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BIG DEAL ABOUT JONATHAN'S 2011 AMBITION, BY OPARA, NUP BOSS

By NBF News
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National Chairman, National Unity Party (NUP) Chief Perry Opara, has said that President Goodluck Jonathan has been divinely-positioned to lead Nigeria beyond 2011. Opara, who is also President, National Union of Political Parties said to actualize this divine purpose for the country's leadership, he has started a coalition of Political Parties, Civil Society Organization and religious groups across Nigeria: The Big Deal. The Big Deal, according to him, would work assiduously to draft Jonathan into the presidential contest and mobilize support for him within and outside the country to ensue he wins the 2011 presidential election.

The NUP chieftain who spoke at a media parley in Lagos recently said he is not into the Jonathan-for-President campaign because of what he hopes to get from it. His words :'I am as qualified to run for the office of the President, but I am not going to run. As a national chairman of a political party, I have better chances of picking the ticket of my party than Jonathan has of picking the ticket of the PDP. And I am not a poor man by Nigerian standards. I am not campaigning for Jonathan for money. I am doing it because I believe in it.'

Excerpts:
Jonathan and the 2011 polls
I will say, first of all, that till now, Jonathan has not said that he wants to run for any elective position. It's the masses that are seeking to draft him into the race. The people doing this are not only Southerners or people of the Niger Delta. Some progressive elements in the North also feel that he should be the one to lead this country beyond 2011. Those threatening to protest by choosing someone from the North in any party must note that no one region can elect the president all on its own.

They should also recall the difficulty of the consensus option. Certain leading politicians under the aegis of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), in 2003 sought to present a consensus candidate against the governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate but failed at it. Some other leading candidates from the North tried it again in 2007. They failed. Nobody would agree to step down his ambition so that the other person could be supported to face the 'common enemy' they wanted so much to stop.

Only weeks back, the much-touted Mega Summit Group crashed. The North wanted it again, through the Mega Summit Group this time, to field a consensus candidate. But, as in previous attempts, every one of them wanted to be the consensus candidate. Naturally, it didn't work. The North parades highly qualified people to run for the Presidency, so I don't mean that these people shouldn't aspire to it. Neither am I involved in the process of drafting President Jonathan into the race on any considerations for zoning.

I am encouraging him to go for the office, on the whole, because he is anointed for it. He has always been called of God. He has never struggled for office from when he was a director in OMPADEC to when he became deputy governor of Bayelsa State, to when he became governor, to when he was called from merely expecting to perhaps run for elections to remain governor in 2007 to running with late President Umaru Yar'Adua for the presidency, to when he became acting president and then substantive president. Fate has always lifted him to positions of authority and I am yet to see him fail in any. He parades intimidating credentials. He is one of the most educated presidents in the world, but has remained one of the most humble and credible.

Muhammadu Buhari, IBB and Jonathan
Buhari is a very popular man, but he commands his popularity essentially in the North. Nobody can take it from him that he is the most popular man in the North. Many people contesting for positions of governor around the North, especially the far north, need his picture to sell their candidacy. But that popularity isn't big enough for the rest of the country. Secondly, we've had enough of ex-military officials. Also, Nigerians are wondering why anyone who has been president before should want the Presidency again. Anyhow, he has tried to return to power in two consecutive times and failed. He failed in 2003 and then 2007. He should leave it for younger people. He is a popular man who earns my respect, but I advise him to forget about 2011.

IBB is another very popular Nigerian. So popular among many that I feel he may not be the one financing his campaign. By my estimation, IBB probably has more friends in the South than in the North, but he who spent close to nine years in Aso Rock shouldn't want to go back there.  He should remain a good statesman and a rallying point of advice in times of difficulty. I don't think it is wise for him to come and start struggling with the younger elements.

Why I am routing for Jonathan
I am as qualified to run for the office of the President, but I am not going to run. As a national chairman of a political party, I have better chances of picking the ticket of my party than Jonathan has of picking the ticket of the PDP. And I am not a poor man by Nigerian standards. I am not campaigning for Jonathan for money. I am doing it because I believe in it. The way leadership was in the olden days where I come from, people go to those who show leadership traits and draft them to leadership.

In America, peasants and widows contributed money to support Barrack Obama's campaign. People will move the same way for Goodluck Jonathan. We are moving this campaign train, which we call The Big Deal. It is a coalition of political parties, of civil society groups, and of religious groups, churches and mosques, and everyone who feels as we do that Goodluck Jonathan represents the future. We are not seeking funding from any government or agency. It is a personal thing.

Jonathan is an extraordinary man in ordinary circumstances. He has never sought to push himself forward for any high office. God who wields the ultimate clout and has always raised him to power will do His work once more. The process will and already includes people like us coming up to do what should be done for his sake. I am not a member of his Peoples Democratic Party. I am the national chairman of another party, the National Unity Party (NUP). But we have commenced discussion with 20 other political parties.

If he eventually agrees to run, no less than these 20 political parties will adopt him. That is political clout. More than 500 registered NGOs and more than 100 religious groups will want to adopt him. That is political clout. God does not choose the qualified; He qualifies the chosen.

We believe in Goodluck Jonathan and want to draft him into the race. If you are a good man, it shouldn't be wrong for your constituents to contribute in their respective ways to encourage you to represent them. It doesn't have to be that you have personal or selfish agenda. People spend their resources on voluntary projects.