NIGERIA: President Jonathan Declares Second Term Bid, Opposition Faults Timing

YES. He will run. The affirmation yesterday ended weeks, months, even years of speculations about whether President Goodluck Jonathan will seek a reelection next year.

He claimed to have got a divine approval for his bid to re-contest for the presidency. His family and Nigerians also gave their support, he noted.

As he put it at the Eagle Square, the venue of the declaration in Abuja: "Therefore, after seeking the face of God, in quiet reflection with my family and having listened to the call of our people nationwide to run, I, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, have accepted to re-present myself, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, for reelection as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the 2015 general elections."

The president had hardly finished his acceptance speech when the arena erupted in wide jubilation, followed by a series of fireworks reminiscent of the winning of a major championship like the World Cup.

Accompanying the president's "yes, I will run," was a praise song, "Come and see what the Lord has done."

In a speech aided by a teleprompter, and lasting for about 42 minutes, the president reviewed his administration of four years, enumerating his achievements in various fields, and promising a better deal from 2015 for all Nigerians.

Despite the almost total lockdown of the Eagle Square, Three Arms Zone axis of Asokoro, hundreds of thousands of faithful of the ruling PDP, trekking long distances from where they were disembarked from their vehicles, found their way into or about the arena.

Indeed, many people entered the square, and many still could not gain access because of stringent security checks at the entry points.

It was an occasion, for virtually all PDP aspirants to various offices in the next elections, to show their solidarity with the president's cause, displaying posters and organising supporters to relay their messages.

TAN's role in declaration

However, standing out from the crowd was the major driver of "Jonathan for 2015," the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), whose acclaimed 17 million signatures reportedly swayed the president that Nigerians "actually" wanted him to contest for reelection.

Members of TAN were ubiquitous in their green outfits and green flyers all around the arena.

The party followers, including party top shots, who started trickling into the venue as the cock crowed, were fully mobilised from across the country, with no state left out in the "notice me parade" for the president.

The place was a din of singing, drumming and dancing that subsumed the speeches by speakers, who had a field day going after the opposition and other elements allegedly trying to bring down the Jonathan administration "in spite of what the president has achieved and done for the country."

A rosier future

The president told the ecstatic audience, made up of about 40 per cent young people, that their future would be rosier from 2015 when the foundation he had laid in his first term begins to bear fruits.

According to him, so many things had inspired him in the journey to this moment, appreciating ordinary Nigerians, especially young people, for the solidarity shown to him by contributing their meagre resources to enable him to arrive at this point.

"I appreciate the kind gesture of the Cattle Breeders Union, Miyetti Allah, and the Market Women Association, who encouraged me by coming together to contribute to the purchase of my nomination form," he said.

"In the same vein, I am touched by the National Association of Widows, who also encouraged me with their widow's mite.

"This labour of love, from ordinary Nigerians, has increased my appreciation of your solidarity, my trust in our joint destiny, and all we have achieved together these past three and half years."

According to the president, democracy is a collective action, energised by individual responsibility, stressing that the people's mandate at this time would inspire in him the strength to complete the good work they had started together.

"My dear people of Nigeria, we must complete the task of ensuring that we lift the poor out of the depth of want, and place their feet firmly on the ladder of prosperity," he said.

Jonathan urged peace and tolerance in the forthcoming elections. "In this election season, I appeal to all of you, not to harm, maim or kill; and not to incite violence of any kind. We must never forget our common bond, one people from the womb of one Nigeria.

Ambition not worth the blood of a Nigerian

"Again I say: My ambition to serve you is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. I remain committed to this principle of non-violence."

Then, he pledged to serve the people if he's given the mandate to continue in office in 2015.

"If you believe that we must build a country that works for all, where the strong lift up the weak, and not trample upon them, where the vote of every citizen determines who governs or represents you, where the democratic space is open to all citizens to fulfil their aspirations, irrespective of the circumstances of birth, your brother, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan stands ready to continue in service to you," the president said.

He added: "History has shown that the part of honour of a true leader is not to walk away from his people in the face of challenges. We must stand together in adversity and overcome the threat to our development. We must defend our future.

"History has shown that any true leader (should) not walk away from his people in moments of challenges, we must stand together in adversity and perform for our development."

Completed projects and the need for more

Reeling out projects that his administration had completed, and plans to embark on more, he said that he was propelled by the zeal to complete the projects, put more smiles on the faces of Nigerians, and to transform the nation's economy before handing over the leadership to another person.

Jonathan noted that the journey had been a very difficult one especially because of the challenges posed by insurgents. He hoped that the war against terror would be won just as was the case with the Ebola virus.

He recounted the measures he had initiated to alleviate the sufferings of the victims which according to him included: President Initiative for North-East, Safe School Initiative in North East and Victim Support Fund in which over N60 billion was raised in conjunction with the organised private sector.

The president also recalled the reforms he had caused in the power sector, aviation, oil and gas with increase in local content and education which led to the establishment of 14 federal universities under his watch. He said that 150 Almajiri schools were also set up in the north.

According to Jonathan, the over 14 million farmers out of who two million are women have never had it so good, pointing out that his administration had eradicated corruption in the agricultural sector which had always been its bane. He said that the war against corruption would be extended to other sectors for maximal productivity.

