Tuesday, 22 January 2013

2015: Jonathan courts North, woos ex-govs

SIGNALS that President Goodluck Jonathan has started plotting how to grab the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2015 election emerged on Monday with the President reaching out to respective former governors of Zamfara and Borno states, Ahmed Yerima and Ali Modu-Sheriff.
Our correspondent learnt that the President wanted the two influential politicians in their respective states to strengthen his hold in the north.
The President, a source told The PUNCH, had in fact asked the duo to defect to the PDP. The two ex-governors are members of the All Nigeria Peoples Party.
The two former governors, it was gathered, would help the President neutralise the anti-Jonathan sentiment in the north where top politicians are clamouring for power shift from the South.
The calculations in the President’s team, investigation further revealed, are that these two prominent politicians will also come to the PDP with their state governors.
The governors are said to be protégées of the former governors.
For example, Yerima was said to have single-handedly installed the incumbent governor of his state, Alhaji Abubakar Yari, after he fell out with Alhaji Mahmuda Shinkafi, who succeeded him while leaving office in 2007.
Shinkafi was Yerima’s deputy for eight years and was the only deputy governor that succeeded his boss among the 36 deputy governors in the country then.
In Borno, Modu-Sheriff was also believed to have installed the incumbent governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima.
Our correspondent learnt that the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, had already met with both Yari and Shettima to discuss the modalities for the governors to dump their party for the PDP.
One of the carrots being dangled before the governors, which our correspondent gathered they could fall for, is the promise to allow them fly the flag of the PDP in their desire to go for second term.
Both governors are on their first term, and like Jonathan, they are said to be interested in contesting second term.
The romance between the two governors and Jonathan was said to have been behind the exclusion of the ANPP from being part of the merger talks of the Congress for Progressive Change and Action Congress of Nigeria.
 It will be recalled that the National Leader of the CPC and former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) had excluded the ANPP while inaugurating his party’s merger committee.
Asked why the CPC merger committee was not going to meet with the ANPP, Buhari said, “We have written priority (with ACN) and we are going to go into discussion with ACN before we move to the other party.”
A member of the committee and the party’s governorship candidate in Enugu State during the 2011 election, Chief Osita Okechukwu, said his party was aware that the PDP had some associates within the ANPP.
He said, “You know within ANPP, there are some associates of PDP there and that was what the General was particular about because some of these elements might not allow the merger to work.
“So why don’t we make sure that it works before allowing everybody to come in.”
Also, the President was said to have recalled Nigeria’s Ambassador to Canada, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, to join a crusade to neutralise those opposed to his second term bid.
The former minister is a member of the Prof. Jerry Gana committee saddled with the responsibility of reorganising the party’s Board of Trustees.
Presidency sources said the ambassador might not return to his base soon because of the “urgent” assignment he has to do for the President here.
One of the sources said, “The President is very serious about his second term ambition and I can tell you that serious plotting is going on now.
“Maduekwe is in the country now and he may not return to his base in Canada because of this urgent assignment.
“The President is taking the threat of the governors and other notable leaders of the party against his second term ambition seriously and does not want to take anything for granted.”
Part of the plot, it was further gathered, was to disallow the National Legal Adviser of the party, Mr. Victor Kwon, from representing the party in the case involving the suspended National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
Already, Tukur has written a letter to Kwon, asking him to steer clear of the case and allow Mr. Joe Gadzama (SAN) to take over the case and represent the party.
Like Tukur, Gadzama is from Adamawa State.
Tukur believes that Kwon is sympathetic to Oyinlola, who is seen to be working in tandem with a majority of the members of the National Working Committee of the party and governors, against the second term ambition of Jonathan.

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