pro-Jonathan campaigners have always been there. As a matter of fact, they came to station the trucks and billboards at the venue a few weeks after we started gathering at the Unity Fountain.
“But we are not bothered by their presence at the venue. As far as we are concerned, the Unity Fountain is a public place and it should be open to everybody that wants to make use of it.
“All we ask for is the right to peaceful assembly by our members, as guaranteed by the Constitution. What we will continue to kick against is a situation where one Commissioner of Police would wake up one day to say he has banned peaceful protests over the Chibok girls.”
PDP National Publicity Secretary Chief Olisa Metuh insisted that the party had never been involved in any of the activities of pro-Jonathan groups.
Metuh who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said: “The PDP has nothing to do with the activities of such groups. As a matter of fact, we are not even aware of such groups.
“I believe the organisers of the groups are in the best position to comment on their activities and why they decided to choose the venue for their activities. I do not know any of them”.
Founder and National Chairman Chief Chekwas Okorie said Jonathan might have to weigh his options clearly before taking the plunge. He noted that the President could no longer take the people’s support for granted, particularly the people of the Southeast.
Elder statesman and politician Alhaji Tanko Yakassai believes Jonathan reserves the right to decide when to announce his plan for 2015.
Yakassai argued that there was a time for declaration of interest by individual candidates, time for the other processes that would lead to the primaries and the emergence of candidates and time for the commencement of campaigns. He is sure that Jonathan is aware of the position of the electoral law on the processes.
He said irrespective of the security situation in the country President Jonathan’s declaration at any time would not go down well with everybody.
Second Republic governor Musa objected to the activities of supporters drumming support for the President’s second term bid.
Noting that the time is not ripe for any subtle campaign, he said the campaigners were flouting the rules of the game.
His words: “The INEC has not lifted the ban on campaigns. The INEC has not declared that campaigns for the 2015 elections should start. It is not good for the President to allow the people to campaign for him.
“The implication is that he does not respect the rules of INEC. He is indifferent to the law of the INEC and he is inviting everyone to do the same.”
Former Minister of Petroleum Resources Prof. Tam David-West said President Jonathan ought not to contest for a second term.
He said Dr. Jonathan signed an agreement with the North before the 2011 elections to serve for one term and that he had no moral right to declare his intention for another term.
“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has confirmed it and Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, who is in possession of the document has also confirmed it. He has a moral duty not to contest,” the university teacher said.
To David-West, the President’s performance in the last four years is woeful and as such he does not have the credentials to ask for another term of four years. “Let him search his conscience to find out whether he has done well in his first term. As for me, the answer is no. So, let him spare Nigerians the agony of another four years of Jonathan. All the people that are urging him on are sycophants; Jonathan’s coming back is good for them because they would continue to get their sycophantic pay. We have not heard a credible rebuttal to the accusation that he agreed to do one term.
“He has not got much to build on in a second term; education is dying, the economy is dying, and for the first time in the history of Nigeria, we are having problems with our oil industry. Eighty-five per cent of Nigeria’s annual budget is based on oil revenue, but now our petroleum industry is in trouble because America, which used to buy about 55 per cent of our oil is walking away from us.”
Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN)said every Nigerian, including the President, has the constitutional right to start campaigning for the 2015 elections.
On whether the time is right or not, the legal icon said that should be left to INEC to decide.
“If Jonathan has breached the electoral rule, INEC should sanction him. But INEC has not prescribed any sanction. Let’s leave the issue for the electoral commission to handle,” he added.
Civil rights activist Moshood Erubami aligned with Akintola’s position. He said the President has the right to start campaigning, adding: “Under normal circumstance, this is the right time”.
Erubami said: “It is for him to say he wants to contest, it is another thing for people to reject him. Anyway, we are waiting to see what his campaign issue will be and how he will convince people to vote for him”.
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