PDP PRIMARIES: PRESIDENT JONATHAN ACCUSES ATIKU OF BLACKMAIL
Both President Goodluck Jonathan and Atiku Abubakar, Presidential aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) resumed their hostilities after the Christmas and Boxing Day celebrations.
The Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation has alleged a grand design by Atiku to smear the image of President Jonathan through circulation of a fake document.
It said the Atiku organisation had circulated a 141-page document to some media houses purporting it to be the campaign strategy of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation to manipulate the PDP presidential primaries scheduled for January 13 next year.
In the alleged strategy, the Director, Planning, Research and Strategy, Jonathan Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mike Omeri, said in Abuja that the document contained sundry plans meant to compromise the delegates, the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission. He said in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday that despite the alert to media houses on the impending attempt to blackmail President Jonathan with this spurious strategy document, 'we are surprised that some national dailies actually ran a story last Saturday in which the spokesman of the Atiku campaign, Malam Shehu Garba, confirmed its possession and circulation of the document.'
The director described this as the height of desperation by the former vice president to fly the presidential flag of the PDP in the general elections next year. President Jonathan's camp denied authorship and ownership of the document and challenged those circulating it to prove its veracity to Nigerians, saying while it was not in the habit of threatening the media with legal actions in a veiled attempt to gag them, 'we would appeal to our friends in the media to be more circumspect with information made available to them by politicians.'
The statement said: 'The nation is witnessing interesting political times and as we have seen, some politicians have become too desperate that they are prepared to do anything, including shedding the blood of Nigerians to achieve their political desires.'
It, therefore, called for vigilance and moderation on the part of the media, believing that they would continue to strive to attain the fairness and balance that their professional ethics enjoined them to pursue always.
According to the statement: 'For the avoidance of doubt, we do not need to plan to manipulate a process that already clearly points to our success.
As a campaign team, we are doing everything lawfully possible to win the January 13, 2011 presidential primaries of the party. We have identified and are engaging with the delegates to the primaries. We have visited 32 of the 36 state branches of our party to engage with the delegates and President Jonathan has personally gone to four of the six geopolitical zones to meet with the delegates. The remaining states and zones of the party are scheduled to be engaged with this week after the Christmas festivities.'
'We are glad that our efforts are already paying off. We have the endorsements of 21 of the 26 PDP governors and all the six geo-political zones of our party. Non-PDP members as well as non-partisan members of the public have also not hidden their preference for President Jonathan. In an unusual show of solidarity, the entire traditional rulers of the South-east as well as prominent and paramount traditional rulers in the North, South-west and South-south have declared their support for our President.
'We, as a disciplined campaign team, could not engage in actions that could undermine the electoral policy of our principal. Nigerians are very conversant with those who have track records of corruption and capacity to compromise the system.
'Finally, we express our regret about the Atiku campaign's insinuation that the esteemed delegates and members of our party are incapable of making a decision on a matter of such national importance as the selection of our presidential flag bearer without financial inducement. 'This insinuation is an unfortunate manifestation of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar's habitual contempt for our party and its members.'