Jonathan’s Presidential Posters Flood Abuja
Residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, awoke to find a rash of campaign posters in strategic places proclaiming Acting President Goodluck Jonathan as a Peoples Democratic Party presidential aspirant in the country’s 2011 general elections.
The posters were seen at the Garki Area 11 junction in Abuja and read: “For Positive Change, Goodluck Jonathan for 2011 presidential election.” But when contacted the acting president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Ima Niboro, said he had not seen the posters and was not aware how they got there.
Jonathan’s Ambition to be President Throws the PDP into Disarray
With some elements in the North threatening Fire and Brimstone if acting President Goodluck Jonathan decides to cast the power rotation principle of the PDP into the dustbin, the civil war in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) escalated yesterday with its chairman facing fraud charges, some of its key members suspended and a call for the dissolution of its highest policy making body.
Mohammed Alhaji Yakubu, a chieftain of both the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Northern Union (NU) has declared that any attempt to short-change the North in 2011 would be resisted, insisting that June 12 crisis would be small when compared to what would happen should Acting President Goodluck Jonathan run in 2010.
Last month the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in Kaduna held a close door meeting which a credible source said was to find a way of appealing to the northern leaders to allow Acting President Goodluck Jonathan completely take over from ailing Yar’Adua as president.
Yesterday, Daily Trust, a Newspaper based in Northern Nigeria accused Dr. Jonathan of sitting on a proposal submitted to him last week by PDP’s National Working Committee (NWC), calling for a NEC meeting to be held in Abuja today, April 22.
“He had earlier refused to approve a meeting to be held on April 8, saying he was preparing for his trip to the US on April 10. Two weeks earlier, Dr. Jonathan also refused to approve a NWC committee proposal to hold a NEC meeting on March 31, saying the date clashed with his other schedules”, the Paper said.
It continued: “Dr. Jonathan’s serial stalling of the PDP NEC was believed to be due to the fact that the meeting would approve guidelines for the party’s primaries towards the 2011 elections. Once such guidelines are approved, it would be impossible for Jonathan to contest, given the agreed zoning formula. The senior party officer said “the only way the Acting President can contest under the PDP is to somehow convince the NEC to change the zoning arrangement. That would be very difficult, but not impossible.”
Adding: “While the Acting President stalled the NEC meeting, party chieftains that are known to be close to him plotted to remove party national chairman Prince Vincent Ogbulafor for alleged incompetence and corruption. The PDP Reform Forum spearheaded by former House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Bello Masari, chairman of AIT Chief Raymond Dokpesi as well as former Senate Presidents Ken Nnamani and Adolphus Wabara summoned meetings to discuss Ogbulafor’s removal. They proposed to replace him with Chief Bernard Eze, a former acting secretary of the PDP.
Yesterday the National Working Committee (NWC) suspended all the members of the PDP Reform Forum – the group pushing for reforms – it earlier invited to face a disciplinary committee.
They shunned the party’s invitation. Instead, they convened a meeting in Abuja where they called for the dissolution of the Vincent Ogbulafor-led NWC.
Those suspended include Senator Ken Nnamani, Hon. Aminu Masari, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, Chief Tony Ukasanya, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Chief Sunny Iroche, Senator Emmanuel Agboti, Senator Sylvanous Ngele, Senator Ifeanyichukwu Araraume, Chief Achike Udenwa and Chief Rochas Okorocha.
Also suspended are: Chief Chris Ekpeyong, former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, former minister Chief Abiye Sekibo, Hon. Auwal Tukur, former Chief Whip, Hon. Bawa Bwari, Prof. ABC Nwosu, former Rivers Governor Dr. Peter Odili, Kelechi Igwe and Chief Bernard Eze.
Eze, a former National Secretary of the party was not among those originally invited by the party.
The National Secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, in a statement in Abuja, said the decision to suspend the members was taken at its NWC meeting.
Baraje said the NWC members were surprised that the suspended members failed to appear before it, despite extensive invitations extended to them.
According to him, the decision to dishonour the invitation to appear before the NWC “is a calculated attempt to disregard lawful directives of the party in order for them to continue to ridicule the party, contrary to Article 12.1 of the PDP Constitution.”
