Recently, leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party from the southern geopolitical zones met in Lagos to try to summon support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s widely expected second term bid. Anayo Okolie, who covered the event, reports
There have been argument and debate as whether President Goodluck Jonathan is qualified to seek re-election in 2015 or not. However, the 1999 Constitution states that a president of Nigeria can lead for two four-year tenures, making a maximum of eight years in office. Section 137 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution says a person elected to the office of president at any time in two previous elections shall not be qualified for subsequent election as president of Nigeria.
In the case of Jonathan, the question is, has he contested election twice as presidential candidate? The answer is no.
Though, Jonathan has yet to declare whether or not he will seek re-election, campaigns for his second term have commenced indirectly in almost all the regions of the country.
In a bid to ensure a successful outing for Jonathan if he decides to contest the 2015 presidential election, recently, a group under the umbrella of Peoples Democratic Party South-south Forum assembled in Lagos.
Speaking during the event, tagged “Jonathan Must Run Rally,” the chairman of PDP South-south Forum, Friday Samuel Atang, recalled that all the nationalities that make up the country today had before the 1914 amalgamation existed and operated independently with their own recognised traditions and cultures, and without hindrance from any quarters.
Atang noted that the Nigerian project had today brought about majority and minority tribes and zones where individuals and groups in the so-called major tribes now dictate to those they regard as minorities, “when to sleep and when to wake up, when to run and when to walk.”
He recalled that in 2010, Jonathan, as the acting president, was warned not to contest the 2011 presidential election and if he dared to contest, he must lose, else, the country will be made ungovernable for him.
“Events after that election confirm the seriousness of that threat from these ‘Born to Rule’ leaders who treat Nigeria as their personal estate. Does the ambition of a select few selfish leaders worth the lives of innocent Nigerians whose blood flood our street daily?” Atang asked.
He said, “2015 election is approaching and as it was in 2010, another warning has been issued to the president not contest, else, the country will break up or endless violence and more destruction will ensue. They have refused to acknowledge or appreciate any accomplishment of this administration.”
On the attempts to discredit the Jonathan government before the electorate, Atang said: “We the people from the South-south know that the president is going through these trials because he comes from the minority tribes… “But shall we as a people buckled under intimidation and blackmail and allow President Goodluck Jonathan to be arm-twisted and bullied out of the presidential race? Never, otherwise, we will fall victim to the immortal words of Frank Fanon who said, ‘The future will have no pity for those men who possess the exceptional privilege of being able to speak the words of truth to their oppressors, but have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity of mute indifference.”
Prince Oghene Egoh, who represented the South-south leader, Chief Edwin Clark, stated that the activities of enemies of democracy who want to truncate and deny Jonathan his constitutional right to run for a second term must be stopped. The South-south, he stressed, would not have bothered to come out to demand that Jonathan must run if those who are against him had been democratic in their call. “We in the South-south believe that Jonathan must be allowed to exercise his democratic right,” Egoh said, adding that the decision to vote for him or not should be left to the electorate.
“We appeal to the northern elders to be patient because four years is like a second in the life of a nation. We are all witnesses in this country to the fact that the South waited patiently for the North when five presidents succeeded themselves for a period of about 26 years.” According to Egoh, former President Shehu Shagari was succeeded by General Muhammadu Buhari, military president Ibrahim Babangida, the late General Sani Abacha, and General Abdulsalam Abubakar. Egoh observed that these northern presidents were all Muslims and the South-south was patient.
Egoh said, “We should also not forget that the South-south is the goose that lays the golden egg, which feeds the North also. When the North had groundnut, they enjoyed it alone but now that South-south has oil they do not want to take it all alone.”
He added, “President Jonathan has done well with his transformation agenda, which includes privatisation of NEPA, establishment of a federal university in each state, encouragement of employment with SURE P, and industrialisation.”
He said the president will surely transform Nigeria, which has become the biggest economy in Africa, in spite of dwindling revenue from the oil and the ravages of Boko Haram.
The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Lagos chapter, Captain Tunji Shelle, said Jonathan’s re-election is democratically right, stressing that he has been carrying out the affairs of Nigeria with all dexterity and determination.
Shelle said, “It would be difficult for any other person to take over from Jonathan and do as much as he is doing. South-south people are not alone. A thing like this takes a lot of hard work, time and commitment to achieve. I also want to place on record that our president has done so much among which is the national conference, which ongoing and which is going to give us direction that Nigeria is going to follow after 2015.
“Mr. President has shown that he is a leader. If you go to various airports of the country, you will see what I am talking about. Go to various railway stations you will see what I am also talking about from Lagos to Port Harcourt station and to Kano station and you will see a lot of work.”
The South-south PDP members’ gathering in Lagos was, no doubt, another event to test the waters ahead of Jonathan’s expected declaration for the 2015 presidential election. But it is not clear when he would make that decision.