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Published On: Sat, Sep 14th, 2013

2015: Jonathan Shuns Anenih’s Advice on Declaration of Presidential Intention

Anenih and Jonathan


LAGOS SEPTEMBER 14TH ( URHOBOTODAY)-President Goodluck Jonathan has ignored the advice given to him by the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, over his 2015 presidential ambition.
Anenih had during the PDP post-convention dinner held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Sunday said the President could not afford to continue to tell Nigerians that time was not ripe for him to declare his interest in the Presidential race.
He advised the President to declare his ambition either this month or latest by October this year. The politician said the President’s declaration latest by October was necessary to give the party a proper direction and set the agenda straight as the party, for the first time, had embarked on discussing its future.

“I will appeal to our leader, the President of this country, that at the end of September or as we enter October, we should not tell anybody that the time is not right. I think the time is right. It is good that we tell our people where we are going to; what our journey will be like,” Anenih said in reference to Jonathan’s 2015 ambition.
But the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, told one of our correspondents in Abuja on Thursday that the President was not contemplating changing his mind on his decision to declare his position on the poll only in 2014.
He said regardless of that advice, the President would rather stick to the 2014 date which he had promised Nigerians, adding that Anenih’s admonition was the PDP chief’s personal opinion.
He said, “Chief Anenih gave his own opinion. As Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, I have told Nigerians before and I am repeating it now that President Jonathan will tell them whether he will contest or not in 2014. We stick to that decision, our plan is to tell Nigerians our position in 2014, not now.”
On whether the crisis in the ruling PDP, particularly the opposition of seven state governors, was not a hurdle to the President’s ambition, the presidential aide said the crisis in the party was not more than that of any other party in the country. He said the situation was a normal occurrence in a big political party like the PDP.
Gulak then expressed the conviction that the ugly situation would soon be a thing of the past. He said, “There is no crisis in the PDP that is more than any other party in the country. Internal disagreement is a normal thing. It will always happen in a big party like the PDP. It has happened before.
“I am assuring you that the crisis will become a thing of the past very soon.”
Meanwhile, the opposition All Progressives Congress has berated the President and the PDP for repeatedly breaking the law which forbids parties from campaigning for the 2015 elections.
The party was reacting to Thursday’s inauguration of the Elders Committee of the Goodluck Jonathan Support Group in Abuja.
A former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, had said during the event that he was convinced that 2015 was in the pocket of the PDP.
But the Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told Saturday PUNCH in Abuja on Thursday that the Jonathan administration had enthroned a culture of impunity.
He explained that the President’s supporters had carried on as if there were no laws guiding the process.
He said the Independent National Electoral Commission had warned politicians against early campaigns, adding that Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 ( As amended) stipulates that campaigns shall commence 90 days to the election and end 24 hours to the Election Day.
Mohammed, said, “They did not start (campaigns) today. The First Lady’s peace and empowerment rally that led to the closure of Abuja was the beginning of Jonathan’s campaign.
“The ladies were wearing T-shirts bearing Jonathan’s pictures. This government has enthroned a culture of impunity.”
But his counterpart for the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, dismissed these claims.
He explained that the inauguration of the elders committee for the Goodluck Support Group had nothing to do with the 2015 election.
According to him, the group was set up to propagate the activities of the Jonathan administration. This, he said, they had done successfully over the years. The publicity secretary insisted that no law had been broken.
Metuh said, “The opposition is quick to cry foul because they don’t have anything to do. The opposition in Nigeria cannot produce any agenda. They don’t have any plan for the country.
“So all they do is to criticise and cry wolf where there is none and the opposition we have in Nigeria is the worst opposition that we ever had in democracy anywhere. They are a bunch of frustrated people.”
He argued that the inauguration of the Elders Committee of the GSG was in continuation of its efforts to strengthen its activities and further enlighten members of the public about the achievements of the Jonathan administration.
Metuh also said PDP and Jonathan had not flouted any known law of the country.
Also speaking on the issue, the national coordinator of the group, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, said the committee was not particular about 2015.
Gulak, who is also the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, argued that the organisation had been in existence since 2010 and had made positive contributions towards the unity of the country.
He said, “We are not particular about 2015. The Goodluck Support Group has been in existence since 2010 and we are sure that the group has contributed its quota to the unity of this country in enlightening Nigerians on the programmes of the administration.
“We have been working at the grassroots level, we have been working conscientiously, we have been enlightening the people about the need for peace. And the group felt that it needed a council of elders that would sit back and use their wisdom and continue to advise us.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission has, however, declined to make a pronouncement on the issue.
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said he was yet to get a full picture of what transpired at the event.
He told one of our correspondents, “ We need to get enough information on this issue before we make any pronouncement.”
INEC, had in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to its chairman, Kayode Idowu, on June 8, 2013 warned politicians against early campaigns citing provisions of Section 99(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
The section stipulates that campaigns shall commence 90 days to the election and end 24 hours to the Election Day.
The statement came against the backdrop of campaign posters of leading politicians such as President Goodluck Jonathan, Congress for Progress Change (CPC) national leader, Maj.-Gen Muhammadu Buhari; Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi; and his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Sule Lamido, which had surfaced in various parts of the country.
The commission warned that it would not hesitate to sanction politicians and political parties that violated the provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act as regard early campaigns.
It also called on security agencies to arrest violators as such campaigns were a threat to democracy.
Punch

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