THREE years to the next general elections, the battle line for the 2015 presidential race appears drawn. Multiple reliable sources in government and the Peoples Democratic Party told our correspondents over the weekend that prominent Northern politicians, including governors, were plotting to stop President Goodluck Jonathan’s alleged bid for a second term.
This is in spite of the denial by the Presidency that Jonathan has no re-election ambition. The President, in a statement by his spokesman, Reuben Abati, had said the speculations about his second term bid were the handiwork of “mischief makers and opportunists.”
The PUNCH, however, gathered that the Presidency’s denial was not believed by Northern politicians. Our correspodents report that those who are bent on stopping Jonathan are hoping to use the budding presidential ambitions of Governors Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger) as rallying points for Northern voters.
This plan is, however, likely to meet with stiff opposition. Some groups, in the South-South, have commenced activities to counter all opposition to the President’s second term. Already, the Ijaw National Congress has accused the North of a “moral deficit” in asking for the number one job in 2015.
Aliyu, at the Northern Governors’ Forum meeting in Kaduna on Thursday, had vowed that the North would not allow the 2015 presidency to elude it.
“We must be united more than ever to go into the 2015 elections as one entity with the aim of producing the President,” he had told his colleagues.
A member of the PDP National Working Committee, who spoke in confidence with one of our correspondents, said, “The journeys of some of the northern governors across the country are part of the subtle campaigns for the Presidency.”
Investigations showed that the plot to stop Jonathan is spearheaded by governors who are no longer seeking second term tickets. They, findings show, are leading the campaign for the return of the Presidency to the North. A source in the PDP told our correspodents that the governors were doing this because they wanted to contest for the Presidency in 2015.
Out of the 19 states in the North, the PDP controls 14 – Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto and Taraba.
The All Nigeria Peoples Party is in control of Borno, Yobe and Zamfara -while the Congress for Progressive Change is in charge of Nasarawa.
Out of the 14 PDP states, 12 of the governors are serving their second term in office. Only four, which are those of Kaduna, Gombe, Kwara and Kogi are in their first term.
Among the northern governors who are in their second terms, only the governors of Gabriel Suswan (Benue), Danbaba Suntai (Taraba) and David Jang (Plateau) are likely to support Jonathan’s second bid.
Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji AbdulFatai Ahmed, The PUNCH gathered, might not support the President’s second term.
Ahmed’s godfather, who is also his predecessor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is believed to be having problems with the President.
The governors elected on the platform of the PDP, after the party’s National Executive Committee meeting on August 13, 2010, had only agreed to support Jonathan for a single term of four years.
But Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, in an interview with journalists on Saturday in Lagos, said the clamour by some northern governors to have a president from the North in 2015 would amount to ethnicity or the regionalisation of the office.
Dickson, a protege of the President, said, “The 2015 elections are still three years or more from now; it is too early; it will overheat the polity and distract the President.”
Dickson’s statement came barely a week after Sunday PUNCH reported that Jonathan’s closest associates had begun the campaign for his 2015 presidential ambition.
The report had quoted the National Vice-Chairman, South-South Zone of the party, Dr. Stephen Oru, as saying in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, that, “The PDP must triumph in the July 14 governorship election in Edo State to provide a unified regional base for Jonathan to actualise his second term presidential ambition in 2015.”
Meanwhile, the Ijaw National Congress National Secretary, Mr. Robinson Esitel, on Sunday reacted to the position of the Northern Governors’ Forum on the 2015 presidential election.
He said, “The issue of who would become the President in 2015 is a choice that will be made by Nigerians as a whole and not by a section.
“The Ijaw nation insists categorically that Jonathan’s Presidency is not a Presidency of four years, but a Presidency of eight years under the constitution and subject to the good conscience of Nigerians.
“The North should not blame the perceived underdevelopment of the region on anybody. They have been in governance of this country, both under the military and civilain regimes, for the better part of the time that this country has been in existence.”