Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nigerian PDP, Opposition Parties Mobilize for President Jonathan

PDP, opposition parties mobilise for Jonathan

Thursday, 14 April 2011 00:00
From Collins Olayinka, Bridget Chiedu Onochie (Abuja), Niyi Bello (Akure), Simeon Nwakaudu (Makurdi), Ralph Omololu Agbana (Lokoja), Eric Meya (Sokoto) and Gordi Udeajah (Umuahia)
Nigerian Guardian

Sokoto CPC, ACN, DPP leaders join PDP

Ondo CNPP endorses Ribadu

LEADERS of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their counterparts in some opposition political parties have begun what could be described as last minute mobilisation for President Goodluck Jonathan’s victory in the Saturday’s election.

It was a harvest of endorsement of Jonathan and defection of members of the opposition to PDP in a move to ensure victory for the president at the polls. At different parts of the country, supporters of Jonathan who is the PDP presidential candidate, urged Nigerians to vote massively for him.

Meanwhile, the Ondo State branch of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has endorsed the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) presidential candidate, Malam Nuhu Ribadu.

In Abuja yesterday, leaders of the Labour Party (LP) directed all their members nationwide to vote en masse for President Jonathan on Saturday. And already, some opposition politicians and their supporters in Sokoto State have renounced their membership of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), ACN and the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and defected to the PDP.

In a statement signed by the chairman of LP, Dan Nwanyanwu and National Secretary, Alhaji Abdulsalami Salam and issued at the end of the party’s National Executive Committee meeting in Abuja yesterday, the party cited national unity, democratic profile, the rule of law, capacity to perform and the delivery of democratic dividends as factors that influenced its decision to back Jonathan for the president.

The LP posited that for the fact no aspirant(s) met the party’s minimum requirement to contest on its platform for the president must not push the LP into taking a backseat at the election.

In the statement, LP explained that for the country to achieve nationhood, there is need to elect presidential candidate that possesses cognate experience, level-headedness, humility, sound educational background, selflessness, passion for national integration and reconciliation.

It added: “Nigeria is a heterogeneous society with diverse culture and religion. What has eluded the country since independence is the evolution of a nation out of the diverse ethnic nationalities. The plague of sectionalism, nepotism and parochialism has over the years held Nigeria down from achieving its full potentials as a sovereign nation expected to play leadership role in the African continent and comity of nations of the world.”

The LP declared that the presidency of Nigeria cannot be entrusted into the hands of rookies and those whose democratic pedigree are suspect, saying, “Nigeria has grown pass the era of experimentation and gambling in its consideration for the election of candidates into the office of the president. Superficial, sentimental, ethnicity, religious affiliation and other mundane issues must not be factored into the process of electing a president for Nigeria in the modern world.”

After deliberation, the party therefore said President Jonathan fulfills most of the criteria set by the LP. “The National Executive Committee (NEC) of our great party put all the presidential candidates for the 2011 presidential election on the scale of the above criteria. NEC was dispassionate and objective in its evaluation of all the candidates for the office of President. NEC unanimously arrived at the conclusion that President Jonathan met all the requirements stipulated above other presidential candidates. NEC therefore endorsed Jonathan and recommends him to all Nigerians to be elected as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Saturday, April 16, 2011. NEC urged its supporters nationwide to move into the field without delay to canvass for support for the election of Jonathan as the President.”

Speaking on why the LP endorsed Jonathan, governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, lauded President Jonathan for empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct credible election.

He hinted that recent experiences have indeed shown that the will of the sitting president helps shape the character of election, adding that the body language and utterances of Jonathan portray him as a president that is not desperate for power.

He declared that going by the quality of PDP bigwigs that lost elections into the Senate and House of Representatives last Saturday, there are indications that the President can be trusted to midwife an electoral process that will guarantee the emergence of credible politicians.

The LP governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Timi Alaibe absolved President Jonathan of ballot box snatching and stuffing but he insisted that the crime was perpetrated by the PDP members who are clearly not in tune with the ideology of President Jonathan.

The Sokoto politicians led by the former Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Dahiru Umar Aliyu, at a press conference held under the aegis of Amalgamated Forum of Former CPC, ACN, and DPP Candidates, said the group with about 5,000 supporters were present at the event.

According to him, their main objective was to inform the Sokoto voters of the need to avoid religious sentiment in choosing a president for Nigeria come Saturday.

