Abuja Agog as Governors, Others Arrive

The stage is set for today’s formal declaration by President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2011 presidential election, with at least 20 state governors and hundreds of party chieftains and supporters already in Abuja for the big event. Security has also been tightened in and around Abuja.

Also yesterday, the Presidential Campaign Council set up to manage Jonathan’s campaign was officially unveiled with Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Senator Dalhatu Tafida as the Director General.

Tafida, who spoke after the unveiling of the council, disclosed that should the president succeed in his quest to secure the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party and go on to win the election, he will not seek re-election in 2015.

Ahead of Jonathan’s declaration, a special church service and Jumat prayers were held in Abuja yesterday at the wish of the president for the peaceful conduct of the elections, and to dedicate the forthcoming primaries of the PDP and the elections to the hands of God.

While all discussions across the nation in the last 24 hours centred on today’s official declaration ceremony, hoardes of Jonathan’s supporters continued to pour into the Federal Capital Territory from all parts of the country.
Hotels in Abuja and its environs were booked to hilt, while the Eagle Square, venue of the epoch event had been spruced up to accommodate the thousands of supporters and party faithful that will storm the venue today.

Some of the state governors already in Abuja as at last night were Segun Oni (Ekiti); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Alao Akala (Oyo); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Sullivan Chime (Enugu); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Liyel Imoke (Cross River); Timipre Silva (Bayelsa); Theodore Orji (Abia); Isa Yuguda (Bauchi); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Ibrahim Idris (Kogi); Jonah Jang (Plateau); Aliyu Akwe Doma (Nasarawa); Ibrahim Shema (Katsina); and Patrick Yakowa (Kaduna).

Other PDP big wigs on ground in Abuja included Chief Tony Anenih, Solomon Lar, billionaire businessmen, Femi Otedola and Jimoh Ibrahim, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, Chibudom Nwuche, Ojo Maduekwe and Shaaba Lafiaji.

Akala arrived Abuja with over 6,000 supporters for Jonathan from Oyo State. On the list are the state’s deputy governor, Alhaji Taofeek Arapaja; the chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Dejo Afolabi; all the state’s executive committee members; all Oyo State National Assembly members; State Executive Council members; chairmen and members of boards of agencies and parastatals; local government council chairmen; chairmen; and executive members of party at the local government levels in Oyo State.

The delegation also included at least 150 communal and self-sponsored politicians from each of the 351 wards in the 33 local government areas in the state.
The wife of the Bayelsa State Governor, Mrs. Alanyingi Sylva also arrived Abuja with hundreds of women from the state for today’s declaration.

The women who left Yenagoa in dozens of buses also used the opportunity of the flag-off to install Mrs. Sylva as the Bayelsa patron of the Hope Alive for PDP Women in Nigeria.
Speaking to the women before their take-off from Yenagoa, Mrs. Sylva described Jonathan as a father and that the women of the state must see the 2011 ambition of the president as a special project that must not be allowed to fail.

“This is a special project not only for the people of the state alone, but the need for continuity of good governance in the country. We are satisfied that the president has decided to run in 2011 and I urge everyone to support him,” she said.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday on the composition of the Presidential Campaign Council, Tafida who said that he is on a three months leave of absence, introduced other members of the campaign group to include former Minister of Sport Alhaji Samila Sambawa, who will serve as the Director of Campaign and Logistics.

Other members are Ali Gulak, former Speaker of the Adamawa House of Assembly, and Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Legal Affairs who will serve as the Director of Mobilization, Organization and Coordinator of the Goodluck Support Group, and Sully Abu, former Managing Director of the defunct New Age newspapers, who will serve as the Director of Media and Publicity.
Other include Mike Obiere, Political Adviser to the Senate President who will serve as the Director of Planning, Research and Strategy, and Abubakar Mauzu who will serve as the Director of Youths. Senator Anietie Okon; Senator Isaiah Balat, who is a Special Adviser to the President; and the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh are also members of the campaign organization.

Contrary to the views in political circles that the North may pose a difficult hurdle for Jonathan to cross at the primaries of the PDP and in the general election, Tafida declared that Jonathan would secure an emphatic win in the North.
Tafida said Jonathan would not have any problem securing well over fifty percent of the delegates’ votes from the North at the primaries.

He was confident that Jonathan would go ahead to confirm his wide acceptance by Nigerians in the northern part of the country by winning the presidential election.
According to him, “One thing I can tell you is that we have 19 states in the North and whatever the number of aspirants we have, we will get well over 50 percent.

“Even yesterday (Thursday), I got a call from a governor, along with the minister and ambassador from that state, saying there is no way one vote will deviate from Goodluck Jonathan and it was from the extreme Northern part of Nigeria. I am telling you this, insha Allah, Goodluck Jonathan has no problem,” he said with confidence.

