SHOWDOWN FOR PDP TICKET
As intrigues ahead of the 2011 general election gather momentum, indications have emerged that state governors are spoiling for a showdown with President Goodluck Jonathan over his presidential ambition. The governors, especially those interested in a second term in office, are said to be oiling their political machine to ensure that they call the shots in the coming election.
A source close to one of the state chief executives told Sunday Sun on condition of anonymity that the governors are not comfortable with the candidature of the former Bayelsa governor and are poised to throw their weight behind one of their own (an incumbent governor) for the plum position.
The source disclosed that the governors are determined to re-enact their 2007 feat when they literally made late President Umaru Yar'Adua the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and subsequently the winner of the presidential election.
It was gathered that they are banking on exploiting the advantages inherent in the recently signed Electoral Act.
According to the source, they believe that the provision for staggered primaries by the political parties confer some advantages on them since they are usually in control of the structure of the ruling party in their respective states.
'In politics, you consider the advantages you have and what the governors feel is that the staggered election has in a way strengthened their powers and influence in their states. They believe that they determine what happens in their states and would use the votes of delegates as a bargaining chip. Part of the strategies they are going to adopt is to use their structures to break the bloc votes of President Jonathan.
'But these things are not cut and dry. You know in politics, anything is possible and unlike Mathematics, two plus two is not always four. What I'm saying is that at the end, it may be a game of rub-my-back-and-I-rub-yours,' the source said. Sunday Sun gathered that the state chief executives are nursing grudges against the former Bayelsa governor for toying with their influence on the polity and ignoring their input in some critical policy decisions.
According to our source, they are not happy with Jonathan's veiled role in the selection of the PDP chairman, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, as well as the way he picked former Kaduna governor, Namadi Sambo, as vice president after the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua in May this year. It was gathered that the governors, who are spoiling for their pound of flesh, are equally not pleased that the President constituted his cabinet without recourse to them as was the tradition since the days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Reacting to the speculation that the governors want to edge out Jonathan to support one of their own, former Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Obasanjo, Dr Doyin Okupe, said it is certainly too early to understand the body language of the governors. He said that what is happening in the country at the moment was part of the intrigues ahead of the 2011 general election, explaining that a lot of negotiation, consensus-building and horse-trading were going on.
The medical doctor-turned politician cautioned that people should not jump to conclusion yet as it was too early.
'At the moment, it is neither here nor there and you cannot categorically say that the governors are supporting President Jonathan or not. A lot of negotiation is going on and most of what seems to be the picture is far from the reality. What is happening is all politics.
'If Jonathan eventually declares that he will contest the next presidential election, you will be surprised that the game could change. What I want to say is that the game is on and those who are not in the game may not understand what the actual picture is,' he said. Last Tuesday, after a night-long meeting, governors of the PDP resolved to toe the line of the party's National Executive Council (NEC) that its presidential ticket was open to all aspirants.
They were reported to have made it categorical that any of the governors nursing presidential ambition should go on without any fear or hindrance. It will be recalled that the NEC, which zoned the presidency, also said Jonathan was free to run. Already, two governors from the North – Bukola Saraki (Kwara) and Danjuma Goje (Gombe) – have reportedly indicated interest in the plum position.
The duo are said to be resolute in the crusade among PDP governors to have the position zoned to the northern part of the country. Saraki is reported to be the popular choice of the 'New Order Movement' in the North that has been campaigning for a general shift and for the geo-political zone to put its best forward.