Prominent Ijaw leaders and south-south elders last week met in Lagos for two days during which they deliberated on the 2015 presidential election and the way forward for the region.
The meeting, which was held at the Civic Centre, Lagos, reportedly had in attendance the National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi, Ijaw leader Chief Edwin Clark, Niger Delta Volunteer Force leader Mujahid Asari Dokubo, special adviser to the president on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources Dr. Godknows Igali, pioneer president of Ijaw Youth Council Dr. Felix Tuodolo, oil magnate Mr. Dumo Briggs, NIMASA director-general Mr. Ziakede Akpobolokemi and ex-militant Ateke Tom, among others.
The meeting, which had as its theme, “Strategic Programme for the Development and Progress of the Niger Delta”, was meant to draw attention to the development of the region, but the participants used the platform to examine the political implications of Jonathan’s declaration and the future of the region.
The details of the meeting were, however, not made public. But a source at the meeting said the leaders of the region were not leaving any stone unturned in ensuring that the region retains the presidency beyond 2015. The source said the South-South leaders expressed worry over the statement by the president that he would not go for a second term, a development that could cause a serious political setback for the region.
It was learnt that, after many of the leaders had spoken on the dangers of conceding the top political post to another region on a platter, it was resolved that Jonathan should be persuaded to run for a second term.
According to a competent source who attended the meeting, there is a compelling need for Jonathan to change his stance, so as not to mortgage the opportunity of the South-South to enjoy eight years presidency.
The source said, “Jonathan is the only person in the South-South who could run and win the presidential election in 2015.”
The meeting generally agreed that there was the need for all Niger Deltans to rally round the president to ensure his re-election in 2015.
A former president of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the umbrella body of all Ijaws in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, Joshua Fumudoh, who attended the two-day conference, told LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt that the meeting considered that the statement by the president at the time was meant to douse tension in the land.
Fumudoh argued that such a highly sensitive political decision could not have been taken by the president alone without recourse to the elders and leaders of the Ijaw nation and the south-south in particular as well as certain individuals and groups across the country.
The ex-INC leader and member of the PDP said the president’s “desire to serve only one tenure of four years” did not take into consideration what would happen to the remaining four years that would have been Jonathan’s second tenure.
Recalling Nigeria’s past presidents and their tenures in office, backed by the necessary constitutional provisions, Fumudoh said it would be against the principle of fairness, equity and natural justice not to allow the South-South to complete their eight years tenure.