The presidency, last week, denied some 2015 campaign posters of President Goodluck Jonathan, which recently flooded Abuja, including some parts of the State House. The denial notwithstanding, sponsors of the idea may have, however, achieved their target even as dirty poster politics appears the in-thing.
Naturally, when elections approach, it is trite that posters of different aspirants or candidates are usually the first campaign tool designed to create awareness as well as woo the electorate for the intended offices. But when posters come a bit earlier than necessary, it goes beyond the traditional votes canvassing strategy; in such an instance, it speaks more to dirty politics. It is for such reason that the central characters for whom the fall plot is conceived are quick to dissociating themselves from the trend. For them, the implications are grave.
President Goodluck Jonathan was the latest victim, so to say, of dirty poster politics. His posters- all gloss- were pasted all over the streets of Abuja on the eve of the New Year. Designed this way: "2015: No vacancy in Aso Rock. Let's do more. One good term deserves another. Support Dr. Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan for 2015 Presidency", the posters were courtesy of a group, South-south People's Action Group. It has since stoked expectedly controversy and in proportionate measures.
But before the Jonathan experience was Ekiti where some poorly produced posters of Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Budget and Research had flooded town, ostensibly gunning for governorship in an election slated for next year and on the platform of Labour Party.
While elements loyal to the government of the state are fingered in the ploy to pre-empt the lawmaker and possibly stall whatever he was allegedly planning, he had since denied the posters and also accused his co-party members as the brain behind it.
Buttressing this, former governor of the state, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, had also alleged campaign of calumny by the state and had warned perpetrators to steer clear of him.
Immediate past governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris once had a feel of such filthy politics when posters insinuating that he nursed senatorial ambition were pasted on the streets of Lokoja. But his then media aide, Mr. Richard Elesho, immediately denied knowledge of it.
In another breath, just before his death, former Kwara State governor, Alhaji Mohammed Lawal, was served similar treatment when his posters were pasted on the streets of Ilorin on grounds that he had been arrested and detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Although, he was then on sick bed in the United Kingdom, he was compelled to refute the embarrassment the development had caused him, given the stain anything pertaining to EFCC is believed to bring on personalities.
However, the Jonathan case has elicited as much concern because it centres more around the 2015 presidential election and coming at a time the 19 northern governors had resolved not to support any presidential candidate from the southern part of the country in 2015.
Thus, to think that the Governors Sule Lamido and Rotimi Amaechi rumoured ticket is already generating uneasy calm by some members of the party makes the posters issue curious. But none of these appears potent to stifle prominent Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, from declaring that Jonathan would seek re-election in 2015.
In the face of the grit of the northern governors to close rank and push forward a consensus candidate in their agitation for power to return to the North, the Jonathan poster politics has opened further, the already simmering debate on the 2015 election.
This is because many observers are of the opinion that the country risks constitutional crisis if Jonathan seeks reelection in 2015. Dr. Junaid Mohammed, for instance, argued that Jonathan had taken the oath of office as president twice and could therefore not constitutionally take a third one.
Also, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Cyriacus Njoku, has been in court over this. According to a suit filed at an Abuja High Court, he is challenging the suitability of a Jonathan seeking a second term in office, given the way he emerged president.
Relying on Section 136 of the 1999 Constitution which regulates the number of times public office holders are permitted to take the oath of office, Njoku maintained that Jonathan was not qualified to seek re-election, having being sworn in as president on May 6, 2010 and May 29, 2011.
The debate notwithstanding, Jonathan has kept mute on whether or not he would contest in 2015, much as some lawyers believe that the constitutionality of his eligibility is not subject to debate. For these people, the issue of whether or not he would re-contest is his decision.
Though, the Vice-President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo and Jonathan's Special Adviser on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji, had once promised that the president would announce his intention after last year's Ramadan, just to suspend the debate. But as the main character, Jonathan has yet said anything.
But while quelling innuendoes that had since followed the controversial posters, Senior Special Adviser to Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, also denied both the posters and those behind it. To this he said: "The President has no hands in posters in Abuja campaigning for his election in 2015."
He noted that those behind the posters were merely expressing their views and not the President's. But he explained that the president would talk about his ambition in 2014. "Those doing these do not have the consent of the President," he said, adding that the president is currently concerned with delivering on his electoral promises.
Whichever way this is viewed, observers believed that the development has raised two things: First, it is either the president is interested in a re-election and as such, had started to test the waters or that the forces behind the posters are doing so to stampede him to reveal his next political move.
Interestingly however, as envisaged in THISDAY's preview for the New Year, the countdown to 2015 may have begun in earnest. But in the final analysis, observers believed that whatever option the president settles for would ultimately determine the shape and temperature of the 2015 election.