Abuja — THE Abubakar Kawu Baraje-led New Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, which has in its fold, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven aggrieved governors, yesterday, asked President Goodluck Jonathan to be a statesman, jettison the idea of re-contesting in 2015 and save Nigeria from what it termed needless crisis.
President Jonathan, while speaking at the 68th session of the United Nations in New York broke his silence on the 2015 presidential election when he disclosed that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allows him to do eight years of two terms.
According to the nPDP, four years in power was enough for a President to showcase himself and make changes in the country in the area of development, adding, "we are worried that Mr. President is intent on running despite his earlier promise not to do so and in spite of the wise counsel of well-meaning Nigerians, including respected elder statesmen."
However, former governors and candidates of the PDP, yesterday, threw their weight behind President Jonathan, saying that it would amount to natural injustice to deny him his constitutional right to seek re-election.
Appealing to the President not to run and save the country from catastrophe against the backdrop that God has been kind to him from a University lecturer to deputy governor and to the present position, the group said, "we wish to appeal to Mr. President to abandon this ill-advised move and save our nation from catastrophe. God has been merciful to you, Mr. President; lifting you from being a university teacher to President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in so short a time is something you should be grateful and be contented with. We urge you Mr. President to listen to the voice of reason and avoid over stretching your good luck. A word is enough for the wise!"
Prominent in the nPDP are Atiku Abubakar, Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Aliyu Babangida of Niger; Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto State; Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers; Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa.
Jonathan should honour his word
In a statement signed, yesterday, by the nPDP National Publicity Secretary, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, the group said: "As a patriotic group that cares about the present and future of our great country and that wants President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to succeed, the Abubakar Kawu Baraje-led Peoples Democratic Party after reviewing the state of the nation and the pulse of Nigerians, wishes to advise President Jonathan to abandon his plan to seek re-election in 2015 as this ambition of his is not in the best interest of the country.
"Though he has yet to categorically declare his intention to run, President Jonathan has given enough clue that he is working towards doing so. The latest of such clues came on Sunday in New York, USA. Speaking at a luncheon with Nigerian professionals in the United States, President Jonathan insisted that he is eligible to contest in 2015 as 'we have a constitution that makes a provision for a maximum of eight years for anyone who wants to become a president or a governor.'
"The President, however, said nothing new as he made a similar claim in April last year in his affidavit in response to the suit instituted at an Abuja High Court by a PDP chieftain, Cyriacus Njoku, seeking to stop him from contesting the 2015 presidential election.
"In February, 2011 while interacting with Nigerians and diplomats working in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union (AU) in Ankara, Turkey, President Jonathan clearly stated: 'I would have loved that the Nigerians in Diaspora vote this year (2011) but to be frank with you, that is going to be difficult now. Presently, the law does not allow voting outside Nigeria and so this year Nigerians in Diaspora will not vote but I will work towards it by 2015 even though I will not be running for election.' Mr. President went ahead to add: 'Four years is enough for anyone in power to make significant improvement and if I can't improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything even if I am there for the next four years.'
"This is a historical fact which Mr. President himself cannot deny now since he had two years to deny that statement but never did so. How does Mr. President want Nigerians and the entire world to see him for this volte face? Why can he not keep his words as a man of honour instead of allowing himself to be misled by selfish advisers to go back on his words, thereby overheating the polity?
Heed voice of Nigerians
The nPDP Continued: "Mr. President should heed the advice of well-meaning distinguished personalities such as constitutional law guru, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN) and Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, all of whom have advised him to correctly read the handwriting on the wall and stay away from the 2015 presidential race.
"By 2015, President Jonathan would have served our nation for six solid years. This, surely, is enough time for him to achieve whatever he is capable of doing for Nigeria. What else is he looking for that is making him desperate to participate in the 2015 presidential election despite warnings that doing so may spark a chain of events capable of culminating into the country's disintegration, thereby bringing to pass the predictions of Lord Lugard that Nigeria as a nation by 2014 may be history, which was later confirmed by the USA Think-Tank that Nigeria may disintegrate by 2015. Apart from all these, should President Jonathan contest and win by 2015 it means he would have spent 10 years in office and will be sworn in three times as the President of Nigeria against the Provisions of the country's constitution."
