Nigeria2015: South-South leaders ask Jonathan to declare interest in presidential poll

President Goodluck Jonathan

A separate  group wants every ethnic group to be allowed to aspire to the nation’s highest political office

A group of South-South leaders under the aegis of the South-South Peoples Assembly, SSPA, on Thursday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to declare his interest in the 2015 presidential election.

Meanwhile, another group, Pan Niger Delta Conference, PNDC, said having a president of Nigeria from the Niger Delta was neither a core demand of the Niger Delta nor was it a solution to the problems of the region. It said  it recognised that every individual in the country, including members of minority nationalities, could aspire to and hold the highest political office.

Rising from a meeting at the Abuja home of a former Information Minister, Edwin Clark, SSPA reaffirmed its resolve and commitment to the content, letters and spirit of the “Calabar Declaration” asking Mr. Jonathan to enter the presidential race.

They said Mr. Jonathan had the right under the constitution to seek a second term and appealed to all Nigerians to support the president in the spirit of national cohesion.

“We reaffirm our resolve and commitment to the content, letters and spirit of the ‘Calabar Declaration’, and in that context, we call on President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2015 presidential elections in consonance with section 131 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the SSPA leaders said in a communiqué read by Idongesit Nkanga, a former military governor of Akwa Ibom State. “While we appeal to all Nigerians to, in the spirit of national cohesion and solidarity, give their support to President Goodluck Jonathan, we wish to reassure Mr. President of the solid and unflinching support of the people of the South-South gee-political zone.”

The group said it was in support of the 2015 general elections timetable released recently by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

It commended the All Progressives Congress, APC, federal lawmakers for participating in the discussion of the general principles of the 2014 Appropriation Bill, despite a directive by the national leadership of the party asking them not to do so.

Meanwhile, PNDC, which held its conference on Tuesday in Abuja, demanded for the restructuring of Nigeria into a truly federal state where the components would have political autonomy at the proposed national conference.

The conference was attended by the representatives of Ogbakor Ikwerre, Ijaw National Congress, Mboho Mkparawe Ibibio. Benin National Congress, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, Movement for the Defence of Isoko Rights and Oporoza House.

According to a communiqué jointly signed by conference chairman, Ebiegberi Alagoa, co-chairman, Ben Naanen and Chair, PNDC Coordination Committee, Isaac Osuoka and released to the media on Thursday, PNDC called for the representation at the proposed conference to be based primarily on ethnic nationalities which might include equitable participation from national interest groups.

The PNDC conference was attended by the representatives of nationalities, community groups and social movements. Its theme was Niger Delta and the National Conference.

The group noted that Nigeria had attained a century of existence and had two distinct phases of struggle over the years in the expectation for a viable nation-state.

The first phase, it said, was the struggle against colonial rule while the second was the unsuccessful struggles against the vestiges of colonialism and other self-inflicted contradictions in the post-independence phase.

It stated that as the country began the second century, it would face the challenge of organising a new generation of citizens that would live under conditions of dismantled structural contradictions without the constraints on peoples’ capacity to fulfill their potentials.

The group observed that the Niger Delta had been at the forefront of the struggle for the restructuring of the Nigerian state, saying it was based on the people’s conviction that a multi-ethnic nation state like Nigeria could only exist peacefully on the basis of a truly federal structure that would give importance, equity and justice to all the components.

It stated that the resolutions of the conference should be ratified by a referendum organised in line with the principle of “peoples’ suffrage” as opposed to universal suffrage. By “peoples suffrage” the conference said it meant the votes of the various nationalities that make up the country.

It also said the confab should culminate in a new Constitution for Nigeria, which should be the basis for the conduct of the next general elections.

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