Jonathan's second-term ambition heats up PDP

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Olusola Fabiyi

A storm is gathering in the Peoples Democratic Party as some governors elected on the platform of the party are poised to rally against a plan by President Goodluck Jonathan to run for an alleged second term in 2015.

Just last week, the former President of the Ijaw Youth Council, and Leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, said Jonathan would occupy Aso Rock for eight years as president.

However, a governor, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity on Friday, said a second term for the president would negate an agreement that the President reached with the governors before they agreed to support his transition from acting President to President.

During the tension-filled period that followed the hospitalisation of Jonathan’s predecessor, Musa Yar’Adua, in Saudi Arabia, there were speculations the President had promised the governors that he would only serve a term.

The hint about the governors’ opposition to Jonathan’s alleged second-term plan is coming less than two weeks after the governors had threatened to leave the party following a recommendation that the membership of the party’s National Executive Council should be increased.

The NEC, which is the party’s most powerful organ, is dominated by the governors, who by sheer number and the number of appointees they have in the council, call the shots.

Our correspondent reports that the governors said the plan to increase the council’s membership was an attempt to whittle their powers.

At the 59th National Executive Committee of the party, some stalwarts had moved for the approval of the recommendation by the Constitution Review Committee of the party led by the National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke, to enlarge the NEC by bringing 72 more lawmakers from the National Assembly.

SUNDAY PUNCH authoritatively gathered last week that the real reasons some of the governors opposed the amendment was because they felt that the amendment was a ploy to bring in the president’s loyalists preparatory to his suspected 2015 ambition.

The governor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he and his colleagues did not trust President Jonathan.

He said, “We don’t trust the man (President). He is capable of doing anything. He may want to run again in 2015 and he might want to believe that we would not back him because of the promise he had made before that he would only run for a single term.”

Section 12.72(j) of the party’s constitution empowers the NEC to “make party electoral regulations to govern the conduct of elections to all party offices at every level and regulate procedure for selecting the party candidates for elective offices.”

The party’s constitution also empowers the NEC to make rules for party discipline which shall be binding on all organs and members of the party.

Although PDP Senators and Reps are in support of the amendment, the governors believe that the lawmakers are doing so because of the influence they know they can wield as NEC members should the President decide to run.

The source said they want “to be seen to be supporting the president with the hope that they would be rewarded at the right time.”

Also on Saturday, northern political leaders met in Abuja to discuss the desire of the PDP to amend its constitution to accommodate about 72 lawmakers from the National Assembly, among other issues.

Those at the meeting were former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.); another former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar(retd.); a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Alhaji Adamu Ciroma.

Also at the meeting were Sen. Wash Pam, Prof. Ango Abdulahi and AVM El-Amin Dagash, among others.

It was learnt that the attendees felt that the plan to amend the constitution was aimed at denying the region the opportunity to produce the president in 2015.

“The meeting decided to mobilise against the desire of the PDP to amend its constitution, which is expected to take place at its National Convention slated for March 24 in Abuja,” they said.

However, Abdulahi, who was a former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the meeting only discussed the issue of “security and youth empowerment in the region.”

Already, the Senate caucus of the PDP has supported the desire to enlarge the NEC.

Speaking on behalf of the caucus, Leader of the Senate, Victor Ndoma-Egba, however said the desire of the lawmakers was not to conflict with the state governors.

He said, “We believe that every state should have at least one senator and one House of Representatives in NEC.”

Efforts to reach the president’s spokesman on Saturday evening proved abortive as he did not respond to the calls or text message sent to him by our correspondent in Abuja.

Political ambitions ahead of 2015, according to investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH, are also polarising the party ahead of its national convention slated for March 24.

It was gathered that this could be the reason Jonathan tactically threw his support for one of the national chairmanship aspirant of the party, Alhaji Bamangar Tukur.

The endorsement of Tukur by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Pius Anyim; former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih; and Senator Barnabas Gemade is being considered in political circles as a tacit support for the Adamawa State born businessman.

The trio, who are considered to be influential, were among those who signed his nomination form for the race.

Observers believed that their signatures could imply support for him by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Specifically, both Anyim and Anenih are considered to be very close to the President.

Apart from this, they are also believed to be power brokers and also close to influential members of the party at the national level.

There were rumours making the rounds in Abuja on Thursday that some chairmanship aspirants had been asked to step down for Tukur.

Babayo said, “I am not aware of the move for the consensus candidate or directive to anyone to step down yet. But in PDP, you know we engage ourselves in dialogue and no problem is too big for us to solve.

“I am in the race and there is no plan to step down for anyone. The leaders of the North-East are still meeting and will continue to meet before the convention.”

The pushing of Tukur’s candidacy is also seen as tactical move to frustrate any presidential ambition that former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar might have.

Both Atiku and Tukur are from the same state, and watchers have said that those bent on frustrating Atiku could argue that the party chairman and presidential candidate shouldn’t come from the same state.

“You can see that people are already thinking ahead. Our people are plotting and calculating ahead of 2015,” said a member of the PDP NWC, on the condition of anonymity.


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