2011 PRESIDENTIAL RACE
DESPITE the supposedly superficial support by the governors and some stakeholders of the South-South geo-political zone, for the presidential project of President Goodluck Jonathan, there is a simmering air of political uncertainty in the zone.
A cocktail of leaders, representatives of community-based and active social formations in the zone, rose from a meeting in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with a clear warning to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in respect of President Jonathan.
The meeting which took off the ground late on Monday night, was held within the Greater Port Harcourt City, the Rivers State capital. The meeting also attracted representatives of the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA), a political pressure group that was galvanized by Chief Raymond Dokpesi, for the Dr. Peter Odili 2007, presidential project.
It was hosted by the Niger Delta Patriotic Front (NDPF), a radical political group of activists and social formations in the oil and gas region.
The meeting warned the PDP against foisting President Jonathan, on the party in breach of the power sharing pact between the North and the South. According to them, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is desperately pushing for Jonathan to remain for selfish reasons.
Spokesperson for the NDPF, Mr. Ben Didi, told Akanimoreports that Obasanjo does not want the emergence of a strong Nigerian leader who would probe his administration's “dirty deals and war crimes in the Niger Delta. We will frustrate their plans”.
The Port Harcourt meeting, according to Didi, resolved to work for the former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, in a bid to safeguard the interest of the oil and gas region.
Checks by our correspondents tend to indicate that political foot soldiers of the former military ruler have invaded much of the oil-bearing communities in the Ijaw axis of the Niger Delta.
Besides some governors and PDP stalwarts who are alleged to be pulling the strings for Babangida backstage, the NDPF is said to be galvanizing a flurry of grassroots initiatives.
Speaking in a telephone interview later on Tuesday, Didi said: “As a country, we live in a decisive moment in our 50 years history. And, as far as the 2011 general election is concerned, NDPF is of the view that great decision have to be made as to whether Nigeria moves forward into a new era of cooperation and right human relations, or whether the plundering circles continue to maintain control”.
According to him, 'the NDPF is taking this message to the electorate because the decision has to be made by citizens, and not institutional and governmental powers'.
It was, however, gathered that grassroots initiatives are working to mobilize citizens' opinion on a wide range of issues. Their effort tends to find its source of power in the recognition of the value of any individual and oneness of the Nigeria people.
Resource control activist, Mr. Dan Anderson, who attended the Port Harcourt meeting says they are working for Babangida to return to active presence in Aso Rock to enable him prepare the people of the Niger Delta for the next step in their evolution.
“We have rigorously examined our (Niger Delta) desires and aspirations. As a politico-economic bloc that lays the golden egg for Nigeria, we still lack the basic necessities of life. Our land and water are still bering despoiled by the extractive industry”, he said.
Also speaking, Spokesperson for Egbema Movement for Justice (EMJ), a community group in Edo State, Mr. Robinson Uroupa, said the global financial crises which was precipitated two years ago continues to cause hardships to the Nigeria people.
“The suffering which this is causing as well as the unjust distribution of financial resources in Nigeria, is a source of deep concern to patriots”, the Egbema group spokesperson said.
As the battle for the PDP presidential ticket rages, NDPF is insisting that what the decision of the Niger Delta will be in regard to the struggle between right human relations and selfish materialism is not yet certain.
“This is not the time for blind and narrow sentiment. There is need for every thinking citizen of goodwill, to contribute to the outcome that will serve the common good, NDPF said.
Meanwhile, as political confusion in the oil region unfolds, the weeks ahead will tell whether the political parties are ready for the emergence of that which in fresh, better and progressively right.