NOW THAT JONATHAN HAS AGREED TO RUN, WHAT NEXT?
At a meeting with the leadership of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Good Luck Jonathan officially informed them of his intention to seek reelection next year. He made good his promise by picking the party's Nomination Form as well as the Expression of Interest Form at the party's National Secretariat in Abuja on the 30th of October this year.
Earlier, the President had set up a committee that would work out the modalities for his declaration. The Committee is headed by the former Minister of Defense, Dr. Haliru Bellow as Chairman and former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani as Deputy Chairman, while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim is to serve as the Secretary to the Committee.
While throwing more lights on what prompted the meeting of the party leaders with Mr. President, a national daily quoted a source as saying: “We met with the President at the State House and explained to him the need for the party to strictly adhere to the Electoral Act and the guidelines issued by the party at the last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting… At the meeting with him, the President's attention was drawn to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) report on the 2012 National Convention of the party which was nullified because it did not follow due process. So, our meeting with the President underscored the need to ensure that due process is followed.”
It was therefore agreed that the Electoral Act and the guidelines for the PDP Presidential Primary should be followed. And in following the guidelines, the President will buy the Presidential nomination form as well as the expression of interest form and pay all the necessary fees which about 44 groups made donations to the President for him to purchase the form. It will however be recalled that a group had sought to purchase both the Nomination and the Expression of Interest Forms for the President.
However, before different donations to the President was made public by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, a Presidential Fund Raising Committee had already been set up by the President. The Committee headed by the former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Professor Jerry Gana has the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma, BUA Group of Companies Chairman, Ishaku Rabiu, Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka among others as members.
It will be recalled that over 8, 000 different socio-political groups had gathered at the Eagle Square Abuja in the month of September, calling on the President to seek reelection next year with an assurance that, they would all vote for him.
Nonetheless, now that the President has agreed to run and has added flesh to his bone promise by picking the party's Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms, what is going to be the next face of the campaign? In my view, the next battleground should be on grassroots mobilization, sensitization and voters education. We have about 8,812 electoral wards in the country, so if the more than 8,000 groups that called on the President to seek reelection should establish the kind of presence they have in Abuja in these wards, there is no way the President and the party cannot win in more than 30 states out of the current 36 states in the country. Why I say so is because, most times, some voters don't know Presidential Candidates by their names. Instead, they only vote for the candidates through their parties and logos.
In Fact, at this stage that the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is fuming at the ruling party, the real challenge that should face any of the 8,000 groups that are truly working for President Jonathan's reelection is to start printing the prototypes of the ballot papers and start teaching and showing the electorates how to cast their votes on election day.
In similar vein, since the PDP has adopted the President as its sole Presidential candidate, the real thing expected from these groups is to start carrying both the President's message and the party's logos cum manifestoes to the electorates.
It is not enough urging the President to run when we are going to leave him and the party at the mercy of the opposition. Hence, we should take the support of the President as well as the party to the 8,812 electoral wards, 774 Local Government Areas, 360 Federal Constituencies, 109 Senatorial Districts and the 36 States of the Federation. For those NGOs who don't have the capacity to do so, there should merge or go in to alliance to with stronger ones. They should build formidable structures in key states like Kano, Lagos and Rivers States. This is one of the secrets PDP Project Reloaded used in returning Ekiti State back to the PDP in the June 21 Governorship election held in the state. And with our formidable structures in these key states which is complementing the existing structures of the PDP in those states, President Jonathan would be returned unopposed come February 14, 2015.
But then, experience has also shown that some of the electorates who pledged their votes for the President did not even come out to vote in the 2011 Presidential Election, let alone voting for the candidates of their choice. So, another major challenge is how to inspire or motivate these voters to come out and exercise their franchise on Election Day. I leave this part for now until we get in to election mood proper.
Comrade Edwin Uhara is a Political Strategist, an Activist, Public Affairs Commentator and a Member of PDP Project Reloaded Media Team, Abuja.
Reach him on 07065862479 or [email protected]