For the umpteenth time, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said he was yet to take a decision on whether or not to seek the 2015 presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, dismissing as ill-founded reports that he has empanelled trusted loyalists to strategise on a campaign.
Besides him, former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, another probable candidate for the PDP presidential ticket, also insisted, yesterday, that he was still making wide consultations on a third bid for the Presidency.
Besides dismissing reports that he was already in the race, President Jonathan also washed his hands off the gubernatorial aspiration of one of his key aides, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, Special Adviser on Technical Matters.
The assertions by the president conveyed by his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Reuben Abati followed report of the constitution of a 21 man committee to strategise on a Jonathan bid for the 2015 presidential election by a national newspaper (not Vanguard) and an advertorial in Saturday Vanguard of April 13, 2013, where Dr. Jonathan was portrayed to have endorsed Nwankpo for the Anambra election due in November, this year.
Nwankpo who is a long-time friend of the president is reportedly vying with former presidential aide, Senator Andy Uba for the Anambra PDP gubernatorial ticket.
Besides the rebuttal by Abati, sources close to the presidency insisted, yesterday, that it would be foolhardy for the president to constitute a panel on the presidential election insisting that it would only be a distraction.
“There is nothing like that for now and the closest to it is the fact that some people are just talking on the issue but there is nothing formal,” one source close to the presidency told Vanguard yesterday.
Rebutting the report of the constitution of a committee to strategise on the president’s re-election, Dr. Abati said: “In spite of clear and unambiguous pronouncements by President Goodluck Jonathan that he remains fully focused on the implementation of his Administration’s agenda for national transformation and not the politics of future elections, the Presidency has noted with concern that some individuals, groups, organisations and sections of the media have continued to foster the myth of a President and Administration solely concerned with jostling and self-positioning for the 2015 elections.
“This is totally untrue and without any basis in reality. As he has truthfully declared on several occasions, President Jonathan has not yet taken a decision on whether or not he will seek re-election in 2015 and has therefore not mandated any individual, committee or organisation to start working on his behalf for the 2015 elections.
“President Jonathan’s wish to be left alone to focus on delivering on his promise of good governance and national transformation without unnecessary distractions should be respected. Political jobbers and their collaborators in the media should stop heating up the polity with baseless speculations and falsehoods revolving around imaginary plans and schemes by the Presidency for the 2015 elections.”
Endorsement of Nwankpo
On alleged endorsement of Nwankpo, Abati said: “The Presidency has also observed what seems to be an emerging trend whereby persons with their eyes fixated on political opportunities in future elections are beginning to use President Goodluck Jonathan’s name to promote themselves and their vaulting ambitions.
It was clearly in this regard that some unscrupulous persons began to print 2015 campaign posters with President Jonathan’s photograph whereas the Independent National Electoral Commission is yet to announce the commencement of campaigns and political parties are yet to conduct any primaries for the selection of candidates.
“For the benefit of the unwary, the Presidency emphatically states that President Jonathan has not endorsed any candidate for any position whatsoever ahead of the 2015 general elections neither has he commissioned persons to start campaigns for his own candidature.
“As a leader who respects the rule of law, President Jonathan respects the fact that there are laid down procedures, defined by INEC and the political parties, for the selection of candidates for any election.
As a law-abiding citizen, President Jonathan will not engage in any act, symbolic or direct, that runs counter to laid-down procedures. As a loyal party man, he will equally not do anything that will amount to the usurpation of the party’s structures and powers to conduct primaries and choose candidates for elections.
“We, therefore, disown the claims and allegations of Presidential endorsements or the commencement of 2015 campaigns. The general public and affected stakeholders are advised to be wary of the kind of opportunism, misrepresentation and mischief that usually arise ahead of elections in general,” the president said as he warned political office seekers and their sponsors not to exploit the president’s name in their campaigns.
I am consulting too — Atiku
Meanwhile, erstwhile Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has also claimed that he is yet to make up his mind on contesting the 2015 presidential election.
Atiku who contested the 2007 presidential election on the platform of the Action Congress, AC and vainly sought the ticket of the PDP in the 2011, said that he is presently consulting widely among stakeholders on a possible bid.
Speaking through his media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, the former vice-president said: ”Turaki is still consulting widely on the issue. It is neither here nor there, and a decision would only be reached after the ongoing consultations that he is making with friends and associates across the country.”