Daily Trust (Abuja)

31 August 2014

Nigeria: President Jonathan's Ministers Strategise As 2015 Poll Draws Nearer

Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Osogbo, Ilorin, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, Sokoto — Ministers, especially those from all Progressive Congress are already strategising for his re-election bid ahead of the 2015 presidential election.

Sunday Trust looks at what these Ministers from the opposition-controlled states are doing.

Wali, Shekarau, Sani in full control of Jonathan's campaign team in Kano

In Kano State, the two main men of President Jonathan are Ambassador Aminu Wali, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, the former governor of the state, who recently became the Minister of Education.

The two Ministers are being supported by Dr. Barka Sani, who left the cabinet of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to take an appointment in the presidency. She is the president's aide on Schools Agriculture Programme.

Though the three personalities are from Nasarawa local government, they are reportedly reaching out to members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 44 local government areas of the state in the ongoing effort to sell the candidacy of President Jonathan.

In the just concluded congresses of the party, they ensure that only candidates who will be loyal to them and by extension President Jonathan emerge. Their foot soldiers are using political programmes on local radio stations to promote the candidature of President Jonathan.

Few weeks ago, when Mallam Shekarau returned to Kano shortly after he assumed office as the Minister of Education, the reception organised for him was turned to President Jonathan's campaign. To many, the gathering that attracted massive crowd was the launch of Jonathan's 2015 campaigns in the state.

Shekarau, who was seen as the most popular personality in the state's PDP, had since revived his political structures in the 44 local government areas.

Until his defection and subsequent ministerial appointment, Ambassador Wali is the link between members of the PDP in Kano and the presidency. He is still the leader of the party in the state.

Wali, a loyal member of the PDP, is not leaving any stone unturned in order to ensure that party succeeds in 2015. He is said to be working with Shekarau in order to empower key members of the party in the state to enable them garner the financial muscle to withstand the APC) ahead of the general elections.

On her part, Dr Barka Sani is mobilising the women folks for President Jonathan ahead of 2015.

But analysts are of the view that they may face great challenge in 2015 because of the popularity of one of the key leaders of the APC retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari and the performance of Governor Kwankwaso.

The many strategies of Obanikoro

Since the appointment of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro from Lagos State as the Minister of State, Defence, he has left no one in doubt where his loyalty belongs. A former Senator and the former Nigerian ambassador to Ghana, Obanikoro still has a reasonable clout within the Lagos State chapter of the PDP, an attraction political observers, say made his acceptability to the President irresistible.

Popularly called 'Koro' by his admirers, the Minister of State, Defence has hardly settled in office when he launched, what many have described, a major offensive against the state government to announce his control of certain federal might. Prior to Koro's appointment, the Babatunde Fashola-led administration has embarked on the construction of a housing estate at the sand-filled section of lagoon in a place popularly called Ilubinrin. But barely few days after Koro's confirmation as the Minister of State, Defence, some military officers, purportedly acting on his order, stormed the construction site and chased the workers out of the place. The argument was that the designated site belonged to Federal Government. An argument the state government rebuffed. It took a number of days before construction exercise resumed at the site. Again, before the minister's emergence, some young Nigerians were normally seen at the former Toll Gate end of Lagos/Ibadan Expressway gathering every morning for activities, many residents claimed were not known to them. Many of them were always seen wearing a T-Shirt with bold inscription, SURE-P Special Task Force. However, on May 20, 2014, the activities of these young Nigerians gained prominence when they made daring attempts to take over traffic controls on major federal highways after chasing LASTMA officers who the state government had always used for similar exercises away. Insiders had claimed at that time that the SURE-P Task force officers were actually acting a script by Obanikoro.

Pundits argue that any move to create disaffection in the state is capable of swinging victory at the direction of the PDP in the gubernatorial and presidential elections.

Some analysts say Obanikoro's election winning job spreads beyond the shore of Lagos State. In the last couple of months, the minister was known to have actively participated in elections in the three south western states of Ondo, Ekiti and Osun. A victory for PDP in all of these elections is regarded as victory for Mr President.

Few weeks after the Ondo bye-election, the train of Obanikoro and his foot soldiers berthed in Ekiti state. While prominent members of the APC, including Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State were barred from entering the state by security forces, Koro and his allies had unassailable access.

A development many believed aided the victory of the PDP candidate, Ayodele Fayose against the incumbent, Governor Kayode Fayemi. A similar occurrence was re-enacted in Osun state where Koro and his counterpart from the Ministry of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan led battle for the PDP candidate, Iyiola Omisore against Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the APC. Aregbesola eventually won.

2015: We will deliver Osun for Jonathan- Police Affairs Minister

Obanikoro's counterpart from Osun State and the Minister of Police Affairs Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan recently boasted that Jonathan would win in his state. Adesiyan, who hails from Ode-Omun in Ayedaade local government area, said he was determined to appreciate his appointment by ensuring that Jonathan got the second term.

The Minister, who got the appointment through the influence of his political associate, Senator Omisore, is expected to join force with his benefactor to gain votes for Mr President.

