Outrage over Jonathan’s failure to halt own election rallies despite Ebola warning

Prof Chidi Odinkalu

Civil rights and political activists have expressed outrage over President Goodluck Jonathan’s failure to halt ongoing political rallies organised by Transformation Association of Nigeria [TAN] for his re-election despite the President personally warning against such large gatherings as part of measures to check the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.

TAN has held two rallies in Awka, Anambra State in the South East and Ibadan, Oyo State in the South West zones the last one week, urging Mr. Jonathan to join the presidential race. It plans to hold more in other geo-political zones in the weeks ahead.

The rallies, which have had top government officials and presidential aides in attendance, were held despite Mr. Jonathan’s directive earlier in the month asking religious and political groups as well as other bodies to discourage gatherings and activities that could provide platforms for close contacts with those likely infected by the dreaded disease.

The Lagos State Government, through its Health Commissioner, Jide Idris, also gave similar advice.

Critics are now accusing the president of double standard for doing nothing to stop the campaigns for his re-election, even when the health emergency in the country as well as the electoral law prohibit such political gatherings at this time.

Lagos lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, expressed anger that the presidential directive banning political rallies, religious gatherings and other large assemblies on account of the highly contagious Ebola virus had been undermined by Mr. Jonathan’s own political exigencies.

“The official rallies are required to assist President Jonathan to make up his mind to contest the 2015 general election. The rallies are illegal as they are in violation of the electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which stipulates that campaign for the presidential election will commence in October this year,” he said.

The activists, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES in separate interviews on Monday, lampooned Mr. Jonathan for allowing TAN to proceed with its rallies despite his advice discouraging mass gatherings to avoid the spread of the Ebola virus.

Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, warned that unless the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was prepared to enforce the provisions of the law, the official impunity would continue.

“It is hoped that the organisers of the rallies will stop them on legal and moral grounds,” he added.

The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, noted that consistency was essential for the credibility of governance.

“We can’t have one rule for well-connected political and religious gatherings or the NBA and another for schools and poor people,” he stated.

“That has the potential to bring the so far reassuring efforts government has deployed against Ebola into disrepute.”

The Chairman, Partner for Electoral Reform, Ezenwa Nwagwu who also lamented the development said the rallies were being held without obstruction because “there are two sets of laws in Nigeria, one for those in authority and another for those that are not in authority”.

According to Mr. Nwagwu, a member of the just-concluded National Conference, in spite of the directive, it was those in government and prominent individuals that have ignored the directives to check the spread of the Ebola virus.

“They have the tendency to violate the directives. They go about shaking hands despite these directives. We see them on national television doing that,” he stressed.

Also speaking, an opposition politician, Osita Okechukwu, said he was not surprised the government was turning a blind eye to its own directive.

He noted that apart from violating the directives on Ebola disease, TAN was also violating Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act 2006, which states that “the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day”.

Mr. Okechukwu, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress [APC] added, “A party that has sworn to rule for 60 years whether it performed or not is likely to behave like Sani Abacha. Is there any difference between what Abacha did and what they are doing? Is it not the same people who sponsored the Abacha rallies that are sponsoring these ones?”

The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, said it was irresponsible for government to allow the TAN rallies in spite of the health consequences and the security challenges, occasioned by the breakout of Ebola and the Boko Haram insurgency.

He expressed concern about the inconsistencies displayed by government towards their own guidelines in favour of its officials, insisting that it was not in the spirit of democracy and human rights.

“There is no compliance with the rule of law in this country,” Mr. Rafsanjani said. “If it was another group they would have been arrested. This rally is about the president. It is really bad, the selective treatment is really bad.”

A university lecturer, Tunde Akanni, said government’s defiance of its own directive is not surprising because it had always demonstrated the inclination to act on impulse and therefore insincerity most of the times.

“With this TAN’s public posturing, all religious, social, trade and possibly professional organizations will henceforth continue to organise large gatherings as if Ebola has receded into the background,” Mr. Akanni, who teaches journalism at the Lagos State University, said.

“In fact the same way this government has had to shamefully withdraw from its earlier decision to rename UNILAG as Moshood Abiola University, Lagos-MAULAG-, it won’t do anything to immortalize Dr. Adadevoh who did everything to save the nation from the calamitous situation we may have been plunged into.

“It’s worth noting that this government now has the reputation of being the one with highest number of committees without any result.”


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  • solomon

    Every moron is now activist in Nigeria.

    Too bad one day they will also call ebola (RIBADU) of our time activist

    • Maria

      The biggest moron in the present Nigeria is ebola Jonathan.

      • redeem

        Few weeks after castigating the Federal Government for allegedly hiring a foreign Public RELATIONS firm, the All progressive Congress, APC, has hired Burson-Marsteller, a London based Public Relations and Public Affairs for an annual fee of $1.2 Million, approximately N200 Million.

        Perception and narratives that ITS members are Boko Haram sympathizers, trail the APC, an appendage that may likely affect the APC’s electoral fortunes in 2015. One of the main focuses of the P.R firm would be to change the narrative using the media among others.

        DETAILS of the contract papers from United State Department of Justice shows that Burson-Marsteller will partner with Prime Policy Group based in the United States and will support the APC to develop messaging documents, pursue meetings with the media in London and Washington DC.

        They will also pursue meetings with Political leaders and civil servants in London and Washington DC and develop briefing materials ahead of meetings.

