After several months of prevarication, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday accepted his nomination as the sole candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and set between November 7th and 15th as possible date for his former declaration.
To this extent, the President has set up a declaration committee to be chaired by the former Defence Minister and a chieftain of the PDP, Dr. Bello Halliru Mohammed.
This decision was reached after a long meeting of the party stakeholders including PDP governors and party leadership chaired by the President himself yesterday at the Presidential Villa.
Although journalists were not formally briefed after the meeting, a dependable source who participated in the meeting disclosed, on condition of anonymity, that Jonathan had assured the party leadership that he would pick-up the party nomination form before the October 30th deadline set for the exercise by the ruling party.
According to him, Jonathan thanked the leadership of the party for considering him worthy to be given the right of first refusal to contest on the platform of the party.
He also assured them that he would run for the Presidency as requested.
The Declaration Committee, chaired by the former PDP National Chairman and former Defence Minister from Kebbi state also has Sen. Ken Nnamani (Enugu) while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim (Ebonyi), would serve as the Secretary.
Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Prof. Rufa’i Ahmed Alkali (Gombe), Julius Imagwe – SSA – Youth (Edo), Dr. Baraka Sani (SSA -NSAP),Kano are to serve as members of the committee.
Governors were also nominated to represent their zones on the board of the committee and those appointed include Governors Liyel Imoke, Cross River (South South), Theodore Orji, Abia (South East), Olusegun Mimiko, Ondo (South West), Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu Niger (North Central), Ibrahim Shema, Katsina (North West) and Ibrahim Dankwambo, Gombe (North East).
Sen. Hosea Agbola , (Oyo), Sen. Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Hon. Bitrus Kaze (Plateau) and Hon. Salmas Badru (Ogun) were appointed to represent the National Assembly on the board.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke (Bayelsa), Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji AbdulJelil Adesiyan (Osun), Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina (Adamawa), Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), were nominated to represent the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Those to represent the PDP in the committee include its Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus (Rivers), Benue State Chapter Chairman, Chief Emmanuel Egbo, (Benue) National Women Leader, Kema Chikwe (Imo) and North West Zonal Chairman, Amb. Ibrahim Kazaure (Jigawa).
To represent party stakeholders on the board, Sen. Stella Umo (Delta), Sen. Walid Jibirn (BOT Secretary, (Nasarawa), Ibrahim Bunu (Borno), Rev. Jolly Nyame (Taraba), Sen. Aneta Okon (Akwa Ibom), Peter Obi (Anambra), Mrs. Remi Adiuku Bakare (Lagos), and Gen. Abdullai B. Mamman (FCT) and Abdullai Maibasira (PDP National Youth Leader) – Niger were nominated.
Others appointed at Presidential discretion include Barr. Halima Alfa (Kogi), Nigeria Ambassador to Netherland, Dr. (Mrs.) Nimota Nihinlola Akanbi (Kwara), FCT ALGON Chairman, Hon. Micah Yohanna Jiba (FCT) and Hon. Sam Ikon (Akwa Ibom).
Thus the summary of representation on the board on zonal basis is South-south 6, South-east 5, South-west 5, FCT 1, North West 5, North East 6 and North Central 6.
It was learnt that Professor Jerry Gana has also been named as the Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee for the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation, to be set up soon.
This development has put to an end the speculation on whether or not Jonathan would run in the 2015 Presidential election as his formal declaration is just only a matter of time.
However, in a sharp reaction to the President’s declaration, a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former governorship aspirant in Adamawa state, Dr. Umar Ardo said it is definitely prejudicial for the president to unconditionally declare under the circumstance.
According to Dr. Ardo, “With cases in courts challenging his eligibility to contest, I believe it is definitely prejudicial for the president to unconditionally declare under the circumstance. To me it is a clear affront to rule of law in Nigeria. It was my belief that no one could do or say anything regarding the presidential nomination of the PDP for the 2015 elections until the matters before the courts are finally determined. It would mean that President Jonathan could neither declare nor obtain Expression of Interest and Nomination forms and the PDP could not also sale forms to any of the parties in the suits. Any act contrary to this will be subjudice. I believe this is the way of the rule of law.
“But let us pursue the cases in the courts to their logical conclusion and see what would be the final outcome. May God help save our country from drifting to a crunch”, he added.
Similarly, radical lawyer and human rights activist, Festus Keyamo, in his reaction said, “Well, it is his decision to contest or not to contest. Now that he has made known his intension to contest, it remains for the courts to decide whether he is illegible or not”.
On whether it could amount to violating the 1999 Constitution, assuming that President Jonathan eventually emerged victorious in 2015, and will be sworn-in three times as president, Keyamo said, “We don’t know, nobody knows today till the Supreme Court decides.”