2015: Nobody can intimidate Jonathan away from the presidential race – Presidency

The Presidency, on Tuesday, challenged those who claimed that President Goodluck Jonathan signed an agreement to spend one term, to produce the document.

President Jonathan

The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Mr. Ahmed Gulak, said this on an Africa Independent Television programme, Focus Nigeria, monitored in Abuja.

He said that nobody could intimidate the President away from the 2015 presidential race.

The Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, had on Liberty FM, Kaduna, on Saturday claimed that Jonathan signed an agreement with the Peoples Democratic Party’s governors not to seek re-election in 2015.

Gulak, had in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, said the President did not sign such an agreement.

Reiterating his earlier statement, the presidential adviser said, “I’m telling you without any iota of doubt and with all sense of responsibility that there has never been any agreement or pact signed by the President that he is going to run for only one term. He has never told me about it and I have never heard about it. The governors said they have the agreement, let them bring it. I know as of fact that there is no such agreement.”

He said that Aliyu’s statement was borne out of his ambition in 2015.

Gulak added, “We are all Nigerians and if you want to pursue your own ambition, like I have always said, you have the right. You have the right to pursue your ambition to be the President of Nigeria. But you don’t have to concoct stories to justify your ambition.

“President Jonathan never signed such a pact, but only gave Nigerians the general guarantee of one-man, one- vote and that no one has the political strength to intimidate the President to run away from his constitutional right of contesting the next elections, should he decide to do so.”

He said he hoped that a forged document indicating that Jonathan agreed to spend one term would not be produced.

The presidential adviser also dismissed reports that there was a crisis between Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He said that the sack of some Peoples Democratic Party officials on Friday was not targeted at Obasanjo.

According to him, the party is only abiding by a court judgment.

He said, “Somebody took the party to court challenging the emergence of our officers from the South-West. Unless and until the judgment is upturned, it remains valid.

“If the PDP fails to abide by the judgment, the same Nigerians will accuse the party of being lawless.”

Meanwhile, investigations on Tuesday showed how the purported single-term of four years accord the President had with the PDP governors was reached.

It was learnt that the four-year deal was backed by the leadership of the party on August 13, 2010 at the meeting of the National Executive Committee, which was held at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja.

The PUNCH learnt that the decision to grant Jonathan one more term then was predicated on the tension created in the party after the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Governors and some prominent leaders from the north were then insisting that the north must be allowed to complete its eight-year rule like Obasanjo did.

In granting the President four more years, the party said this would enable him to complete the joint ticket he had with the late President as his deputy.

The then National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Rufai Alkali, who announced the party’s decision after the NEC meeting, however, said other aspirants would not be disallowed from contesting with the President for the party’s sole ticket.

Alkali had said, “NEC took time to review the origin and essence of the zoning principle as enshrined in the PDP Constitution. In view of historical antecedents and contemporary realities and in order to ensure justice, equity and fairness, NEC unanimously endorsed the retention of the zoning principle in the PDP Constitution.

“NEC also observed that President Goodluck Jonathan is serving out the first four year term of the joint ticket with the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and therefore has the right to contest the remaining four-year term of their joint ticket in 2011.

“NEC however resolved that this will not of course exclude any other Nigerian from any part of the country from contesting the Presidential primaries for the 2011 general elections.”

The NEC was persuaded by the former chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, who canvassed for the understanding of the party to allow the President run for election.

The motion for the adoption of the chairman’s speech in which he marshalled his reason, was moved by the Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, and seconded by the former chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih.

Before NEC passed the resolution, a former Governor of old Bendel State, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, had also interceded for the President.

The former governor was said to have argued that that he was enlisted in the army based on zoning.

He was also said to have informed his audience that the killing of General Murtala Muhammed in the 1975 coup led to the emergence of General Olusegun Obasanjo as the Head of State.

This action, he said, led to the promotion of Lt. Col. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua to the rank of a Major-General, which enabled him to become the number two citizen.

This argument was said to have swayed the NEC members who then agreed that Jonathan should be allowed to contest in 2011.

Before the closed-door meeting, Nwodo had argued that since both the late President and Jonathan came into power with a joint ticket, he said it was better for the party to allow Jonathan carry on with the ticket in the absence of Yar’Adua.

He had also cited the case of Adamawa State where the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was picked as the running mate to Obasanjo; he forfeited his position as the governor-elect to his then running mate, Boni Haruna.

He said that when Haruna completed the tenure of Atiku in 2003, he also contested the governorship election again in 2007 without the party complaining.

Nwodo said that despite the numerous court cases by his traducers, Haruna came out of these cases triumphantly.

However, none of the members of the current NWC was ready to speak on the matter.

Investigations by our correspondents indicated that the members considered it as too delicate to dabble in, especially when the rumblings in the party were already causing problem among its members.

A member of the NWC, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the President was aware that there was a pact between him and the party in 2010.

“There is no way the President would have kept quiet over such a sensitive issue if he had no such pact with the governors,” the member said.

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