Baraje said: “The National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its meeting held on the 22nd of April, 2010 considered current political events in Nigeria and came up with the following resolutions:-
“The NWC expressed its surprise at the refusal of members of the Party, operating under a group
called the “PDP Reform Forum” to appear before it, despite extensive invitations extended to them.
“The NWC is of the view that the concerned members had adequate notice but declined to utilise the opportunity granted them by the invitation to explain their roles.
“The NWC held that the decision to dishonour the invitation to appear before it is a calculated attempt to disregard lawful directives of the Party in order for them to continue to ridicule the Party, contrary to Article 12.1 of the PDP Constitution.
“Consequently, the following members of the so called PDP Reform Forum are suspended from the Party forthwith in accordance with Article 21.4 of the Party Constitution:-
“Their case has been referred to the National Disciplinary Committee for further necessary action.”
The Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Forum, Senator Ken Nnamani, said the action was part of the “impunity and recklessness” the forum was trying to stamp out of the party.
Nnamani, said the meeting of the Forum was in line with Article 9.2.4 of the PDP constitution, which encourages members to hold regular meetings, gatherings and social activities aimed at developing familiar bonds.
He said: “This is part of the impunity and recklessness that we are trying to guide against. We in the PDP Reform Forum are only trying to proffer ideas to move the party forward.
“It is unfortunate that in this age that people are resisting reforms. This impunity cannot help our country.”
The PDP Reform Forum went ahead with its stakeholders’ conference in Abuja.
At the meeting, which was attended by PDP members from across the country, the Forum called for the dissolution of the NWC.
The Forum, in a communiqué read by Hon Mercy Almona Isei, urged the PDP to revisit the criteria for selecting delegates to its various congresses and conventions.
It also called for the biennial national conference as contained in the party’s constitution and for the Acting President and the leadership of the party to immediately dissolve the Ogbulafor-led NWC.
The communiqué reads in part: “The PDP must revisit the current criteria of selection of delegates for our various congresses and convention with a view to seriously reducing the members appoint-able by a single individual – (be he state governor or the President/Commander in Chief). In fact, elected delegates must outnumber appointed ones.
“The biennial national conferences prescribed in the PDP constitution, which is currently overdue by three months, be immediately summoned for the sole purpose of examining and effecting these necessary far reaching internal reforms. Attendance at the conference must be strictly by election at ward/local government levels.
“This conference hereby calls on the founding fathers, the national leader and Acting President, Commander-in-Chief, the Board of Trustees, the expanded national caucus of our great party and all well meaning members of the Peoples Democratic Party to take all necessary and appropriate steps to urgently dissolve the National Working Committee of the party as currently composed and reconstitute same with men of high probity, integrity, and commitment to the ideals of our great party in the interest of the Nigerian nation.”
Prominent among those who attended the meeting are Chief Rochas Okorocha, Chris Ekpeyong, Celestine Omehia, Chief ABC Nwosu, Mrs Remi Adiukwu-Bakare, Alhaji Iro Dan Musa, Adolphus Wabara, Raymond Dokpesi, Tony Ukasanya, Austen Okpara, Ifeanyi Araraume and Femi Otubanjo.
Nnamani said the group was not out to witch-hunt anybody.
Nnamani bemoaned the dwindling fortunes of the PDP in its 11 years of existence and called for fresh and innovative ideas to develop the party.
He said: “But we want to point out very clearly that there is a sharp line between government and party. I made this argument at one of our NEC meetings when President Yar’Adua presided. I said that the leader of the party cannot be President of Nigeria because he has become the leader of the whole country. He will not have time to run the party. In the state, the leader of the party should not be the governor.
“If we run the party properly, the party should exert its own. We should not confuse the two between administration and governance. And that is what we want to discuss in an atmosphere like this.
“I don’t see anything anti-party about this. And we invited everybody. This is a party affair. People should meet. Politics is about resolution and conflicts.
We have been holding several meetings, at the party headquarters and all we get is ‘yes, yes, approved’, ‘no objection’. How can a party grow in that stead? So, a group of us decided to start a journey and it is because of those that are benefiting from the skewed system. But who will be opposed to reform?