        APC had recently hired AKPD, President Barack Obama’s political strategy group to help position the party ahead of the 2015 general elections.

        The APC has come under serious criticism for either not condemning the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents when they STARTED or having members linked to the sect within its rank and FILE.————–This is part of the APC PR work——what a shame–using Ebola to smear the president is evil———

    • Wähala

      No wonder you spelled ‘solomon’ with low keys… no wisdom of King Solomon associated in you. The biggest moron on earth today is Jona Dumbo, the Ebola President of Nigeria. He’s so senseless he listens to the last adviser without personal input. Common sense would tell even my blind grandmother that due to a virulent virus large gatherings are to be avoided… but, your moron makes the rules only to break them with impunity. Sometimes I wonder if he stuffs his food thru his ahnus, his crassness is simply amazing. The worst Nigeria has seen is this clueless creek crook… tufia!

      • redeem

        My fried bazz off with your dirty smelly Ibo civil war sentiments-u must be sick in the head———-like yr friends in APC—was the rally organized by President Jonathan——————————if a friend decides to arrange a birthday day bash for u——ebola or no ebola———–do u cut the throat of yr pal———————we have ebola here in Nigeria what are u scared of–more human meat for u to chew–I do not understand why some animals in APC will always want to score cheap political points with these types of rubbish———–APC should go look for better things to do with self–how to settle their 600b debt for example–reduce the number of decampees in her party–

        • Factual

          So that means it’s none of Dumbo Jona’s business if people are infected with Ebola in the rally.

  • Wähala

    Ebola Jona doesn’t care a hoot if Nigeria burns to the ground, all that matters is his reelection. Dishonesty and deceit are his trade marks. He has destroyed virtually every institution with his romance with corruption yet, the hungry sycophants still troop out for a piece of crumbs falling at his campaign rallies. Where’s Jega in all this… why hasn’t he condemned the rallies or is he blind? The Aboki aschloch is in concert with what is happening, his day of reckoning will be when he announces Dumbo as winner of a rigged elections. Boko Haram and Ebola are ravaging the country and all they think about is elections… animals!

    • redeem

      U have become so empty——-in yr regional thoughts that————-u do not know what to say again–Zik was far away in London while Biafrans were being killed–sleeping with whores—that was how he fathered those mixed kids——one of whome died recently in Kenya—————–Shettima the borno state governor was in London dancing to the tune of danmariya goje–hours after he alleged that the Chibok girls have been kidnapped—————

      • checkmate

        ……and where was the Dumbo Jonaharam less than 24 hours after the Nyanya bombing? What was he doing there?

        • concerned9ja

          Jona was in Kano dancing skelewu

  • Gbo_lee

    The truth is we don’t have a President. Jonathan is a man that cares only for his reelection. We must oust him before the country breaks down under his selfish watch

    • redeem

      Go and install tinubu as president since we longer have one-monkey-why dont u ask Muslims to stop going on pilgrimage in Mecca-because of the ebola virus-

      • Nigerian

        You are an ignorant cyber rat. Are you not aware that Saudi Arabia has stopped pilgrims from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone?

        • concerned9ja

          He won’t know nothing. He is from that area. He has the brain of a fish

  • djay

    That guy, anyone that thinks Gej is in charge is only deceiving himself. He is a proxy in govt that’s why Nigerians need to come together to kick that clown out of power he doesn’t control.

    • redeem

      go and put yr fathers———————for a change—————-wahala

      • djay

        oops, sufferhead so you decided to reply me. Yea by 2015 we shall kick your Failed father out n u will seize to exist from commenting 2015.Dick head.

  • Adeyi

    Nigerians are tired of this ‘good guy’ attitude of Mr. President. He has failed in building the Nation and its people. He has no clue also about taking Nigeria to where she should be. His is a government of patronage. The overall national objective for him is to remain on that seat after 2015.

    Above all, he cannot take HARD DECISIONS! And so, he should step aside NOW with his VP and let the SP finish off the tenure.

    • redeem

      The Department for State SECURITY Services (DSS) said the rejection of N14
      Million from governor Rauf Aregbeshola and the All Progressives Congress
      (APC) by its operatives in Osun state is responsible for the recent MEDIA
      ATTACK on the on the DSS.

      Spokesperson of the DSS Marilyn Ogar MADE the revelation today while
      briefing newsmen in Abuja TODAY.

      “The APC is making unfounded allegations on the DSS because our OPERATIVE
      rejected at total of N14 million extended to its officials.

      “They had requested the DSS to come and COLLECT N4 million for himself
      while N10 Million should be given to the boys , but our OPERATIVES
      rejected the offer.”

      ” Politicians can not entice our operatives with MONEY , we are well paid
      by the federal government so no body can entice us with MONEY no matter
      the amount. We are paid upfront before embaking on such operations; we
      spent N200 million preparing for the election so let no politician think
      they can entice us with MONEY.–Dem wan hide am abi like ebola———–Nigerians needs answers to this scandal———-let the governor speak up–stop him from hiding—we want the truth————-animals

      • concerned9ja

        Derailed and deranged mind.

  • Clement

    We are have different meaning of Campaign and Rally, am sue poverty that is ravaging APC had really contributed in this unending war against our President but I just want to inform all ofyou that this unending war will last till 2019 if and only Nigeria will still remain one

    • concerned9ja

      Wishful thinking!