Jonathan must run - Ex-PDP govs,others
However, former governors and candidates of the PDP, yesterday, went into a marathon meeting for President Jonathan with a vow that nothing should stop him from re-contesting. They, said that it would amount to natural injustice to deny Jonathan another shot at the presidency.
The former PDP governors and candidates who met yesterday at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja under the aegis of G13 Candidates/Former PDP Governors Forum from 3.30pm to 6.30pm, unveiled the Goodluck to Goodluck project, arguing that the draw backs of past governments cannot be ascribed to the Jonathan/Sambo administration.
Speaking after the meeting, the convener of the forum and former governorship candidate of PDP in EdoState, Major Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) urged all well-meaning PDP members to embrace peace and return to the mainstream of the party under the leadership of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
He said: "The constitution provides for eight years for the office and I believe that going by natural justice, if there is a tenant in a house and it is going for sale the first opportunity of refusal should go to the occupant. And I believe that based on the midterm report of the president, we believe that he should be given a second term in office to finish his projects. President Jonathan has the right. It has not been published anywhere that he signed an agreement to run for one term. He should be given support and peaceful environment to implement his projects to completion."
Speaking on the crisis in PDP and the Abubakar Kawu Baraje led nPDP,
Airhiavbere said: "We studied the political impasse, horse trading and war of attrition and belligerence in recent times within and outside the context of our great party, PDP. The intra party conflict classified as family affair must be resolved within the party conflict resolution mechanism of the PDP Round Table Dialogue Initiative, put in place for the reconciliation and all well meaning PDP members should embrace peace and avail themselves of the opportunity given to return back to the mainstream under the leadership of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as one indivisible PDP."
Also present at the meeting were former ministers of Sports, Damishi Sango and Col Abdulmumuni Aminu; Fidelis Seri; former governor of Adamawa State, Boni Haruna; former deputy governor of Ogun state, Alhaji Salimot Badru; governorship candidate of PDP in Ondo State, Olusoka Oke; former Minister of Education, Alhaji Dauda Birmah; Col. John David Dongi (rtd); AIG Donald Iroha.Former deputy governor of Zamfara State, Umar Shinkafi who was not present at the meeting is also a member.
G7-Govs, Baraje's visit to NASS confers no status on them - Abaribe
The Senate yesterday said that the visit of the seven 'rebel' Governors and the factional chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje to the Senate last week conferred no status on them.
Chairman, Senate committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who stated this while briefing Journalists said as aggrieved members of the PDP, they were free to visit the Senate but that did not in any way confer any status on them.
Senator Abaribe said: "On the matter of the visit by the aggrieved members of PDP to the Senate leadership, let me also say that if some members of the Senate approached Mr. President of the Senate (Senator David Mark) and ask for a hearing or a visit by anybody, be it their constituents, friends or by anybody, if the Senate President has the time, then he is obligated or mandated to listen to his colleagues. My understanding was that a group of senators within the same PDP came to the Senate President and said that they wanted to meet with him with some other people and the Senate President graciously allowed them to come so that he would listen to them.
"That is the essence of democracy. We can agree to meet with anybody even those that we don't want or we do not agree with their opinion. Because the essence of democracy is being able to allow people to make their views to be heard and I think that was what happened.
"That was why you saw that there was no problem within the Senate from such visit. As Nigerians, they are entitled to visit and as aggrieved members of the society in many form, they can come to the event with the Senate President and that does not in any way confer anything on them.
"Please, note the use of my words, I said aggrieved members of the PDP, I am talking now not as a Senate spokesman but as a PDP member, we are one family," he stated.