The presidency Wednesday responded to a call by the breakaway faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urging President Goodluck Jonathan not to contest the 2015 presidential election, stating that “their dreams that the president should not present himself for re-election is not realisable.”
Also, the presidency said the outburst from the Abubakar Kawu Baraje-led splinter group was indicative that there is no crisis within the ruling party, as what is supposedly seen as a crisis, “is nothing but the personal ambitions of the ‘rebel governors’ and their protégés.”
On Tuesday, the New PDP had asked the president not to contest the 2015 presidential election and urged him to be a hero by saving the country from a needless crisis.
But in an interview with THISDAY, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, dismissed the demand of the New PDP, saying: “God is gradually bringing their supposed grievances out. Is the president’s participation in the 2015 presidential election supposed to be a grievance?
“If their grievance is that President Jonathan should not contest the forthcoming presidential election, then that dream is not realisable.
“The only person who can stop that dream of the president to contest the presidential election is the president himself. When he says that he is not contesting, Nigerians would either vote for him or not.
“But it is not the Governors of Kano, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Adamawa, Jigawa and Kwara State that will tell him what to do.
“If that is their dream that the president should forgo his constitutional right and not contest, then that dream is not realisable. Nobody can stop him, other than himself, if he chooses not to contest. If he chooses to contest, then their dreams would not be realisable.”
The special adviser stressed that Nigeria as a nation is governed by laws and that so far, “Jonathan would not be violating any of the known laws by deciding to contest the 2015 presidential election. No known law in the country has said that the president cannot contest. It is therefore Nigerians that would decide his fate, should he decide to contest.”
However, he said: “If any of the governors or anyone within the so-called faction, thinks that he is a presidential material and wants to contest, let that person step out as Nigerians would decide the person’s fate.
“They should come out and test their popularity. That is the beauty of democracy of one-man, one-vote.
“But let it be known that this grandstanding and intimidations will not stop the president should he decide to contest the 2015 presidential election,” Gulak said.
He explained that with what is happening and with the statement by the Baraje faction of the PDP, it is clear that there is no crisis within the ruling party.
“From what was published yesterday (Tuesday) from Abubakar Baraje’s group, it is evidently clear that there is no crisis in PDP, but some people are moved by their personal ambitions to contest and see President Jonathan as their stumbling block.
“However, this is a free world. If anyone of them wants to contest, the person is free to come and contest. The president is not stopping anybody. But in the final analysis, the final decision is for Nigerians to make,” he said.
The presidency’s response to the demand of the New PDP coincided with a ruckus that took place in the Senate yesterday between senators aligned with the faction and those still belonging to the mainstream PDP.
The clash occurred during a debate, when Senator Danjuma Goje, representing Gombe Central, introduced himself as a member of the New PDP.
Goje, a former Governor of Gombe State, had remarked during a motion in honour of the late former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, who passed on September 13, that he had worked with the deceased in what he described as the “Old PDP”, when both of them were governors and ministers respectively.
While emphasising that he now belonged to the New PDP under the leadership of Baraje, Goje caused a great stir in the chamber, before he was interrupted by a point of order by Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West).
Apparently taking advantage of his comments, the opposition senators largely helped to fuel the commotion in the chamber as they shouted in solidarity with Goje.
The overwhelming noise at this stage overshadowed Adeyemi’s repeated shouts of “point of order” while a visibly irritated Senate President David Mark remarked, “This is a hallowed chamber. Don’t let us reduce it to a market square.”
Citing Order 53 (7) in Senate Standing Rules, Adeyemi argued that Goje’s remark that he belonged to the New PDP was offensive, saying it was regrettable that Goje, a former governor and sitting senator on the platform of PDP, could claim to belong to another platform, describing the utterance as unprofessional.
But as tensions in the chamber rose and the argument shifted over who was the de facto chairman of the ruling party, Mark ruled that it was not right for anyone to bring any issue bordering on who is chairman of the PDP or not to the floor of the Senate, emphasising that such debates should never take place in the parliament.
Furthermore, Mark argued that PDP remained one united party and insisted that since Goje admitted that he was a member of PDP, there was no cause for alarm.
On that premise, the senate president asked Goje to continue with his submission, thus bringing an end to the commotion.
Goje had while speaking on the motion moved by Senator Boluwaji Kunlere (Ondo South) on the late Agagu, recalled that he (Goje) was a Minister of State for Power while Agagu was the substantive Minister of Power, describing the late politician as an extremely humble man, in whose tenure as minister, the common friction between ministers and ministers of state never occurred.
Describing Agagu further as a highly articulate person and an intellect of note, Goje recalled how the departed encouraged him to embark on rural electrification nationwide when he served under him as minister of state.
While presenting the motion, Kunlere who recalled the life and times of Agagu, submitted that in his tenure as Ondo State governor, he recorded major achievements in the area of education with the establishment of Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, as well as the construction of modern blocks of classrooms across the 18 local government areas of the state.
He also said the late former governor opened up the riverine areas of Ondo State with the construction of roads and bridges for the first time in the state’s history and facilitated the establishment of the Omotosho power plant, adding that Agagu’s role in the establishment of Olokola Free Trade Zone (OFTZ) would remain evergreen in the memory of Ondo people.
After observing a minute silence in honour of the departed, the Senate resolved to send a delegation to commiserate with his family as well as the people and government of Ondo State.