2015: Waiting for Mr. President’s declaration
President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan’s official declaration of intention to run for a second term in 2015 is the most-awaited event in Nigeria’s political space, ALLWELL OKPI writes
The build-up to the presidential election in 2015 is no doubt the most intriguing political development in the country.
From the demands by different geopolitical zones to the machination by the opposition political parties and the internal rumblings in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, the question is; who would secure the right to occupy Aso Rock after the election?
While the calculations have continued unabated, one thing that most politicians and political organisations have been waiting for is President Goodluck Jonathan’s official declaration of intention to contest or not to contest the 2015 election.
Though the President has promised to announce his stand in 2014, the suspense created by his delay has not only heated up the polity, it has also delayed the declaration of others who nurse the ambition to be President.
This is obvious from the fact that none of those who have shown interest in the Presidency, have not been bold enough to declare their stand.
The National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Olisa Metuh, told SUNDAY PUNCH, that neither Jonathan nor any other party member had informed the party about intention to run for the Presidency.
Metuh said the party had not released the guidelines for the 2015 election, adding that “for now, everybody has the right to say he is running for any office and can declare his intention.”
He said, “INEC has not signalled that politicians can start politicking publicly and the party has not released the guidelines. Anybody who wants to be President should be mobilising support underground.
“Nobody has indicated interest in running for the Presidency. INEC has not ruled and the party has not decided on it. For now, we are committed to governance; issues that will affect the ordinary Nigerian. We are focused on moving the country forward.”
During the Presidential Media Chat in Abuja last Sunday, Jonathan, apparently in an attempt to downplay the impact of the suspense said the fact that he had not declared his position did not mean that those interested in the presidency could not start work.
He insisted that it was too early to declare his intention, saying doing so now would violate the Electoral Act, which stipulates a time frame for such declarations.
Even though some believe that Jonathan’s popularity has paled in the face of unresolved security challenges, high rates of poverty and unemployment, as well as near comatose health and education sectors, he still remains the man to beat, should he seek re-election.
Due to this, those opposed to him have employed diverse strategies to dissuade or perhaps disqualify him from contesting in 2015.
Some, particularly, from the North want Jonathan, a southerner, out of the game because they want the Presidency to return to the region.
Major opposition parties, now under one umbrella – the All Progressives Congress, want Jonathan out of Aso Rock, largely because they are opposed to his party, the PDP’s continued reign, having been in charge of the Federal Government in the past 14 years.
APC and others have viciously attacked Jonathan’s political structure.
One of the arguments was that if Jonathan contests in 2015, he would be seeking a third term, and not second.
To press that, a chieftain of the PDP, Mr. Cyracus Njoku, had in 2012 asked an Abuja High Court to declare Jonathan ineligible for re-election in 2015, claiming that Jonathan served his first term when he completed the tenure of former President Umar Yar’ Adua, who died in office.
The court, however, in March this year, ruled that Jonathan is currently serving his first term, hence eligible for a second term.
Another effort towards stopping Jonathan has been spearheaded by the Chairman, Northern State Governors’ Forum, and Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, who has consistently claimed that the President signed a pact with them that he would serve only one term.
Reacting to that for the umpteenth time, Jonathan during the last media chat, said “I did not say I will contest or not. Those who said I have signed an agreement should show the agreement.”
Though he has avoided discussing his 2015 ambition, for fear of heating up the polity, some political analysts, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH, said all indices on ground showed that Jonathan had the intention to contest.
The Head of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Lagos, Prof. Solomon Akinboye, said the President’s denial of the supposed one-term pact and insistence that he had never said he would not go for second term were indications that he intends to contest.
He said, “These are indications that he is likely going to contest. And you know that he has consistently made it clear that he never signed any document with anybody to say that he was not going to contest for a second term. Those who are saying he did should come out with concrete and empirical evidence.”
Akinboye agreed with the President, saying if he declared his intention run today, it could heat up polity.
He said the impact of Jonathan’s declaration of intention to run, would be too much for the country to handle.
“The polity is already heated; actual declaration will over-heat the polity. This is because you will then have serious division, which they have started experiencing already. Once he declares, those people who said he promised them would then constitute themselves into an antagonistic force and commence serious campaign against him. Right now, they may still be thinking that perhaps, he may still change his mind,” he said.
Akinboye added that more Nigerians were likely to be happy if Jonathan gives up his right to contest for a second term in 2105.
“Many people are of the opinion that Jonathan is actually not in charge. He may be a good man, personally, but those surrounding and those advising him, appear to be the ones pushing him up and down, left and right. Some people have the opinion that perhaps, if there is a change of guard, there could be some fundamental changes in the political structure and governance in the country,” he said.
Similarly, senior lecturer, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, Prof. Dauda Saleh, said the statements Jonathan had made amounted to declaration of intention to contest for a second term.
He said, “The fact that he said he never signed any pact with anybody; the fact that he said the constitution guarantees him a second term, and other indications are, as far as I’m concerned, are a declaration of his intention to contest in 2015.
“If he had no intention of going for a second term, he would have said it openly. What President Jonathan has said so far, amounts to declaration of his intention to run for a second term and there is nothing wrong with that.”
Saleh added that if the President officially declared his intention today, it wouldn’t make much difference, considering that the polity was already heated due to the lingering suspense.
He said, “But my question is why should Jonathan’s desire to contest heat up the polity? If anybody wants to contest, he should go and start mobilising. The ground is level for everybody.
“All those attacking Jonathan are not attacking him on the basis of his policies or what his government has done; they are attacking him based on religious, ethnic and regional sentiments. Jonathan has the right to contest.”