As President Goodluck Jonathan’s handlers prepare for a formal kick- off of his re- election bid, ahead 2015 presidential polls, Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan, reports that there are cracks in the president’s political family.
There seems to be a growing gale of concern in the political family of President Goodluck Jonathan as his camp prepares to launch his re-election bid ahead of the 2015 presidential election. Sources within the camp told newsmen that some key elements in the family are showing discontent the way the second term bid of the president is being handled.
On top of the list of those threatening to severe their relationship with the re-election efforts of the President, according to insiders’ reports are coordinators and other officials of the various pro-Jonathan campaign organisations across the states of the federation. Citing various reasons, these aggrieved loyalists of the President are expressing displeasure with the current situation of things within the political family.
“There is anxiety among leaders of the president’s camp over threats by some of our people in the states to dump the campaign for the re-election of the President over perceived imbalance in the system as well as alleged injustices meted out to some of them.
“In recent months, we’ve had complaints from states like Bauchi, Oyo, Rivers, Enugu, amongst others. We’ve had complaints of abandonment, insensitivity and failed promises. The President is worried by these growing gale of discontent and he has directed that all such issues be looked into and resolved immediately,” a source said.
Few days ago, supporters of the 2011 Bauchi State President Goodluck Jonathan campaign Coordinator, Alhaji Shu’aibu Ahmed Gardama, threatened to dump the PDP, unless positive steps are taken to correct the anomalies bedeviling the party in the state. Supporters of the PDP chieftain, led by Hon. Umar Faruk, made the threat while briefing newsmen in Bauchi.
Faruk said “since after the 2011 general election, our pillar was dumped by both the state and the national chapter of the union and the leadership of the party. They alleged that PDP presently is diminishing in the state because the executive leaders of the party were only given recognition during ceremonies but no positive activities is going on in the party.
“All efforts by the federal government to carry their kinsman, Shu’aibu at the federal level was blocked by the leaders of the state chapter of the party and the state government. He stressed that, politics is ”give and take” and that they have suffered in the party, adding that they will dump the party and look for another alternative party to contest future elections.
Confirming his supporters’ claim, Alhaji Shu’aibu said he received thousands of his supporters who asked him to dump the PDP and contest election under the umbrella of any political party , but he begged them to be patient a little to enable him contact the national leadership of the party to intervene in order to correct the mistakes, problems and undemocratic attitudes going on in the affairs of the party in the state.
It would be recalled that Shu’aibu had contested Bauchi gubernatorial seat with Governor Isa Yuguda and former secretary to the Bauchi State Governor, Nadada Umar, in 2007. He was appointed as Acting North East Campaign Coordinator for Jonathan /Sambo in 2011, while Governor Isa Yuguda was appointed as the Coordinator Jonathan /Sambo campaign organisation.
Similarly, the subtle drive to crave support for the President’s next political ambition, took another dimension recently in Enugu as armed policemen stopped a solidarity rally for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election. As early as 9am, scores of armed policemen had taken over the entire Michael Okpara square, originally scheduled for the rally put together by a body, believed to be operating under the banner of Goodluck Initiative for Transformation (GIFT).
Speaking to newsmen outside the square – where the rally eventually held amid tight security, the National Coordinator of the group, Chinedu Okpalanma, regretted that they were denied access to the square, despite formal communication earlier to use the place. He explained that the essence of the zonal rally was to sensitise the people of the South eastern geo-political zone of Nigeria on the need to support Jonathan for a second term.
Efforts by reporters to get reaction from the manager of the square hit the brick wall, as he refused to take several calls put across to his mobile phone. But investigations revealed that the lock-out may not be unconnected by the rift between the governor of the state and some chieftains of the ruling party.
“GIFT, the group that organised the rally is no doubt a pro-Jonathan initiative but its loyalty and closeness to a PDP chieftain, who is at loggerheads with the governor probably makes it unacceptable to the government of the day in Enugu State.
While the administration of Governor Sullivan Chime is committed to Jonathan’s re-election, it is alleged to be opposed to the candidate the organisation is supporting for the Enugu 2015 governorship race. Hence the lock-out,” a source told The Nation.
It was also gathered that the issue has been analyzed by the President’s handlers following complaint by the leadership of GIFT to the presidency about efforts by the Enugu State Government to suppress its activities in the state.
“The leaders of the group were told to continue to support the re-election bid of the president while efforts are being made to reconcile them with the leadership of the PDP in the state and the state government,” a source said.
In a related development, the five northern non-partisan groups campaigning for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 also threatened to quit for what they described as obvious insensitivity on the part of the president’s handlers. The five groups, led by the Northern Emancipation Network (NEN), based their grievances on the alleged selfish and insincere manner those purported to be handling Jonathan’s campaign were going about the project.
