The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Rufa’i Alkali, said on Monday that about 8,000 groups were rooting for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election and not 3,000 as he had earlier said.
Mr. Alklai had earlier said 3,000 groups based in Nigeria and abroad were asking the president to run in the February 2015 presidential election.
He subsequently inaugurated an 11-member committee led by A.T. Ibrahim, a retired army general to evaluate the groups with a view to harmonising them.
The members of the Goodluck Support Group Committee are Olusola Oke, Nick Eze, William Makinde, Mohammed El-Amin, Nimi Barigha-Amange, A.Y. Ahamad, Lamido Chikaire, Tony Edoh, Barakat Sani and Godson Nnaka, who served as the secretary.
Receiving the report of the panel, Mr. Alkali said contrary to his earlier submission, there were now 8,000 groups canvassing Mr. Jonathan’s entrance into the presidential race and not 3, 000.
“The preliminary observation from the report of the team is that contrary to our earlier position that there were about 3,000 groups rooting for Mr. President, we now have more than 7,000 support groups nationwide all calling on President Jonathan to declare for the Presidential race,” he said.
“Indeed, initially we printed 5,000 forms that were distributed to the NGOs and other Support Groups but the forms soon ran out and we had to print additional 2,000. As I am speaking to you now we have at least another 1,000 groups demanding to be screened.”
The presidential aide said his office would analyse the committee’s report in order to properly reposition the various support groups in readiness for the challenges expected in the build up to the presidential poll.
He said, “We want to assure every support group irrespective of their sizes, from two-man group to 20 million-man group that they are all important to us and we shall carry them along.”
Mr. Alkali asked the groups to begin to operate at the Zonal, State, Local Government Areas and ward levels.
He said, “They should mobilise men, women and youths for the great task ahead.”
Earlier, Mr. Ibrahim while presenting the report said Mr. Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should expect a tough contest next year.
This, according to him, was because the opposition was now well organised unlike the previous elections.
“We should expect a stiffer opposition in 2015 because the opposition is now strong unlike in what we had in 2011. The party and the Presidency should come up with a strategy that will ensure that the President is returned to power in 2015,” he said.