Jonathan told Olanrewaju to deliver Kwara

Dr. Abubakar Olanrewaju Sulaiman's appointment as a Minister from Kwara State has placed on him the enormous task of capturing the state for the PDP and working hard for the yet-to-be declared re-election bid of President Jonathan in the 2015 general elections.

When the Minister, a University of Abuja don, was being inaugurated to take charge of the National Planning Ministry, the President pointedly told him: "You must deliver Kwara for PDP".

The Minister did not only hail from the same Ajikobi ward and Ilorin West Local Government with Senator Bukola Saraki, both cast their vote in the same Ode Opobiyi polling unit.

Besides, other notable PDP stakeholders like first daughter of late Dr. Olusola Saraki, Senator Gbemisola Rukayyat Saraki, Professor Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem, Hajia Muhinat Bola Sagaya hail from the same ward, campaigning vigorously with determined mien for the PDP and Jonathan.

Sunday Trust gathered that with the conglomeration of stakeholders and power brokers within the party, the Minister has been holding series of meetings along with the party executive on the need to ensure unity within the party.

Wakil can't do much in Borno

In Borno State, moves towards actualizing the emergence of President Jonathan as the candidate of the PDP in 2015 have not started except the recent planned defection of a former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff that prompts the display of posters and flags of the ruling party at the centre.

In February, Mohammed Wakil, the Minister of State, Power, became minister after the PDP had suffered from defections by its officials and members at the state and local government levels in Borno.

Since his appointment, Wakil could not do anything tangible in Borno because of what his supporters describe as unfavorable condition.They say the insecurity situation in the state does not warrant politicking. However, he has been speaking on the efforts of the Federal Government to cushion the effects of the insurgency.

Penultimate week, he was at the camps of the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Gombe State and in Biu, southern part of Borno State where he donated relief materials to the victims of insurgency on behalf of Mrs Patience, wife of President Jonathan.

Wike, Danagogo are committed to Jonathan's re-election in Rivers

At the centre of Jonathan's campaign project in Rivers State is the Minister of State, Education, Barrister Nyesom Wike.

The irreconcilable political difference between Governor Chibuike Amaechi and Wike has placed the minister in a vintage position to take over the leadership of the PDP in the State. As soon as Wike hijacked the party structure, he dismantled all the structures put in place by Amaechi and installed his stooges. The minister has set up a political structure that is called Grassroot Development Initiative (GDI). The minister has been using the platform to campaign for President Jonathan's 2015 presidential ambition. The group recently embarked on the tour of 23 local government areas of the State to campaign for President Jonathan. At each local government council the group visited, the campaign slogan has been "Rivers vote is President Jonathan". The group has also embarked on the installation of giant billboards bearing the portrait of President Jonathan.

Another strategy adopted by the minister to campaign for President Jonathan was the recent appointment of Dr Tammy Danagogo as the Minister of Sports. Danagogo was Amaechi's Commissioner for Urban Development. He is a very strong ally of Wike. His recent appointment as a minister was to douse the tension among the Kalabari speaking part of the State where Governor Amaechi has indicted President Jonathan over the ceding of Soku oil wells to Bayelsa State. Governor Amaechi has in the past used the Soku oil wells as a campaign issue against Jonathan, thereby creating suspicion among the Kalabari ethnic nationalities. With the appointment of Danagogo as a minister, the political calculation is to douse the tension over Soku oil wells and assuage their support towards Jonathan's 2015 project.

The Sports minister is now working with the minister to garner support from the Kalabaris axis of the State for President Jonathan. Wike, who has made Rivers State his second home since the beginning of Jonathan's 2015 project, now visits Port Harcourt twice a week to campaign for Jonathan.

Maku is holding meetings

In Nasarawa State, Labaran Maku, the information minister, has been mobilizing support for President Jonathan ahead of 2015 despite his repeated sayings that he does not have the permission of his boss to campaign now.

Maku's recent mobilization visits include the meetings with paramount rulers from who he sought support to beat the drums for Jonathan. Maku was also in Gadabuke in Toto Local Government Area. He held a meeting with the Fulani community in Nasarawa-Eggon, his own home town. The minister was in Akwanka, Nasarawa town, Panda, Agwada and a couple of other locations where he raised his fingers and enumerated the achievements of his boss in the North and Nasarawa State in particular.

Alhassan can't do much for Jonathan in Sokoto

Many political observers in Sokoto state believe that Dr.Haliru Alhassan, the Minister of State, Health has little contribution to offer in a bid to ensure the re-election of his boss, President Jonathan for some reasons. He is not known to be in partisan politics. Alhassan, who is a trained medical doctor, has never held any political appointment in Sokoto state. He is just known as a personal physician to the former Governor Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, who has promised to deliver Sokoto State to Jonathan in 2015.

Muideen Olaniyi, Ismail Mudashir, Nurudeen Oyewole, Abdul-Hameed Oyegbade, Abdullateef Aliyu, Hamza Idris, Victor Edozie, Hir Joseph,  and Abubakar Auwal

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