PDP INTENSIFIES LOBBY IN N'WEST, S'WEST FOR JONATHAN
N'Assembly may shift resumption date
ALTHOUGH President Goodluck Jonathan may have officially ended his campaign tour of the country in his quest to return to Aso Rock on April 16, 2011, the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still intensifying secret campaigns in some parts of the country which they believe that the opposition appear to hold sway even as indications have emerged that the National Assembly may tinker with its April 19 resumption date.
The Guardian gathered that immediately after the grand finale of the PDP presidential campaign held in Abuja on March 26, 2011, the chieftains of the party under the leadership of Jonathan held a meeting and agreed that there was a need for the party to carry out what a source described as ''informal meetings with some areas that the party still has some challenges in terms of extracting 'concrete commitments from the political gladiators that the presidential candidate of PDP would be delivered at the polls which will now take place on April 16.
The strategy, according to party sources, became necessary because of the ''misinterpretation which some sections gave to certain comments made by PDP during the campaigns and the ferocious inroad of the opposition in vital areas like the North West''. The North West has large number of votes that can likely determine the winner of the presidential election. The zone has seven states namely Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa and Kebbi.
The leadership of PDP is of the position that the North West political leaders from the party still has more work to do on the electorate because of the incident in Kaduna on February 11, when some people who had come to listen to President Jonathan at the zonal rally in Kaduna left the venue before the president spoke. Some political pundits have explained that to mean that PDP is not acceptable to many people in the North West. According to a source, 'this negative impression needs to be cleared before we go into the election''.
For this reason, the party has given a charge to the Director General of Jonathan/Sambo campaign organisation to reverse the trend before the presidential election. ''This was one of key issues that the party is handling and we are positive that the desired results will be achieved because apart from these people who are visible in the campaigns, the party is equally reaching out to leaders of thought, including clerics from the zone'', the source said.
In the case of the South West, The Guardian gathered that the president and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party led by the acting national chairman, Dr. Haliru Mohammed Bello, had a private meeting with the delegates in Abuja, where a reference was made to the statement he made at the Ibadan zonal rally that the zone should not be left in the hands of jokers because it is sophisticated. Members of the party from the zone were advised to take the opportunity of the Neigbour-to-Neighbour method of the campaign organisation 'to erase the wrong interpretation given to the president's message by the opposition'',
'With the presidential election shifted to next Saturday, it is our hope that the party's message of good hope and fresh air in Nigeria will further sink and that will mean that the opposition are living in illusion to say that there will be a second ballot. No party has campaigned the way PDP has done and no candidates has toiled for votes like our candidate. We have toured the entire country and we have reached every Nigerian with our Neighbour-to-Neighbour campaign and when a man has worked hard like that, his reward is success and that is what we expect. Like we said, we were ready for the presidential election and we are still ready and we expect Nigerians to vote massively for the party at all levels'', the national publicity secretary of the party. Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali said.
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that the two chambers of the National Assembly – Senate and the House of Representatives will shift their date of resumption from April 19, 2011 earlier fixed by them. Speaking with The Guardian on the telephone from his Enugu North Senatorial District in Enugu State yesterday, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Communications, Senator Ayogu Eze, said that with the recent development where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shifted the elections, the National Assembly would not be able to reconvene on April 19, 2011. He described the postponement of the National Assembly elections as unfortunate.
'It is unfortunate that the we have this situation on our hands but I appeal to Nigerians to remain calm. Let them be patient with INEC and still contribute their quota to the success of the exercise. With this development, the National Assembly can not reconvene on April 19 because we have elections up till March 26, but the leadership of the National Assembly will let Nigerians know'', he said.
Also, the PDP has said it was targeting at least 80 per cent victory in the various elections in the South-East, even as it urged her supporters in the zone not to be discouraged by the sudden shift in the elections.
National Vice Chairman of the party in the South-East, Chief Olisa Metuh, who stated this while addressing reporters in Enugu yesterday, said the party does not need to resort to violence to achieve the feat, stressing that PDP has become dominant party for the politics of the zone.
He said he was certain that the party would win the elections in Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia states and an overwhelming majority in Imo State, refraining however to comment on the fate of the party in his home state, Anambra.