President Goodluck Jonathan
By Chuks Okocha in Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan and governors seeking second term on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may get automatic tickets to run in the 2015 general election, THISDAY gathered yesterday.
Already, some stakeholders and senior presidency officials are pushing the idea to give Jonathan and the governors the right of first refusal that will be followed by the affirmation of their candidacy at the party’s convention.
The right of first refusal is to allow a serving president and governors the opportunity to become the candidates of their party during elections without a primary election, as it is the situation in the United States of America, from where Nigeria copied the presidential system of government it is practising.
If the proponents of the idea are able to push it through, Jonathan and the governors of Kwara, Gombe, Kogi and Bayelsa States would not face any party primary because all they would need to do is to indicate their interest to seek a second term in office.
PDP and presidency sources told THISDAY that the idea is to solidify the cohesion in the party and reduce what they described as ‘unnecessary distraction’ from politicians.
A presidency source said: “Mark my words, there would be no presidential primary election in 2015 to choose the presidential candidate for the PDP. What we will have is just an affirmation congress.
“This is, however, subject to President Jonathan accepting to contest for the office of the president in the 2015 presidential election. The same would be applicable to governors elected on the platform of the party seeking a second term in office.
“We are working on the modalities for this, because there is the absolute need to allow the president and the governors concerned to remain focused to deliver the necessary dividends of democracy.
“There is no need to waste time and funds in organising presidential or governorship primaries for a serving president and governors. PDP must show the way in deepening our democracy by reducing rancour within the party and allow the president and all concerned to concentrate on their official duties without any distraction.”
THISDAY gathered that the option of first refusal would have great implications for governors of the party nursing presidential or vice-presidential ambition in 2015.
According to the source in the party, “we are aware of the said presidential ambition of some of the governors like Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and the vice-presidential ambitions of Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom.
“The PDP is not worried about all these permutations. What is important is how to achieve unity and deliver unity within PDP to enable it to tackle the opposition political parties.”
THISDAY gathered that should the PDP go ahead with this option of first refusal, the governors said to be nursing presidential and vice-presidential ambitions for the 2015 presidential election may opt out of the party in order to realise their ambitions.
“Even when they opt out and join the opposition political parties, would the presidential tickets be given to them automatically? The opposition will see them as part and parcel of the PDP and therefore will not give their presidential tickets to them automatically,” the source said.
Meanwhile, a former Deputy National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Secretary General of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Mr. Willy Ezeugwu, has described Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, as the major problem of APGA.
Ezeugwu, at a news conference yesterday in Abuja, accused Obi of being behind the crisis in the party.