By John Ainofenokhai
When, early last year, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, mooted the idea that the PDP should consider granting automatic ticket to President Goodluck Jonathan as the Party’s candidate in the 2015 presidential election and gave expression to the idea at two important meetings of PDP stakeholders, first in Asaba and second in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, some members among them former Political Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, had declared that Anenih was on his own.
Only Gulak knew and still knows what was propelling him at the time, but here is a quick recap of what Anenih said at the meeting of selected leaders of the Party at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, May 30, 2013: “I would like to repeat what I said in Asaba about our party primaries. I did say that, over the years, our primaries have been the most serious sources of rancour and disunity in our ranks, and, that we usually invest so much resources and energy fighting ourselves in the primaries that should have gone into the larger battle against our political rivals.
“I had admonished that we could not continue this tradition of internal warfare and hope that we would have enough energy left to win elections. Consequently, I proposed that we must evolve a new system of selecting our flag-bearers at the presidential and governorship levels that would preserve our unity and reserve our energy and resources for the greater battle for political power. Soon after my address, I read in the media the positive reception and reactions to my proposition by some of our members who believed that one of the ways to do that should be the granting of automatic tickets to sitting presidents and governors who are seeking their second term.
He said: “I concur with them, provided that the sitting presidents and governors have performed creditably with tangible results. The same may apply to performing members of the National Assembly although they enjoy indefinite number of terms. The proposed arrangement would, I believe, help to forestall frictions and acrimony in the nomination process, in the overall interest of our party and the nation.
“Party leaders, brothers and sisters, listening to reports of Ministers of various sectors at the Democracy Day celebration held at the International Conference Centre yesterday, the 29th of May, 2013, I felt proud that Nigerians have not been disappointed by this administration. Fulfilled by his own achievements, President Jonathan confidently asked Nigerians to develop their own criteria in judging his performance during the last two years. I do not see anything wrong, if the PDP considers automatic tickets for the President and its Governors who have performed well and are seeking for a second term…”
With the emphatic endorsement of Jonathan as the sole presidential candidate by the various decision-making organs of the Party at their meetings in Abuja some few days back, it became clear that Anenih, a very experienced senior member and leader of the Party, was just playing the role of a perceptive forerunner, preparing the ground for the inevitable process of consultation and decision that would eventually culminate in the coronation of Jonathan as the Party’s sole candidate for the 2015 presidential election.
The shape and texture of the sole candidacy deal had already been fine-tuned by the man who is reputed to have the peculiar gift to make impregnable political prognoses about presidential power politics in Nigeria; and the ratification of the deal by the National Executive Committee (NEC) was the crown capping of the process which has delighted all stakeholders, most especially the beneficiary of the endorsement-President Jonathan. Anenih must be very excited about this development as it has further reinforced his August 5, 2014 declaration in Calabar that President Jonathan would contest the 2015 presidential election.
In Calabar, the Oracle of Uromi and acclaimed Nigeria’s political Nostradamus, who has built a formidable consciousness for himself in the politics of Nigeria, had moved a step ahead of other PDP stakeholders, who were still dancing round the issue of Jonathan’s second term bid, to make a categorical statement, something more of a fait accompli, to the effect that Jonathan would contest the presidential election. The occasion was strategic: the maiden zonal tour of the South-south by the new National Chairman of the Party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu; and the terse message was clear: “I want the new PDP chairman to go home with a word from the father (of the President) that come 2015, he (Jonathan) will run for a second term.”
The import of the declaration was not lost on people who know how close Jonathan and Anenih are to each other: the father-son relationship, the mutual respect and trust, which perhaps underpinned the support Jonathan gave to Anenih to become Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees after he (Jonathan) had appointed him to chair the very important Board of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). To those who do not know Anenih as being flippant, Jonathan was already in the race.
The larger picture has now emerged. Jonathan is the PDP sole candidate. There is no need for electioneering within the Party for the ticket. Jigawa Governor, Sule Lamido, who had given an inkling of his interest in seeking the ticket of the Party, appeared to have sunk his plan. Whether there are opponents or not within the Party, Jonathan’s candidature is already sure-footed. Significantly, he is saved the distraction of electioneering. He can sufficiently and wholeheartedly still focus on governance issues until the electioneering for the 2015 poll that he and his Party are expected to pursue with a single-minded purpose, which finds anchorage on the basis and rationale elucidated in Anenih’s proposal for automatic ticket for Jonathan, as captured in the introductory quotes in this article.
John Ainofenokhai via linkedin