“How many of us here now can say we are better off now? Yes, we have been in power for 11 years but are we better off today? That is a question you should ask yourself. Unless we are courageous enough to ask ourselves we will be deceiving ourselves as we go into 2011 election.
“I like to make a number of clarifications because there seems to be a dilution of the noble intention of this forum our purpose as demarcated by previous speakers will indicate very clearly that at no time did we gather or at no time did any individual try to sponsor us to ouster the new PDP chairman of the party.
“It’s our information that some individuals found it convenient to run around with candidate of their choice who will take over from the present chairman of the party. That is not the purpose of this gathering.
“We have at no time aspired to select, nominate or direct the activities of the PDP. I will like to quote that from the party’s constitution, Article nine subsections four which states the obligations of the party to its members and which has not changed. The section states that ‘the party shall encourage regular gathering and social activities aimed at developing familiar bonds among members.’
We are here this afternoon to agitate our minds on the burning virtues of the PDP, what made PDP strong in the past whether we can rekindle that kind of fire in PDP. We are not here to push for any conferred group or individuals. So many people invited to this meeting got a wrong impression that we are here to settle political scores in various states.
“We are not here to attack anybody. Because of our determination to see how we can inject new ideas on how the party can grow and get better, we invited even the governors but because of people with inordinate ambition they went about saying that we are here to confer chairmanship on certain individuals; that is not our purpose here. We do not have the right or the constitutional backing to do that.
“The funding of this exercise is internally generated; nobody from outside has given us money to do what we are doing here this morning. So, I am working hard to dispel the roumors that one big man is sponsoring us to change the structure. So people are running away because they don’t want to come and preside over their own liquidation,” Nnamani added.
A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, said the NWC has failed to lead the party as envisaged by its teaming members.
Masari said: “The cumulative of what has been said here and the body language is that anybody in this country would have seen that there are three major failures in the party’s current leadership, the National Working Committee.
“When the Uwais report was submitted, up to this moment, with the exception of the bill sent by the President to the National Assembly, the party did not come out to state its position on that report.
“Two, we had a political succession problem in this country. The party failed to rise to the occasion. It abandoned its responsibilities for those who agitated on the streets for a constitutional solution.
“Three, after collecting close to N500million in Anambra, they could not give Anambra people primaries. I mean when you give somebody three major assignments and he fails in all, how do you describe him?” the people shouted “failure!”
The former Organizing Secretary of the PDP, Dahiru Umaru, alleged that the Ogbulafor-led NWC has not been able to account for the N4billion left behind by the Dr. Ahmadu Ali-led NWC.
Otubanjo said the mismanagement of Anambra governorship election by the NWC should have led to their resignation, adding that if the governors can speak on behalf of the party, the PDP Reform Forum can also do same.
One of the leaders of the forum, who is also a former Minister of Health, Prof ABC Nwosu, in a key note address, observed that the PDP has since deviated from the dream of its founding fathers.
He warned members of the group not to be indifferent about the current situation of the party but rise up to ensure that the party is repositioned to provide credible leadership for the Nigerians.
2011: Jonathan Presidential Prospect receives a Boost
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has said the president that will emerge in 2011 can come from any part of Nigeria.
Despite the fact that ACF would want the president to come from the North, it stated that what the country required for it to make progress was the best and most competent person as president, who should not necessary come from any specific region.
While briefing the press on the forthcoming 10th anniversary celebration of the forum in Kaduna yesterday the Chairman of the Anniversary Planning Committee, Brig. Gen Mohammed Umar, noted that ACF is not a partisan organization.
He said: “ACF exists to make recommendations to those charged with the responsibility and authority to cause good things to happen and to prevent negative ones from happening. ACF is interested in the best material that would move this country forward and not necessarily from a specific region of the country.”
Umar also pointed to the recurrent violent crises in Jos, the Plateau State capital, as one issue that the Northern socio-cultural organization had not been able to fully solve. He, however, said despite such failures on the part of ACF, the organization had recorded several successes.
