President Goodluck Jonathan
By Chuks Okocha
In a move that may invigorate fresh permutations towards the 2015 election, it emerged at the weekend that plans are underway within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to press for an amendment of the party’s constitution in a bid to give President Goodluck Jonathan and governors elected on the party's platform the chance of first refusal in respect of nomination for re-election.
The idea being powered by some elders of the party, THISDAY learnt, is aimed at fashioning the PDP constitution after the convention in the United States where a President seeking re-election is given the option of refusal of nomination by his party, be it Republican or Democratic Party.
Already, a committee of those pushing the plan has been set up to fine tune the proposal and forward same to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party for consideration before arrangements could be made for constitutional amendment.
Members of the committee, THISDAY learnt, comprise some state chairmen of PDP who are voting members of the NEC, some elders of the party from the six geo-political zones, some members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Caucus of the party.
It was gathered that some members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) are also part of the move aimed at giving the president and governors automatic tickets to prosecute their second term.
A source within the NWC told THISDAY, "I will not tell you that some of us are not aware of this plan, but it has to be subjected to approval by the NEC and other relevant organs of the party first before it can be implemented".
A party leader who spoke with THISDAY said, “Some of us just came back from the Democratic National Congress and we saw how President Barak Obama was nominated without any contest or any challenge from any other persons from his party. This is good for our system because it will remove the President from the distraction of having to be fighting for ticket for re-election.
“This is also good for our system because it would make all the governors running out their first terms to get automatic tickets for re-election and concentrate on their programmes without having to engage in prosecuting often bitter primaries. This would avoid the distraction of the primaries.
“Some of us are coming up with this idea to amend the PDP constitution to be in line with the Democratic Party of the United States, since we are also adopting the United States Presidential System. You saw the long train of campaign of the Republican Party before they nominated their presidential candidate. Our aim is ensure that any president from a ruling party like in the PDP is given time to concentrate on his campaign promises and avoid contesting primaries if he intends to seek a second term in office."
He added, “However, it is left to either the president or any of the governors in their first terms in office to say I don’t want to re-contest and this is what we mean as the choice of first refusal.”
According to the source, “What we are trying to do is to reduce the tension occasioned by the politics of seeking a second term by incumbent president or governor. This issue of second term is overheating the polity.”
The source, however, denied that President Jonathan was behind the plan, asking, “Is President Jonathan going to be the only president that will emerge on PDP platform. All we are doing is to reduce tension in the system. The contest for 2015 is already generating tension though the election is three years away”.
Meanwhile, details of what transpired at the private meeting President Jonathan held with political stakeholders from the South-east geopolitical zone in Awka, Anambra State, during his visit to the state, have also emerged.
The president visited the state last week during which he commissioned some projects executed by Governor Peter Obi.
At a private meeting, Obi and prominent businessman Arthur Eze and other stakeholders from the zone endorsed the President for a second term in office.
It was learnt that Eze was the first to commence the discussion on 2015, calling on the leaders to endorse President Jonathan for a second term in office.
He said some of the programmes and projects of the President would need more time to germinate and could not be concluded within the first four years of his administration.
A source who attended the meeting quoted the business magnate as saying, “Mr. President, we know the projects in your hands.
They cannot be concluded within the period of the first four years of your administration.
“We have noted the progress your administration is making in the power sector and in infrastructural development. We know that there would be no meaningful progress in these projects within your first term, which ends in 2015. It is equally worthy of note that these projects need to be given full attention to ensure their successful completion. We are therefore proposing and hereby endorsing you for a second term in office to enable you complete the projects that you have started,” Prince Eze said.
Eze was supported by Obi, who allegedly reminded the President of the zone’s support during his presidential campaign.
“Governor Obi told the President that he should not hesitate to declare for his second term in office”.
The source, however, said when it was time for the President to respond, he tactfully refrained from acknowledging the call by the zone for him to declare for second time.
President Jonathan was said to have dwelt on the progress recorded by his administration in the various sectors of the economy to ensure that the promises he made to the people in 2011 before he was elected are fulfilled. He did not respond to the call made on him to immediately declare for re-election.