L-R: President Goodluck Jonathan; Pdp National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu; Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State and Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, at the Peoples Democratic Party South-East rally in Enugu… on Friday
| credits: NAN
President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed that the Peoples Democratic Party will capture the entire South-East region in the 2015 governorship election.
The President, who spoke at the Unity Rally organised to reconcile aggrieved party members in the zone on Friday, said come what may, the PDP would capture Imo State in 2015 and complete the circle in the South-East.
The President spoke shortly after some of the security personnel drafted to provide security at the venue of the rally in Enugu on Friday exchanged blows.
The exchange of blows, which involved members of the Nigeria Police and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, was as a result of complaints of alleged harassment of policemen drafted to the rally venue by the members of the civil defence corps.
Saturday Punch learnt that it took the intervention of members of other security agencies like the State Security Service, Army and the Federal Road Safety Corps, to prevent the police and NSCDC fight from escalating.
The President, who said the PDP would clear the seats totally, explained that the party had been magnanimous enough.
He said, “In the South-East, the PDP is total. Every state has a maximum of three senators and a minimum of three senators. It is now clear the South-East is a PDP zone.”
Though the President refrained from mentioning the name of the All Progressives Congress, he took a swipe at the opposition party, describing it as nothing near progressive. He said the PDP was more democratic than other political parties in Nigeria.
He said, “One party tags themselves as progressives but where are they progressing to. It is only in such progressive party that you find an ex-governor determining who gets what and how.”
He asked, “Is that what you mean by progressives?
“We are not like one party in this country where one man or a group of people determines how the party is run.
“The national chairman of the PDP or any of its governors can’t cancel a ward congress of the party just like that and with impunity. I as the President don’t even have the powers to do so, but it is happening in a political party in this country.”
He said the PDP was more democratic because it would not cancel ward congresses across the states without considering the wish of its members, adding that it was not like some other party where a local government chairman can cancel a ward congress for no justifiable reason and without the people’s opinion.
President Jonathan said the PDP is the only political platform in Nigeria where the voice of the people could count and decisions are taken based on the majority and popular vote.
The President, therefore, urged the Igbo people to support the PDP, saying, “The PDP would not disappoint you.”
He said the PDP is the only democratic party that could take Nigeria to join the rest of the democratic world.
“It is the only party where the President would not impose a candidate. It is the only party where people like me from a non-privileged background can stand here and talk,” he said.
But in a swift reaction, the All Progressives Congress on Friday said President Jonathan had lost the moral authority to lead the nation by violating all electoral laws and campaigning ahead of time.
Interim National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this in response to a declaration by the President that the APC lacked internal democracy.
Mohammed said “When a President who is the number one citizen violates all electoral rules by campaigning well ahead of time, that President has lost the moral authority to lead a country.
“It is sad that the President cannot speak about issues but personalities.
“We would have been interested if he talks about the jobs he has created, how many roads he has built, how he is tackling health care and the insecurity in the nation and above all, how he is tackling corruption.
“He is doing none of these, we are not surprised because no one can rise above his capacity.”
On his part, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, called on the Ndigbo to remain committed to the party.
Mu’azu said that the recent spate of defections to the PDP was only a sign of the good things to come to the party.
He said, “As we continue to welcome our old members back to the party, we are equally working towards a true and sincere reconciliation where everyone would be accommodated.”
The PDP national chairman added that once true reconciliation is achieved, “no other party shall defeat the PDP ever again.”
Mu’azu used the occasion to welcome back Ezenwa Onyebuchi, a member of the House of Representatives, to the party.
He said, “Onyebuchi is returning to PDP because he has seen light at the beginning of the dark tunnel and not at the end of the dark tunnel.”Onyebuchi defected to the APC some months ago.
The Senate President, David Mark, however, urged the President to ignore criticisms of his government and remain focus in the transformation programme of his government.
Mark appealed to the President not to be distracted by criticisms, as they would only make him better.
“If we don’t criticise you, who will?” he asked.
Meanwhile, there was also exchange of blows between over 500 supporters of Orji Uzor Kalu and police officers on Friday.
The incident occurred during the South-East PDP rally held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, in Enugu. The rally was tagged “Unity Rally.”
Kalu is a former governor of Abia State and his return to the PDP has remained contentious.
The fight started when the police refused the former governor’s supporters from gaining entry into the stadium. Kalu’s supporters were tagged supporters of the All Progressives Congress by security agents and therefore, they were stopped from gaining entry into the venue of the PDP rally.
Kalu’s supporters left the scene after soldiers joined the police officers to resist their entry into the venue of the rally. They returned two hours later after they had pulled off their green branded t-shirts that bore the name of their principal – Orji Uzor Kalu. This time now, the police officers, fewer in number, couldn’t recognise them.
Two police officers told our correspondent that they were only acting on orders from the current Abia State Governor, Mr. Theodore Orji, not to allow Kalu’s boys into the venue. They spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“We were also given orders by some unknown persons not to allow supporters of Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani into the place should they come close,” said one of the police officers.
The current Abia State governor was Chief of Staff to Kalu when he was governor, but the two fell apart shortly after the former took over as governor. Since then, the successor has always engaged his predecessor in a battle for supremacy in the state.
Though Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State was commissioner for Justice when Dr. Nnamani was governor, the two also went their separate ways months after Chime was sworn in.
Despite Nnamani’s recent return to the PDP, Chime’s camp has repeatedly disputed that.
Meanwhile, the hostility between Chime and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, continued at the rally. Chime failed to recognise Ekweremadu while observing the protocols that preceded his speech.
A day before the rally, some armed men were said to have invaded the Enugu residence of the former PDP Chairman in Udi Local Government Area of the state, Mr. Uche Ogbodo.
The armed men took away both the PDP bus in his custody and his private car.
Sources close to the former chairman and known supporters of Ekweremadu said the incident took place shortly after he (Ogbodo) came back from the court.
They stated that the hoodlums, about 10 in number, gained entry into the compound and made frantic efforts to enter the residence but were hindered by the iron grids on the door.