PDP PRIMARIES: JONATHAN WORKED HARD FOR VICTORY - OKOROAFOR
With the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the April elections, the National Coordinator of Goodluck/Sambo Vanguard, Mr Mba Okoroafor, has attributed the victory to hard work by Jonathan and his supporters.
In this interview, he speaks on a wide range of issues. Excerpts…
The PDP just concluded its presidential primaries where President Goodluck Jonathan emerged the party's flag bearer. How do you feel and what is your assessment of the whole exercise?
I feel great and excited. As a group, the Goodluck/Sambo Vanguard, we feel highly elated. We are grateful to God. We saw it coming and we knew it would happen that way. The organization of the primary and the voting pattern were very perfect. It's hard work that brings good game; we saw it coming by the work of everybody like the Director General of Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organization, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, Sen Jonathan Zwingina, Barr Gulak and other members of the team. It was a job well done. So we are happy.
We saw Jonathan winning Atiku in his home state of Adamawa and even in Yobe, the home state of Adamu Ciroma, the arrow head of Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF), which adopted Atiku as the consensus candidate for the north, what is your comment about that surprise performance?
People go out fighting without taking care of their home fronts. This is hard work for Jonathan and everybody working with him. We knew Atiku would not make it in his home state of Adamawa because a solid job had been done there. Even in Yobe, we knew he would not win because of the groundwork already done by Jonathan and his group. You see, when you see that somebody is coming somewhere and he wants to play tricks, you give him a hard fight. What we did in Adamawa and Yobe was to fight harder than usual to ensure we got those places and we eventually did.
What should we expect in the April general election?
You should expect a landslide victory for Jonathan/Sambo. I make bold to say that we shall win everywhere; we shall win all the states in the North. Any place we didn't get good result in the just concluded primary, we would put in 50 per cent more efforts to get them; states like Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano and Niger. We would redouble our efforts to clear all states that Atiku won in this primary during the general elections in April.
What is your reaction to the allegation that Jonathan bribed some delegates?
There is nothing like bribing delegates; what is done in politics is called lobbying. To the best of our knowledge, delegates were only lobbied and lobbying is just to convince them about one's programmes. Basically, lobbying simply means convincing somebody with your programmes and not with money. Jonathan didn't bribe anybody with money.
If people bribed, we know those that did that because some people were saying that somebody was going about spending so much money. To the best of my knowledge, Jonathan doesn't like spending money; he has never given us any kobo. We have been doing this job from when he was vice president and he has never given us any money. He kept telling us that he doesn't want to do anything that the opposition will use against him; he has always told us to go and work and serve our fatherland.
What is your assessment of the preparations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of for general election?
I think INEC is doing well; it is preparing well and this is where we have a point to make. INEC cannot do everything, it will do its job and the people will also do their own job. And we are asking the whole nation now as a group to go and register in order to vote in April elections. INEC has put every machinery on ground to ensure that people register in order to vote. Everybody that is up to 18 years and above should go and register. It is not enough to say 'I love Jonathan' without registering to vote. If you love Jonathan and you are not registered to vote, you are not helping him. We want everybody to go out there, support INEC and register. Everybody should register to vote because INEC is doing a good job.
The Adamu Ciroma-led NPLF is said to have a Plan B, which is to support Gen Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Don't you think the group may cash in on the poor security situation in the country to thwart Jonathan's chances in the election?
I wouldn't want to talk about any particular person especially the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar. He shouldn't attack the president on security because the president is really doing so much work and besides, security was not better when he was the vice president.
However, the president and the security agencies are working very hard to curb and stop all the menace of Boko Haram and their likes. Members of Boko Haram are human beings and we believe there are people that are sponsoring them. I know that government will get to the roots of all that and I pray that when they do, it will not be that they are unknown people that are doing all that.
If Adamu Ciroma group has plan B, we in Jonathan group equally have a plan that covers any other plan you can come up with. For whatever plan, be it supporting Buhari, we are not perturbed, after all, Buhari has contested so many times and lost and we are still ready to beat him again. When Obasanjo was there, he lost twice and he will still lose again. He lost with Yar'Adua and with Jonathan; we will ensure he loses again.
In a nutshell, what is the Goodluck/Sambo Vanguard telling Nigerians?
What we are telling the whole nation like I earlier said is to go out and register to be able to vote in April. Secondly, they should bear in mind that for presidential election, they are voting for Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his vice, Arch Mohammed Namadi Sambo because the two of them are well prepared and eminently qualified to carry Nigeria to the next level.