The All Progressives Congress, APC, has asked Nigerians to blame President Goodluck Jonathan if the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, continues to spread in the country.
This was in a statement by the party’s spokesperson, Lai Mohammed on Sunday.
Mr. Mohammed accused the president of refusing to stop the rally organised by the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, urging him Mr. Jonathan to contest the February 2015 presidential election, despite warnings by groups and individuals on the Ebola issue.
APC had asked the president last week to halt the rally following the detection of the dreaded disease in the state.
TAN held its south-south version of the rally in Port Harcourt urging Mr. Jonathan to run in the election despite the warning on the dreaded Ebola disease in the state. During the event it said it collected 4 million signatures.
The group had earlier held similar rallies in Awka, Anambra State in the South East zone where it said it collected 1.6 million signatures and Ibadan, Oyo State in the South West zone where it collected 1.8 million signatures asking the president to run.
The group plans to move to up north where it will hold the rallies in Minna, Niger State in the North Central on September 13; Gombe in the North East September 20; and Kano, North West September 27. The grand finale of the rally holds at the Eagles Square, Abuja on September 30.
The president had earlier directed religious and political groups, spiritual healing centres, families, associations and other bodies to discourage gatherings and activities that may unwittingly promote close contact with infected persons or place others at risk.
The APC said it had never seen the president of country a sabotaging his administration’s policy and endangering the lives of his compatriots as Mr. Jonathan had done with the Ebola issue.
The opposition party noted that it was Mr. Jonathan, who declared a national emergency on the dreaded disease and directed that there should be no mass gathering in order to curtail the spread of the virus, that later became the first person to violate the directive by refusing to stop the Port Harcourt rally.
According to the party, TAN did not only hold the rally few days after Ebola was discovered in the city, but also when efforts were being made to trace those who might have come into contact with the medical doctor who died of the disease.
‘‘On the altar of political desperation, President Jonathan put the lives of Nigerians in danger. In order to realise his ambition for re-election, President Jonathan has shown he is ready to sacrifice as many lives of Nigerians as possible. There goes the President’s statement that his political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. This President simply says what he doesn’t mean,” the APC said.
PREMIUM TIMES could not reach the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, and the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, for comment.
TAN’s Director of Media, Udenta Udenta, however, told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday that the group had sanitised “every location and there is no cause for alarm,” hence the rally would be held.
However, speaking again with this newspaper after the rally, Mr. Udenta expressed regrets over the criticisms trailing the conduct of the rallies, saying they were misplaced.
He insisted there was nothing wrong with TAN organizing the rallies and that similar events hold every day in other climes even when elections were not in view.
“My worry is about the hue and cry. People should know that when I am in something, it is a very serious thing. This is democracy and what we are doing is in line with democratic practice. Campaigns for elections go on every day in other places. Even (Barack) Obama raises fund every time. Citizens are allowed to participate in the process. We are just driving our agenda. We have not even told anybody Jonathan is contesting. This is public advocacy and all these things work together,” he said.
He explained that he had participated in the political process since the return of democracy in 1999 and that he was convinced of TAN’s objective of asking the president to seek re-election.
On the 4.1 million signatures collected in the south-south zone, the TAN official debunked the claim in some quarters that it secured them during the rally.
He explained that the group collected the 4.1 million signatures from the south-south zone urging Mr. Jonathan to seek re-election in 2015 over a period of two months from all the wards, town unions and other bodies in the six zones making up the zone.
The states in the zone are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States. While Mr. Jonathan hails from Bayelsa State, his wife is an indigene of River States.
Mr. Udenta stated that TAN traversed the six states within a period of about seven weeks during which it collected the signatures.
On the rallies in the north, Mr. Udenta said the documents for the collection of the signatures in the three zones of the region would go out soon.