Rising from a joint meeting in Abuja, the Coordinator of NEN, Mr. Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, warned that while their members had come under intense pressure, the president’s team on the other hand, does not appear to appreciate their efforts. “Instead of recognising and incorporating genuinely committed groups, Jonathan’s men prefer to do business with the old inconsequential politicians from the North that are incapable of adding value to the campaign,” Suleiman said.
He said the Jonathan team had failed to appreciate that there was a fresh thinking in the North today that had forced the old political order to crumble. “We have on several occasions tried to make them understand the need to identify these changes and to utilise them for the success of the Jonathan project in the North which obviously, is going to be the main battle field in 2015,” he explained.
He added that since politics was a matter of interest, and people cannot waste their time, resources and efforts on people that do not appear to appreciate that efforts, they would soon open discussions with other political groups that have shown interest in their activities. The groups warned that those close to the president are not telling him the truth on the enormity of the task of selling his ticket in the north.
“Rather they give the president the impression that they are in control whereas they merely hide behind the fireworks we provide and our domination of the propaganda space on media and social networks. “The people that support us cannot continue to be exposed to the antagonistic risk associated with the project in the north while some clearly unproductive elements continue to take the credit,” Suleiman warned.
Not to be left out, some youths in Rivers State, under the aegis of Rivers Youths Democratic Movement, RYDM, recently threatened to dump PDP for the APC, over perceived determination by President Goodluck Jonathan to frustrate Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s developmental efforts in the state.
Leader of the group, Mr. Jackson Manna, who spoke after a meeting of the youths in Port Harcourt, said unless Jonathan resolved his differences with the governor, Rivers youths may be forced to join the governor in his new party and dump their agitation for Jonathan’s re-election.
RYDM cautioned that rather than see Amaechi as a threat to his political interest in next general elections, Jonathan should close ranks with the governor, who they believe meant well for the president and the entire South-South region.
He said: “We gave President Jonathan the highest votes during the last general elections, but his fight against Amaechi is a fight against our votes in 2015. We may be forced to follow Amaechi to the APC, where we will give him our total support if the squabble is not rested.”
He said their position followed signals that the Presidency and national leadership of PDP are plotting to displace Amaechi as governor of the state.
In Oyo State, chieftains of the three factions of the PDP are waiting for the outcome of the recommendations of the reconciliation committee recently set up to settle squabbles in the state chapter of the ruling party. But a group has declared that the next party governorship candidate should come from the Oloye Jumoke Akinjide/Arapaja faction.
At present, the three factions of the party in the state are those of Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, Senator Teslim Folarin and Jumoke Akinjide/Arapaja.
The reconciliation team headed by Chief Finnih, has submitted its report with a recommendation that the Oyo State party executive should either be dissolved or harmonised in order to find a lasting solution to the crisis which caused the party’s defeat during the last election.
Former Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Alhaji M. Majekodunmi Aborode, an ally of Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, said the party leadership must get it right in the interest of the party. “We are still waiting for the outcome of the report and recommendations of the reconciliation committee. We believe it will come out with an acceptable results based on justice”, he said.
Aborode threatened to quit the PDP and contest on the platform of another party to the House of Representatives if, according to him, the wrong faction is accorded further recognition to the detriment of the real members of the party as the case has been for a while now.
A recent release by the Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), accusing President Goodluck Jonathan of not fulfilling promises he made to them during his 2011 Presidential Campaign is also causing ripples within the President’s camp, according to sources.
The Igbo youths said President Jonathan has neglected them and their area in infrastructural provision. They said his promises prior to the elections made them to vote massively for him. The group, led by Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said the Igbo youths will not support Jonathan in 2015 unless they see tangible actions to provide for the welfare of the youths in Igboland.
Isiguzoro stated, “we worked assiduously to ensure that President Jonathan emerged, but three years after, we are yet to feel the impact of his administration”. The Ohaneze Youth leader noted with regret the high rate of unemployment among Igbo youths, and appealed to the President to accommodate them in his transformation agenda with regards to youth development and empowerment.
“I keep saying it that we mobilised, canvassed and worked seriously to ensure that he (Jonathan) won, but since then, the Igbo youths have not seen any impact of his administration on us. So, we call on him to ensure that Igbo youths are accommodated in his transformation agenda. That is the only way we can assure him of our support in future”, the OYC leader said.
Isiguzoro called on the federal government to set up a South-East Development Commission like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to cater for welfare of millions of unemployed Igbo youths in the country or include them in the N59.9 billion Amnesty Programme.
He said the inclusion of Igbo youths in the Amnesty Programme would reduce kidnapping in the South-East and help the zone to reclaim its position as the foremost commercial hub of the country.