Presidential race: Jonathan gets emirs' backing

THE PUNCH Newspaper

President Goodluck Jonathan‘s presidential ambition has got a boost with the support of some major traditional rulers in the Northern part of the country, particularly the emirs.

Investigations by SATURDAY PUNCH on Friday showed that the Northern traditional rulers decided to support the President as part of measures to ensure the unity of the country.

It was learnt that northern presidential aspirants had made several attempts to co-opt the traditional rulers to the move to find a consensus aspirant that would slug it out with Jonathan during the Peoples Democratic Party‘s presidential primaries.

Currently, four Northern aspirants – former military president Ibrahim Babangida; former vice-president Atiku Abubakar; the immediate past National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau and Gov. Bukola Saraki of Kwara State – are in the presidential race.

But the Northern Leaders‘ Political Forum, led by a former Minister of Finance, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, had set up a 17-man committee that would pick a consensus aspirant among the four contenders for the highest office in the land.

SATURDAY PUNCH learnt that in an attempt to get the grass roots support for their plan to produce a consensus aspirant, the committee had been meeting with many traditional rulers in the zone.

It was, however, gathered that the NLPF had so far not succeeded in its efforts to get the backing of the traditional rulers, who enjoy grass roots support in the North.

A PDP chief, who is also a member of the party‘s National Working Committee, who did not want his name mentioned because he was not authorised to speak officially on the issue, said, “The four aspirants have reached an impasse in their efforts to seek the assistance of traditional rulers, who they think can mobilise grass roots support for them.”


gathered that the aspirants had not succeeded because the traditional rulers reasoned that joining forces against the President would not only be primordial, but would threaten the corporate existence of the country.

Besides, investigations showed that the traditional rulers felt that rather than take a decision that could set the country “on fire,” they preferred the North waited till 2015 to produce a president.

SATURDAY PUNCH understands that Jonathan‘s visit to Sokoto and Kebbi states on Tuesday was part of the moves to shore up support for his presidential ambition ahead of the PDP primaries.

During the visit to Sokoto State, the President was reported to have met with the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III.

Also, the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation, led by its Director-General, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida, has intensified its campaign in the North.

It was gathered that during the group‘s visit to Kebbi, the PDP chairman in the state, Alhaji Mansur Shehu, assured the President of the state delegates‘ support in the party‘s presidential primaries.

Shehu was quoted in some national dailies on Thursday to have said that the state had grown above primordial sentiments.

He had said, “We know that

ethnicity and sentiments cannot take the country forward.”

In Sokoto State, the organisation was said to have been assured of support by the governor, Alhaji Mohammed Wamako. The governor was quoted to have said, “When it comes to leadership, Sokoto is a place to look up to as far as Nigerian politics is concerned. Sokoto State is always ready to back whatever project that will make the country one, united and viable.”

The Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation met on Wednesday night and planned how to counter any campaign of calumny by the opposition aspirants.

It was gathered that at the meeting, zonal coordinators (or their representatives) gave reports of their campaigns and were advised to focus more on issues in their electioneering campaign.

When contacted, the Director, Media and Publicity of the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Sully Abu, said he would not comment specifically on traditional rulers or any other group.

He, however, said, “Evidently, people all across the country are tired of these self-indulgent games engaged in by vested interests, who have long held this country hostage and who seek to manipulate our differences to their profit.

“This is why they have failed to induce a major crisis and that is why Jonathan‘s candidacy has found such resonance across ethnic, religious and regional divides.”

But the media aide to Atiku, Mallam Garba Shehu, declined comment on the purported support by Northern traditional rulers for Jonathan.

A member of the NLPF, who pleaded anonymity, said, “The story is the other way round. From what the Emir of Kazaure, Hussain Adamu, said recently on the BBC, you would understand that Northern traditional rulers are in support of zoning. The President and his group should stop deceiving themselves.”

The Director, Media and Publicity of the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Campaign Organisation, Mr. GarbaDeen Mohammed, dismissed the claim that emirs were supporting Jonathan.


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