President Goodluck Jonathan is set to run as the sole candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its November 2014 presidential primary. Reason: the national leadership of the party has secretly agreed to allow the president take the presidential ticket without any opposition from within. By implication, the deal on the much-touted automatic ticket for President Jonathan has been sealed.
Regardless of the automatic ticket deal already struck in favour of Jonathan, the leadership of the PDP will not entrench it in the constitution of the party “in order to avoid needless crisis in the future”, LEADERSHIP was told in confidence.
According to an impeccable source, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), the decision to give President Jonathan the “right of first refusal” became necessary for two reasons: the need to avoid bickering and deepen internal party democracy and the absence of any serious presidential aspirant in the party.
Nonetheless, the source was ambivalent on whether or not same gesture would be extended to PDP governors serving their first terms.
“You can see how interesting the entire political landscape is looking now; in the APC, there is turmoil over Muslim-Muslim ticket; they cannot agree to conduct peaceful ward congresses; yet, their target has always been the PDP and the Presidency.
“As a party, the APC lacks all democratic norms but it is the PDP they always abuse even at odd times without reasons. What you have seen in the APC is just a tip of the iceberg; that party will soon erupt in flames, and that is why I pity those PDP governors who abandoned their party to join them, thinking that there will be room enough for them.
“All those who said they were leaving the party because PDP was planning to impose Jonathan and Sambo with the belief that they would either be presidential candidates or running mates to someone have all been disappointed now; they have seen that, unlike the PDP, APC has landlords and tenants.”
Asked if it was democratic for the party to contemplate automatic ticket for Jonathan, the PDP chieftain said it was nothing new in democracy: “It is not a new thing in democracy; every democracy has its own peculiarities. In any case, if the governors left because of that, what is worse between having a Muslim-Muslim ticket without any democratic process and one which is implemented through the rules?
“In our own case, yes, we have been alleged to be planning to impose Jonathan but we shall follow very enviable democratic principles to have him as our candidate; for the first time, Nigerians will witness respect for party rules and institutions because we have to deepen democracy.
“It is annoying and very distracting for a sitting president to go through the rigours of party nomination when in actual fact he is entitled to another term in office. The best thing to do is to allow him move on and that exactly is what the leadership of the party has already agreed to do for President Jonathan come October or November this year. I can bet you that he would be the sole candidate of the PDP at the primary.”
On the governors, he said, “What is of paramount interest is what I have told you.”
LEADERSHIP gathered that, at a meeting of party stalwarts at the presidential villa sometime in March this year, it was agreed that the last National Executive Committee (NEC) before the presidential primary will endorse the president for another term.
However, in order to avoid legal complications, even though President Jonathan would stand as the sole candidate, delegates would have to vote to ratify the NEC’s decision.
PDP’s national publicity secretary Olisa Metuh was circumspect in his reaction to the issue. “The party will follow its constitution to the letter; anything outside the constitution will not be done and once you lay hands on our constitution, the provisions are clear and unambiguous,” Metuh said on telephone.