South-South, Middle Belt elders endorse Jonathan for 2015

President Goodluck Jonathan

The president said he would not be distracted by the campaigns.

Elders from the South-South and Middle Belt comprising North Central and North East zones on Monday endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan for the 2015 presidential election.

The elders led by two elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark; and former Senate President, Ameh Ebute; met behind closed doors with Mr. Jonathan at the State House in Abuja.

Mr. Clark, who addressed State House correspondents after the meeting said, members of the group under the aegis of Congress for Equality and Change, were drawn from 19 States.

“We have an organisation known as Congress for Equality and Change, everybody in Nigeria is equal to the other, nobody is superior or inferior to the other.

“There must be changes in this country; we have to move forward, we have been living in a country where we have been building bridges between the various groups.

“There are minority groups, there are majority groups and unless we understand one another, it will be difficult for us to survive as a country,” he said.

Mr. Clark said the group was opposed to a position in some quarters that Mr. Jonathan was not eligible to run for the 2015 election.

“You know very well that I will never lead a group that will be opposed to 2015, not because Clark is saying so.

“It is written in the constitution of Nigeria. Shagari did so, Obasanjo did so. Shagari’s second term was taken over by a military man.

“Today, he (the military man) wants to be president. He staged a coup in 1983; I was also a senator at that time.

“When it came to Obasanjo, he did eight years under the constitution and some of my northern friends have said all they said was a second term for Shagari.

“If Jonathan wants thereafter, he could do so. If Shagari was entitled to two terms, why not Jonathan or is it because he is a minority,’’ he said.

Mr. Clark said the group consisted of minorities of the middle belt and south-south that came together in 2010 during the debate on whether Mr. Jonathan could become an acting president or not.

“We thought to oppose that which is very clear from the constitution of this country was an injustice and unfair.

“For us to survive in this country, anybody who is qualified to be president whether he is a minority or a majority must be given the opportunity.

“Since 2010, we have not been able to meet Mr. President and we thought other groups have been meeting him, we too should meet him,’’ he said.

Mr. Clark said they were already meeting with other groups and other stakeholders on the Jonathan for 2015 agenda.

“We are already in talk with other groups to educate them, they had their turn and for the past 50 to 53 years, we have not ruled in this country.

“Are we not citizens of this country, let us be fair to one another,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the president has declared that he would never allow himself to be derailed from pursuing the Transformation Agenda to its logical conclusion.

The president position was contained in a statement issued by Presidential Spokesperson, Reuben Abati, on the outcome of the closed door meeting.

“President Jonathan pledged that his administration will continue to work diligently to build on the achievements catalogued in its mid-term report to the nation.

“The President also reaffirmed the Federal Government’s unwavering commitment to moving Nigeria progressively forward along the path of development articulated in the Transformation Agenda,’’ he said.

Mr. Abati said the president commended the elders for “working tirelessly to bring us to where we are today’’, and for their continued support.

Other prominent persons at the meeting include Felix Ibru, Bolere Ketebu, Cairo Ojiuogbo, Salibu Mukoro, Lawrence Onoja, Alphonsus Ogbe and Esther Uduehi.

Also at the meeting were Ministers of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke; Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe; Housing and Urban Development, Ama Pepple; and Works, Mike Onelememen.

Others are: Minister of Information, Labaran Maku; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke; and the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Ahmed Gulak.



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