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Second term: Jonathan set to break silence

By The Rainbow
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President Goodluck Jonathan is set to declare his intention to seek re-election during the 2015 presidential election. The poll has been fixed for February 14 next year by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Following the release of the election timetable by INEC on Friday, the Presidency on Saturday said Jonathan would make public his decision on the 2015 presidential election soon.

President Jonathan has so far resisted pressure to declare his intention regarding 2015. On different occasions, he said he would only make his decision known this year.

Last Thursday, while speaking on the sidelines of the just-concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jonathan said he was awaiting INEC's green light.

He said, 'I am not going to talk about whether I am standing for election or not because it is not in line with our laws. INEC has a time frame within which candidates are expected to declare. If you declare before that time, you are actually contravening the Nigerian laws. So, I won't tell anybody that I am contesting or that I'm not contesting.'

The 2015 ambition of the President has become controversial with loyalists and opponents of Jonathan heating the polity with their statements.

While some prominent South-South leaders have threatened that they will make the country ungovernable if the President is not given a second term, northern elders have claimed that the President signed a one-term agreement and must honour it; a claim the Presidency has refuted many times.

Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr. Ahmed Gulak, confirmed to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday that with the release of the  election timetable by INEC, the coast was clear for Jonathan to declare.

Gulak said out of the six geo-political zones in the country, Jonathan had completed consultations in four -South-South, South-East, South-West and North-West - with stakeholders in the zones asking him to seek re-election.

Gulak said, 'You will recall that the President's position has remained that he will make his position on the next election known this year. Now that INEC has released timetable for the election, the President will make his position known very soon upon completion of ongoing consultations.

'I can confirm to you that consultation has been completed in South-South, South-East, South -West and North-West with stakeholders in the four zones asking the President to re-contest in 2015.'

However, Gulak did not say when Jonathan made the consultations or how.

When contacted on Saturday, INEC reaffirmed that with the release of the election timetable, aspirants for the 2015 general elections were free to declare their intentions to contest.

The commission's Director (Media Affairs),  Mr. Nick Dazang, told SUNDAY PUNCH that aspirants could declare their ambition but could not campaign before November 16.

Dazang said, 'Aspirants can declare their ambitions and nobody is against that; but by law, they are not supposed to campaign, until 90 days to the election; that is from November 16.

'I mean 90 days to the election is when campaign is supposed to begin. After that, the political parties can begin to conduct primaries and in the course of the primaries, candidates that will contest the election will emerge.'

Meanwhile, one of our correspondents learnt on Saturday that the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party would meet soon to review the election timetable.

A member of the committee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the committee would meet in order to debate the timetable, fees for nomination forms and dates for all the events, including the primary elections.

He said, 'We will meet soon to discuss the timetable. We will look at it and take decisions, like how much we will charge for the primaries and the dates.'

Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, has described the release of the timetable as a welcome development.

He said, 'The INEC timetable is part of democratic process, PDP is a law-abiding party; we are guided by the procedure for electoral processes. We will participate fully in the entire process, our job is to sensitise the various organs of our party to mobilise and rally for the election.

'We are not unmindful of the machinations of the opposition, who have become undemocratic in their actions and activities. We heard that they would instruct their members in the National Assembly not to participate in the electoral process. Let me put it unequivocally that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria, with or without the All Progressives Congress.'

The Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Lai Mohammed, has said that his party will soon meet to take a decision on the timetable.

Mohammed said, 'There are so many angles to it. INEC has just released its timetable, the party will have to meet first, and we can't rush to make a statement now without meeting. We will look at the timetable and work towards it.'