He said that as concerned patriots championing the cause of a better Nigeria, they were astonished by the way and manner some leaders of their former parties “without any iota of patriotism, engage the services of Islamic clerics to go to rural areas to cajole voters not to vote for a particular candidate because of his religious background. This is sad as it portends danger to our nascent democracy.”

He pointed out that being a secular state, Nigeria gives the opportunity to citizens of different faith to lead the country at different times.

He noted that there were no resentment to the ambition of the Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari who is an indigene of the state; the late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on the basis of religion, wondering “why at this advanced stage of our national integration as a nation some people still use religious parameters as basis for electing a leader?”

Aliyu reminded the people that there was no time the present administration prevented any Moslem from practicing his faith, adding that for the first time in the history of the country, the leader of Moslem faithful, Sultan Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has been appointed the Permanent Amirul Hajj.

He called on the people of the state to reject any alliance based on ethno-religious grounds.

Similarly, former National Chairman of the PDP, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd) boasted that despite the result of the National Assembly elections across the country, in which the ruling party has lost seats to the opposition, no alliance of all the opponents would be strong enough to unseat his party at the presidential level.

Ali dismissed the proposed alliance between the ACN and the CPC as “a futile effort that is not capable of influencing the outcome of the Saturday presidential election. It will fail.”

The PDP chieftain who spoke with reporters at Lokoja, Kogi State capital yesterday said: “How can the contending parties in the opposition suddenly jettison their own manifestoes and everything and jump on the bandwagon of another one and expect the rest of Nigeria to follow them without thinking? I know they will make this attempt; they did it before, in 2007, it never worked and I can assure you it will not work again this time around.”

In a bid to clinch Benue State in the Saturday’s polls, President Jonathan has reached out to former Benue State Governor, Senator George Akume of the ACN.

Akume was said to have led other leaders of the ACN to meet with representatives of President Jonathan in Abuja on Tuesday night at an undisclosed location after they had lodged formal complaint against Benue State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Nasir Ayilara in the National Assembly elections.

President Jonathan was said to have met with Akume before the PDP primaries. The Akume-led team at the meeting, The Guardian learnt, held negotiations on the areas of possible collaboration during the Saturday’s presidential election.

The meeting with Akume’s group was held as the Freedom Party of Nigeria (FPN) threw its weight behind President Jonathan, giving five reasons for adopting him as their choice candidate.

Speaking to journalists yesterday in Abuja, the National Chairman of the party, Mr. Frank Hwofa, said the decision to adopt Jonathan was reached at the stakeholders’ forum, which was convened last week. The meeting, he said, was aimed at assessing various candidates for the presidential race.

According to him, some of the reasons for considering Jonathan as the best candidate include integrity, people-oriented policies as well as his humble disposition.

“It is important that the President to be elected should be a man of integrity, a man who has listening ears and one who is people-oriented. We have searched North, East, South and West of this country and as a party driven by ideas, we have decided to adopt Jonathan, having met these criteria.”

“We want a leader who can promote unity, who can better handle the issue of security, guarantee education for the youths, ensure food security, manage the nation’s resources and can be accepted internationally.”

While charging party stakeholders to mobilise grassroots support for Jonathan, Hwofa promised that come Saturday, the party would be able to generate 10 million voters for the president.

In Ondo State, PDP stalwart, Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim, predicted victory for Jonathan in the state on Saturday. Ibrahim said with the total number of votes cast for the PDP in the National Assembly elections, President Jonathan is sure of winning the presidential election in Ondo State. He urged the people of the state and teeming members of the PDP to go out en masse and vote for President Jonathan.

Rising from a meeting in Akure, the Ondo CNPP, which is an amalgam of 15 registered political parties, said it threw its weight behind Ribadu’s aspiration “because he is the best candidate at this point of Nigeria’s history.”

The endorsement, according to the decision of the meeting attended by CNPP co-ordinators across the 18 local councils of the state, where they discussed the action plan in the unfolding political scenario, was the best in the interest of the country.

They said as a result of the performance of the ACN at the just concluded National Assembly election in the country, the party stands in good stead to defeat the incumbent President Jonathan in Saturday’s election.

The Chairman and Secretary of the CNPP, Chief Ayo Isijola and Prince Femi Ajibola said the body’s choice of the former anti-graft chairman was because he stands shoulder higher in preference to all others in ability to stand in gap for Nigeria to wrestle the cankerworm of corruption which has been starring the country in the face.

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