A member of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council, Senator Isaiah Balat, who reinforced Tafida’s position at the conference, said Jonathan would win more than two-thirds of the northern States: “We do know that the president has been accepted in the northern part of the country and he is the man to beat in the country.

“This race is about him and others and I want to assure you that the North is comfortable with his candidature and the North is going to vote massively for him.”

But responding to a question on whether Jonathan would stay in office beyond 2015 if he wins next year’s presidential election, Tafida said that was not the intention of his candidate.
According to him, “Goodluck Jonathan is spending the balance of the four years (of the Yar’Adua-Jonathan ticket) and all that I can say is that this is the intention of Goodluck Jonathan.

“But as you know, politics is not about Goodluck Jonathan, politics is not for us here in this room, politics is not just for Nigerians just within an enclave, politics of Nigeria is about Nigerians.
“We should give Jonathan those four years and see how he performs. Then it is left for you and for him to decide whether he would need to spend more years.

“In any case, this is his intention (to spend the balance of four years) at the moment.”
But on what Jonathan would do in the event that he suffers a defeat at the party primaries, he said his candidate was prepared for any eventuality.

“A politician who does not imagine defeat is not supposed to go into politics. We all have contested before, we all have won before, and we all have lost before and nothing happened.
“Anybody who does not envisage defeat must not go into politics. But in any case, anything can happen and we are prepared for it.

But believe me, we always speak positively and you should speak positively for our candidate because he is a good man,” he stated.
Tafida shed more light on why Jonathan is contesting the election, declaring that it was bolstered by the resolution of the party that he could exercise his constitutional right despite the retention of the party’s zoning policy.
He said: “He is the president and because he is also riding on a joint ticket, our great party saw the reason and we also believe in that reason that Goodluck Jonathan is entitled to contest for the remaining four years that he had along with Yar’Adua.

“We thought the party took a good decision, a good decision that he had the right to contest. So he is trying to work on the unfinished joint ticket of which he is a part of.”
Tafida vouched for the youthfulness, energy and wisdom of Jonathan, stressing, “He is an academic who has passed through the mill.”
He added: “Some people talk of experience; that they are coming in to contest the election because of experience. Well, what experience has someone who was deputy governor, governor, vice president, and now president not got?
Tafida dismissed reports that the guidelines of the party on the order of primaries that put the presidential primaries last was aimed at placing the president at the mercy of state governors, saying there was nothing to worry about.

“I think that in the guidelines, there was nothing new. There was nothing different from what we have in the Electoral Act and therefore there is nothing to worry about at all. The president is still the president,” he stated.
He also, in response to another question on the prosecution of the Halliburton scandal and the commitment of the Jonathan administration to fight corruption, assured that the anti-graft war is on course.

“I assure you that the government intends to pursue the case (Halliburton scandal). This government intends to pursue the issue of anti-corruption and the issue of Halliburton. There are many other cases, so please give us a chance.”
Tafida described President Jonathan as tough and decisive Nigerian president who would be known as one of the best performing presidents the country would ever have.
He explained that President Jonathan had series of consultations, both wide and near before reaching the decision to contest for the presidential election.

Meanwhile, the president at the church service held at the State House chapel yesterday vowed to conduct free and fair elections next year despite his interest as a presidential candidate in the January 2011 polls.
The service, which was conducted by clergymen of the Christian Association of Nigerian, asked for wisdom to govern and lead the nation aright as well as the peaceful conduct of the 2011 elections.

The president, who began by thanking members of the congregation for their encouragement and support as well as those who travelled from every part of the country for the prayer service, said he had taken an oath not to derail the process.
He said, “My message is to say clearly that all power belongs to God. If I want to continue to be the President of Nigeria by 2011, it is only God that can make it possible, no earthly mortal can do it and no earthly mortal can stop it if God wants it that way.”
He added that people in privileged position must understand that public service is not a do or die affair, “as we serve to the Glory of God and the people.”

The church service was attended by the Senate President Senator David Mark, Deputy Senate President Senator Ike Ekeweremadu and his wife, Anenih, and governors of Ebonyi, Plateau, Abia, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Kaduna, Enugu, Ekiti, Oyo, Bayelsa, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Benue and Rivers States.
The deputy governors of Gombe, and Plateau States were also present, including several members of the Federal Executive Council as well as the president’s mother.

Also present were several political bigwigs, the Chief of Defence Staff and other service chiefs, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as corporate titans.

Similarly, Vice President Namadi Sambo led several governors and deputy governors, members of FEC, and National Assembly members of the Muslim faith at the Central Mosque, Abuja, where they prayed for the successful and peaceful conduct of the 2011 election.

Thisday

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Comments

  1. Aha, the stage is fully set now, let’s see what happens in the days to come. The more you look, the less you see.

    Like

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