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President Goodluck Jonathan

There is palpable disquiet in the camp of President Goodluck Jonathan over the stance of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo that it has not endorsed any Presidential candidate for the 2011 elections. Early in the year when pressure was mounting that Jonathan should become acting-president over the continued absence of late President Umar Yar' Adua, the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), led by Dr. Atuboyedia Obianime had met with chieftains of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Ohanaeze Ndigbo drumming support for Jonathan.

After he was inaugurated as the substantive president, the INC continued its meetings with the Ohanaeze preparing the ground for Jonathan ahead of the 2011 elections.

At a recent meeting held in Yenagoa, the INC and Ohanaeze, led by Ambassador Ralph Uwechue had fruitful deliberations bordering on the 2011 elections which excited the INC leaders.

Obianime, in an interview with Daily Sun reacting to an alliance talks between the camp of General Ibrahim Babangida and some notable Igbo politicians had exuded confidence that Ohanaeze had not said anything contrary to what they agreed at the Yenagoa meeting.

However, all appears to have changed with Ohanaeze Ndigbo distancing itself from the South-east political summit which endorsed Jonathan for the 2011 elections.

The declaration by the Ohanaeze has thrown the Jonathan's camp off the edge with prominent Ijaw leaders blaming the INC over the poor handling of the negotiation.

According to sources, impression the INC leadership painted was that it had secured the support of Ohanaeze only for the Jonathan's camp to be disappointed when the group declined public support for him.

Prof. Kimse Okoko, immediate past president of the INC and president of Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of the Niger Delta (CENND) has carpeted the INC for the shoddy handling of the deliberations with other socio-cultural groups as part of efforts to galvanise support for Jonathan.

Okoko, in an interview with Daily Sun said the INC allowed itself to be tossed around by the ACF and Ohanaeze Ndigbo because they lacked the requisite skills to handle matters as weighty as presidential ambition.

He noted that unless the dynamics of Nigeria's politics was well understood, any intervention would end up in a failure like that of the INC.

'I have always said that INC has lost focus and vigour in handling this kind of issue. They are not looking at the fundamentals but only at the surface. And again they have been left in the cold. One needs political maturity and deep knowledge to handle matters like this. They started with the North and what they said was the outcome was different from what the northerners said.

They also held another meeting with the South-east and what is happening is different from what they told people was the outcome. Of course I have never believed them. Now the South-east has also dealt with them. I don't know where they want to go next, perhaps Middle Belt but one has to understand that the Middle Belt is a tricky situation that should be really understood before starting anything.'

Okoko disclosed that CENND had in the past supported the bid of President Goodluck Jonathan to become president in 2011 and would ensure that it galvanized support for him.

While insisting that CENND was not a political group but a socio-cultural group, the university don stressed the group would soon be meeting to reaffirm its support for Jonathan.

'Don't forget that CENND is not a political group but a socio-cultural group. We have long ago issued a statement supporting his (Jonathan) bid for presidency. Very soon we're going to hold another meeting to review the situation to reaffirm our stand,' he added.