Twenty state governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday endorsed the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan for one term of four years.
Addressing journalists last night after the NEC meeting of the PDP, the governors said they took the decision after an emergency meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
The Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema, who was accompanied by other governors, read the communiqué at the national secretariat of the PDP.
“At the emergency meeting of PDP Governors held Thursday 16th day of December, 2010, and having deliberated extensively on democratic practices the world over, we observed as follows:
1. Democratic systems all over the world recognise the principle of incumbency and continuity.
2. Entrenched democratic culture persistent in presidential system and our constitution entitles our President to run for a second term which the PDP Governors support.
3. The Governors also recognise the Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket and therefore support and endorse President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR) to contest the 2011 election as the PDP presidential candidate for a period of four years only.”
Taofeek Arapaja, deputy governor of Oyo State, stood in for his boss while the deputy governors of Ogun and Imo states signed for their principals.
Mr Shema said despite adopting Mr Jonathan, the presidential primaries will still hold to allow other aspirants to contest.
He also said that the governors were entitled to chose somebody to support, adding that during their meeting, some of the governors canvassed for one term of four years for Mr Jonathan which was eventually adopted.
Watch your language
Mr Jonathan had earlier warned that his administration will no longer tolerate those who threaten the nation’s unity by their utterances.
He spoke in apparent reference to the statement credited to the former vice president and PDP presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar. Mr Abubakar said last Wednesday at a meeting of his supporters that political leaders risks making violent change inevitable if they make peaceful change impossible.
“The utterances of some of us are not very palatable to the ear and government will no longer tolerate a situation where an individual or groups of individuals threaten the sovereignty and stability of this country. If people make statements that are treasonable they will face the law.,” he said.
“If people want to govern a state at the end of the day, only one person will be the candidate and we expect the rest to work with person. The same thing with the presidential level, ten people may be interested but one person will emerge, others should come and work and make that person win If you belong to the PDP, you will not destroy PDP. In as much as you want that position, you won’t destroy the platform that will float you because the platform is where will you climb again. We cannot play politics as if we are fighting a civil war.”
The president also paid tribute to the governors for helping to resolve the crisis that befell the party. He described them as “commanders”, saying while he is in Abuja, they are in the states taking charge.
The national chairman of the party, Okwesilieze Nwodo recalled that two days ago, the NEC adjourned for 48 hours to enable it resolve some problems, adding that those problems had finally been resolved. He said the party is coming out of the problems stronger, more united and more purposeful, adding that it is a victory for the governors, members of the legislature and the party in general.
Mr Nwodo added that opponents of the PDP are already strategising, adding, “we like it and because of our numbers and strength, we are not afraid, we will conquer.”
The NEC meeting, which was scheduled to commence at 11am, did not begin until 6.14 pm. Before the meeting commenced, Mr Jonathan and his deputy, Namandi Sambo had met with the members of the national working committee of the party and the governors in Mr Nwodo’s office.
Mr Abubakar, in a statement last night, however said he was ready to be arrested over his statement, saying tolerance for dissenting views and opponents remains an integral component of democracy.
In a statement by his Campaign Organisation in Abuja last night, the former Vice President said neither himself nor his supporters will be intimidated or deterred in the commitment to ensure that the PDP abides by its zoning arrangement in line with the party’s amended constitution.