President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday warned ministers, aides and other political appointees against campaigning for any office in 2015, saying that anyone who contravened the directive would be eased out of his government.
Speaking at the 58th National Executive Council, NEC, of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abuja, Jonathan frowned at meetings being held ahead of 2015. Such distractive tendencies, he said, would prevent the government from delivering democracy dividends and affect party unity. Until the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, releases its time-table for 2015, he stated, party stakeholders must continue to work towards the actualization of the government’s transformation agenda.
The president said: “Let me also plead with those who are interested in the general elections in 2015, as I have noticed that some people have just started some meetings. It is too early to hold meetings but people must respect the electoral laws and the constitution as INEC normally declares it open.
“The idea is that people who were elected into the offices as governors and president be given time to work. In a situation whereby a governor has not even stayed for a year, the president has not stayed for a year, and you start harassing people for 2015 is another way of saying everything is election. There must be time to work. At the federal level, if you are holding a political office and I notice that you are involved in meetings for 2015 election I will ask you to leave and go and hold your meetings, because that meeting is too early and government must not be distracted. Nigerians are interested in what we put on ground for them, not how many elections we will conduct and win,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan, who congratulated the governors of Sokoto, Bayelsa, Adamawa and Kogi states on their elections, called for continued unity, promising that the era of imposition was over in the party as, henceforth, elections will become a focal point in the party.
The president continued: “I plead that the unity of the party and the cooperation of all of us is paramount and we should not fight ourselves because it will not translate to dividends of democracy, because for PDP to be regarded as a party that has succeeded that means that the governors will perform, the president and the states will perform. What we want are roads, good roads, health facilities, power and so on, not people wearing boxing gloves and doing shadow boxing in different forms.
“We belong to the same party, we must believe in the party and the party must discipline us including Mr. President. We must emulate what happened in South Africa, because ANC is a strong party. Even when the president feels he is bigger than the party, they would push him out from the party. So, nobody should be bigger than the party; the party must insist on that.
“We are going in for election now to elect our party officials and I plead that from the ward congresses to the national convention, let us insist that people are elected democratically.
“Let us begin to move from the culture of imposition, because if we start this from our party, then, of course, we are sure that primaries or general elections in 2015 will also be democratic and, of course, the general elections will also be free and fair. And as a party we’ve been able to develop that culture at the presidential election and we can maintain that.”
The president ordered the immediate withdrawal of the November 2011 Subsidy, Reinvestment and Empowerment (SURE) programme booklet that adorned the seats of the venue of the meeting, saying it had become necessary to withdraw them so that Nigerians do not think the government was playing politics with its promises, more so that the expected source of funding for the SURE programme – fuel subsidy – only witnessed partial success in terms of removal and hence limiting the expected funds from government.
“I think as I came in I saw this SURE book being distributed, we are withdrawing it. This is the old one that we developed with the expectation that we were going to completely deregulate the downstream of the oil industry by 100 per cent removal of subsidy."
You know we could not achieve that; though there is increase in the pump price there is also need for adjustment.
“I don’t want this thing to be distributed. It will give a wrong impression that Jonathan’s government promised this and that and has done nothing. We are working on a new document based on the reality on ground, but we don’t want to promise what we will not achieve. Those who have it, please withdraw it. We cannot realize the money that is stated there, but we will still come up with a document based on what we get,” the president said.