He said the celebration with the theme: “Fighting Corruption and Social Conflicts for Development,” was aimed at tackling the menace of corruption in the country.
According to him, corruption had been identified as the main bane behind the nation’s social economic woes and hence the need to bring it to the front burner so that the issue could be tackled for the social economic development of the country.
“Corruption has been adjudged to be the main sandbags on the nation’s path to social economic and political development. Corruption deprives the people of health services; it stifles agricultural production; it reduces energy and power supply as well as the volume and quality of education.
“The upshot in Nigeria often carts home gold medals in misery indices and brings the rear in human development index. As a result, corruption steals the empowerment of our youths; it steals their opportunity and robes their future with dire consequences on peaceful co-existence on communities, leading to insecurity across the nation that may account for the upsurge in ethno-religious conflicts that come with deep mistrust and suspicion being recorded across the North recently.”
“It is against this backdrop that ACF plans to use the opportunity provided by the anniversary to bring into the open what constitute corrupt practices and their ills on the society as well as social conflicts under the general theme of ‘Fighting Corruption and Social Conflicts for Development’ by way of lectures and discussions,” he said.
To put the issue squarely on the consciousness of Nigerians, eminent personalities such as Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Prof. Joe Irukwu, Governor Adams Oshiomole and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chair, Mrs Farida Waziri among others have been invited for the occasion.
Groups from the northern part of the country have expressed support for Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to contest the Presidency in 2011. While the Northern Coalition for Goodluck Presidency (NCGP) called on the reconstituted Executive Council of the Federa-tion (EXCOF) to apply all sections of the
constitution to confirm the Acting President so as to move the nation forward, Northern Friends of the South South (NFSS) gave him the go ahead to contest for Presidency come 2011, saying that the Northerners are solidly behind him. Both groups unveiled their positions at different fora in Kaduna and Lagos.
In a communiqué issued in Kaduna and signed by the Chairman and the secretary, Abdulrahman Ahmed and Suleiman Abubakar respectively, NCGP said their concern centred on the issue of the Presidency, which has become the subject of controversy not only at home but in the entire world.
According to the coalition, since the unfortunate illness of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the nation has turned into a theatre of political opportunists, who have make nonsense of the whole issue into ethnicity and religion.
“We are therefore concerned that the issue of Presidency, which the 1999 Constitution has spelt out in Sections 144 and 145 has been allowed to degenerate into controversy thereby heating up the polity. Let us say here without any fear of contradiction that the president of this country is for all of us, without any prejudice or sentiment and should remain so for the interest of our unity,” the statement contain.
The group therefore wondered what the hullabaloo over whether Goodluck should continue after 2011 and those who feel that without them, there will be no Nigeria.
“Let everyone of us come together and rally round the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to be able to steer the ship of the nation and we will resist all sentiments aimed at beclouding our sense of reasons. “We should all together come out and reject those past leaders who took us to this situation as they are not our friends; they love their families… There is nothing they have done in the past which they want to do now,” they said.
NCGP also warned Nigerians to beware of some faceless groups and individuals, who are parading themselves for a certain presidential candidate, saying that they are enemies of democracy and should be rejected totally.
The statement added that only a man who wants to tell half truth would want to say that all is well politically today in the country .
“Why do we go into this crisis after 50 years of independence? We all agree that our coming together was a colonial contraption but since we have gone that long, all of us should see ourselves as one in spite of ethnic or religious differences,” the statement concluded.
Also addressing a press conference at the NFSS office in Lagos yesterday, the Founder and President of the group, Alhaji Suleiman Yerima said that after watching the political atmosphere in the country for a while, and bearing in mind that the remaining tenure of the Acting Presidency of is very short, members of the group have put every machinery in its disposal in place to ensure continuity in government as it earnestly urge the Acting President to run in 2011 presidential election.
“We believe that it is better for him to continue to implement the programmes of this administration rather than allow someone else come in and start from the scratch. It will not be in the interest of the nation”, he said.
Yerima added that it will not be in the interest of good governance or for the interest of peaceful co-existence to bar Jonathan from running for the presidency in 2011.
