President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday pushed back allegation he was planning to seek a new term in 2015, dismissing the charge as “unnecessary” and “diversionary”, but refused to categorically put himself away from such ambition which is increasingly dominating national discourse.
The president said the discussions which began as “irritating distraction” were being used by “mischief-makers” to heat up the polity, and denied authorizing campaigns for a re-election.
“Nothing could be farther from President Jonathan’s mind at this point in time than the 2015 elections,” presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said in statement on Saturday. “The President has definitely not directed or authorized any individual or group to launch any campaign on his behalf.”
Mr. Jonathan said he was preoccupied with tackling the nation’s intractable security and developmental troubles to give consideration to planning for a re-election.
“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, President Jonathan wishes to reiterate that his primary concern and the focus of all his efforts now, just about a year into the four-year tenure for which he was elected in April 2011, is to deliver on his promise of positive national transformation,” the statement said.
The response appeared targeted at what seems to be increasing political sensitivity to the president’s ambition after Henry Okar, the detained leader of the Movement for the Emancipation for the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed to have been informed the president will seek a new tenure in 2015.
While there had been a broaching of the issue before, it appeared to have gathered steam since Mr. Okar’s claim became public last week. In an earlier statement, the president denied all of Mr. Okar’s deposition in a court affidavit.
The former leader of the militant group, who is standing trial in South Africa, in connection with the 2010 Independence bombing in Abuja, said Godsday Orubebe, the Minister of Niger Dleta and a member of the president’s inner circle, confided in him that Mr. Jonathan will stand for a new term.
According to Mr. Okar, the minister said the president was to pretend to be interested in a single un-renewable term ahead of last year’s election (2011), after which he will start position himself for re-election in 2015.
The president’s statement said every talk of his 2015 bid were “pointless, diversionary and very distractive hue and cry.”
“The President’s sole preoccupation as the nation moves towards the first anniversary of his administration on May 29, 2012 is to continue to give effective and purposeful leadership that will steer Nigeria towards overcoming its immediate security and developmental challenges,” the statement said.
But the failed to clearly state whether or not he will stand elections. Instead, he blamed “mischievous” politicians for seeking to distract the nation.
“As he has repeatedly warned on many occasions, including the last national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, the inordinate ambition of a few self-centered Nigerians and their obsession with the politics of political succession in 2015 must not be allowed to distract the nation and its current leadership from the task of dealing with the much more urgent issues of development and the safety of Nigerians in all parts of the country.”