‘Where is the single-term agreement?’ Presidency challenges governors

The Presidency, speaking through the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr Ahmed Gulak, has challenged those who claimed that President Goodluck Jonathan signed an agreement to spend only one term to produce proof of the agreement.

Gulak, who said this on an African Independent Television programme, Focus Nigeria, in Abuja yesterday, added that nobody could intimidate the President and stop him from running in 2015.

The Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, had on Liberty FM, Kaduna, on Saturday claimed that Jonathan signed an agreement with the Peoples Democratic Party’s governors not to seek re-election in 2015.

This is the second time that Gulak has denied his principal signing any such agreement, the first in a newspaper interview on Sunday. He reiterated his earlier statement, saying that he was very sure that such an agreement was never signed by the President and if there was, the governors should produce the agreement. He also accused Governor Aliyu of making such statements because of his personal ambitions for 2015.

Gulak added, “We are all Nigerians and if you want to pursue your own ambition, like I have always said, you have the right. You have the right to pursue your ambition to be the President of Nigeria. But you don’t have to concoct stories to justify your ambition.

“President Jonathan never signed such a pact, but only gave Nigerians the general guarantee of one-man, one- vote and that no one has the political strength to intimidate the President to run away from his constitutional right of contesting the next elections, should he decide to do so.

“I am hoping that a forged document claiming that Jonathan agreed to spend only one term would not be produced.”

The presidential aide also said that the recent sacking of some Peoples’ Democratic Party officials was not targeted at former President Olusegun Obasanjo or indicative of a crisis between Jonathan and Obasanjo as the party was only obeying court judgements.

“Somebody took the party to court challenging the emergence of our officers from the South-West. Unless and until the judgment is upturned, it remains valid.

“If the PDP fails to abide by the judgment, the same Nigerians will accuse the party of being lawless.”

Meanwhile, more details have emerged yesterday on how the accord the President allegedly signed with the governors that he would serve for only a single term.

It was learnt that the decision to grant Jonathan one more term was due to the tension created in the party after the death of former President Umaru Yar’adua, with northern governors and prominent leaders insisting that the north be allowed to complete its eight-year rule like Obasanjo did.

President Jonathan was then granted four more years to enable him complete the joint ticket he had with the late President as his deputy.

The then National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Rufai Alkali, had announced the party’s decision after the NEC meeting, however, saying other aspirants would not be disallowed from contesting with the President for the party’s sole ticket.

“NEC took time to review the origin and essence of the zoning principle as enshrined in the PDP Constitution. In view of historical antecedents and contemporary realities and in order to ensure justice, equity and fairness, NEC unanimously endorsed the retention of the zoning principle in the PDP Constitution.

“NEC also observed that President Goodluck Jonathan is serving out the first four year term of the joint ticket with the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and therefore has the right to contest the remaining four-year term of their joint ticket in 2011.

“NEC however resolved that this will not of course exclude any other Nigerian from any part of the country from contesting the Presidential primaries for the 2011 general elections,” Alkali had said.

The campaign to convince the NEC of the party to allow the President run in the election had been led by the former chairman of the party, Dr Okesileweze Nwodo. Nwodo had argued that since both the late President and Jonathan came into power with a joint ticket, he said it was better for the party to allow Jonathan carry on with the ticket in the absence of Yar’Adua.

He had also cited the case of Adamawa State where the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was picked as the running mate to Obasanjo; he forfeited his position as the governor-elect to his then running mate, Boni Haruna.

He said that when Haruna completed the tenure of Atiku in 2003, he also contested the governorship election again in 2007 without the party complaining.

Nwodo said that despite the numerous court cases by his traducers, Haruna came out of these cases triumphantly.

The motion to adopt his speech was then moved by Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema and seconded by the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih.

The President also enjoyed the intercession of former Governor of old Bendel State, Dr Samuel Ogbemudia who argued he was enlisted in the army based on zoning. He also compared the then situation to that of the circumstances that emerged after former Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed, was assassinated in the 1976 abortive coup which led to the emergence of General Olusegun Obasanjo as the Head of State. This action, he said, led to the promotion of Lt. Col. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua to the rank of a Major-General, which enabled him to become the number two citizen.

 

This argument was said to have been the clincher in convincing the NEC members to agree that Jonathan should be allowed to run in 2011.

However, none of the current NWC members was willing to speak on the current issue as they considered it too delicate to wade in, especially in the light of the recent problems of the party.

A member of the NWC, who agreed to speak anonymously, said the President was aware that there was a pact between him and the party in 2010.

“There is no way the President would have kept quiet over such a sensitive issue if he had no such pact with the governors,” the member said.

The Herald NG

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