Yerima, who said the country has also been made to believe that the North will not support a Goodluck Jonathan candidacy, revealed further that this was very far from the truth as those who have been following comments of notable leaders from the North in the past few days can easily discern and testify that genuine opinion leaders in the north have been speaking in favour of the Acting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan running for presidency in 2011.
Calling on the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to courageously accept the wish of the people of Nigerian and run for the presidency in 2011, Yerima said members of NFSS are currently mobilised and are working towards ensuring that a capable and endowed potential candidate like Dr. Jonathan is not shut out of the presidential race in 2011 if he decides to run”, he noted.
Yerima revealed further that members of NFSS have been working in all the states in the Northern Nigeria through its coordinators, sensitising the northerners on why Dr. Goodluck Jonathan should be voted for come 2011 presidential election if he decides to run.
“And we here and now assure Dr. Jonathan that based on our consultations in the last few days, the North has come out with one voice and will continue to support the Acting President if he chooses to run in the 2011 presidential race”, the NFSS President said.
He said however that whoever wishes to contest the presidency is free to come out and join the race, noting that he was certain that should Dr. Jonathan decides to run, he will floor all of them.
Speaking on the zoning policy of PDP, Yerima said, “We are of the opinion that if his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which I’m a member as an individual, decides that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will not run under its platform, if he decides to run and opts for another political platform, PDP will be the loser if he wins”.
He said that the group was not against other aspirants running for presidency in 2011, adding, “Our believe is that the Acting President as a citizen of Nigeria has a right to contest under the constitution and should not be barred by the PDP from running just because of its intra party zoning arrangement. Good enough, the Acting President has said that no law stops him from running if he chooses to do so. Zoning is not a constitutional matter. It is a political arrangement by the PDP”.
The group therefore advised that the PDP should not to use “a gentleman agreement such as its zoning arrangement as instrument of exclusion with which to shut out a good and credible Nigerian like Dr. Goodluck Jonathan just because he is not from a particular area where the presidency is zoned to”.
“For the PDP, it would amount to shooting oneself on the leg by sticking to a zoning arrangement that would be counter productive for the party at this time Nigerians are looking forward to good and purposeful governance”, Yerima said.
At the meeting between the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), even though the INC National president, Dr. Atuboyedia Wolfe Obianime, whle addressing members of the ACF, led by the Chairman, General Ibrahim Haruna (Rtd), said they came to re-enact the age-long relationship that existed between the north and the Ijaw people and the South-South in particular, indications that emerged later show that the Ijaw leaders who were over 20 that visited the ACF national secretariat, particularly came to solicit support of the northerners for Jonathan.
According to source, the Ijaw people asked the Northern socio cultural organisation to allow one of their own to be made the President of the country just like the support the Ijaw people gave to the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) during the first republic.
In his opening remark before journalists were told to excuse them, Dr. Obianime said “If you remember when the ethnic parties took control of this country before independent, the British said that they would not hand over to any party that did not show National character, and so it fell on the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) to liaise and work with the Niger Delta Congress (NDC) which was basically formed and funded by the Ijaw people of the Niger Delta and based on the results at that time the NPC won the election at that time and the British handed over power for the first time to a black man”.
“I also want to place before you that because of our belief in unity we have been always using our block votes and all the things that are necessary for northern candidates to assume political power in this country, and so I would gladly mention Alhaji Shehu Shagari. So we have always done this business together”.
“It is also on record that during the Nigerian civil war it was also the Ijaws who with their faith in the common destiny and unity of the country, worked assiduously with the federal government, paid the supreme prize and also did whatever they had to do to keep Nigeria united,” he said, adding that there are other lot of instances that the Niger delta people sided with the north.
Further more the Ijaw leader stated that the years of separation and years of distance and non dialogue must have led to years of distrust and mistrust between the two regions, which they have come to erase so that Nigeria would continued to develop.
In his reply, Chairman of ACF, General Ibrahim Haruna (Rtd), “We must think through and answer the will of God and make it possible, that in spite of our ethnic nationalities, in spite of our differences in culture, we can manage politics that sustain our peace, our humanity and our stability,” he said, adding that they will continued work for the progress of Nigeria in spite of ethnic differences.