He said that 6,000 ghost workers were weeded out of the federal service and that the youths and women were handsomely empowered by his administration.

The president said that his government had invested $12 million in petrochemical companies to enhance productivity and employment.

Marks justifies support

The Senate President, David Mark, said that Nigeria was in need of a leader who could be trusted, inspirational and reliable, qualities, which he said were personified by Jonathan. He pointed out that the National Assembly was in full support of the reelection of the incumbent president so that he could consolidate on his transformation agenda for the country. He said that the endorsement of Jonathan by the PDP was a new chapter in the political history of the nation which he said was in line with what was obtainable in advanced democracies.

According to the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, Jonathan is a blessing to the nation and citizens, as he is very considerate and is a good listener who can guarantee a steady progress if given another mandate to pilot the affairs of the country.

Mark said Jonathan had demonstrated trust, dedication and steadfastness to the service of the fatherland.

Mark who led PDP legislators, senators and members of the House of Representatives) to the declaration said the endorsement was based on his people-centered transformation programme needed to be executed to its logical conclusion.

He listed the positive revolution in agriculture, aviation, power, telecommunication, education among others where the Jonathan administration needs to stay on for consolidation for the good of all citizens.

Mark said that the laudable programmes initiated by Jonathan might be truncated if he declined to continue in office.

The National Assembly, he said, would continue to support and indeed provide the needed legislative framework for the Executive under Jonathan to continue to deliver the dividends of democracy to the Nigerian people.

He acknowledged the security challenges facing Nigeria and hoped that these would be surmounted " if every Nigerian drops the toga of ethnicity, religion or political affiliation and resolve to work together to end the menace."

Mark therefore pleaded with all Nigerians to fight on a common front to defeat the terrorists.

APC describes declaration as insensitive

But the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday described as utterly insensitive and absolutely callous the decision by Jonathan to declare his second term ambition a day after almost 50 students were killed and about 80 were injured in a suicide bombing in Potiskum.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the APC noted that by the action, Jonathan had clearly shown that the pursuit of his personal interest was more important that the plight of Nigerians who were at the receiving end of insecurity in the country.

Accusing Jonathan and his supporters of dancing on the graves of the students as well as of all the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency, the party noted: "'Since this president has chosen to celebrate a national tragedy, Nigerians should also be ready to celebrate his electoral failure next year. Today, the three North-east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe are in danger of being overrun by Boko Haram and over 650,000 Nigerians are internally displaced in those states by the insurgency. Yet, President Jonathan says he puts Nigerians first. Lies have never worn a bolder face. The truth is that for President Jonathan, it is Jonathan first, Jonathan second, Jonathan third, Jonathan always!"

APC said by "his latest act of blatant hardheartedness, President Jonathan is only continuing along his well-trodden path of acting without deep introspection."

It stated: "When about 60 students were killed in the terror attack on the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, in February 2014, President Jonathan never visited the scene to commiserate with the families of the victims. When over 80 people were killed in the first Nyanya bombing in April 2014, President Jonathan went dancing 'Azonto' in Kano less than 48 hours later. And when almost 300 girls were freshly abducted in Chibok, President Jonathan neither acted fast enough to rescue the girls nor visited the village. His Administration even denied anyone was abducted, until 19 days after!

"This president has therefore established a pattern of putting his political interest above the security and welfare of Nigerians who voted him into office. This President has trampled upon the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which makes the security and welfare of the citizenry the raison d'etre of the government's existence. It is time for Nigerians to respond in kind by trampling on his political ambition and sending him back to Otuoke," the party said.

PDP governors flay APC

Meanwhile, PDP governors yesterday said that the APC had no plan for the country and described it as a blackmailer and an agent of destabilisation.

Akpabio who is the chairman, PDP Governors' Forum and governor of Akwa Ibom State, said at the president's declaration that the ruling party would not hand over to sponsors of terrorism.

He added that opposition was fighting selfish war, stressing that the PDP would not be intimidated.

The governor acknowledged that the road to 2015 would not be smooth, but that the party will be victorious in the forthcoming presidential election.

At the corporate headquarters of the TAN in Abuja as well as other states of the federation monitored over the phone, following the president's declaration, there was much celebration.

Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani said that never again would the Igbo suffer marginalisation, thanks to the president's systematic empowerment. He noted that the Igbo would support Jonathan so that the second Niger Bridge would not become an abandoned project. He said that the poor condition of the Onitsha-Enugu road and Enugu-Port Harcourt road could only get attention under a watchful eye of the transformation agenda exponent.

Alhaji Fatai Shodimu, who spoke on behalf of commercial road workers shortly before the declaration stated that Jonathan was first and only president who had ever done something concrete to support the over 10 million people in the sector. He pointed out that the president's revolution in the area of road reconstruction and rehabilitation had been of immense contribution to the maintenance of their vehicles.

Major Lancelot Anyaya supported Jonathan for being the most agriculture-friendly leader and that this had resulted in farmers getting soft loans, grants, e-wallet, high-yielding seedlings, fertilizers and other facilities, leading to drastic reduction in the nation's food import bill.

Chief Olabode George, on behalf of the South-West noted that no other president had ever impacted the zone positively as the incumbent, pointing out that Jonathan would soon be endorsed publicly at the Yoruba Unity Summit.

Source: The Guardian
President Goodluck Jonathan 4777365870509695184

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