Some governors of the Peoples Democratic Party are not happy with the speed with which their party celebrated the court judgment that cleared President Goodluck Jonathan to run for second term.
The governors wondered why the party, which they said ought to be impartial, would rush to congratulate the President on the court case.
It will be recalled that an Abuja High Court ruled on Friday that the President was free to contest the 2015 presidential election.
Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, while delivering judgment in a case filed by Mr. Cyriacus Njoku in which he challenged Jonathan’s eligibility to contest the election, ruled that the President’s assumption of office as a result of the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua was caused by “doctrine of necessity”, which was adopted by the National Assembly.
Njoku had filed the case against the President, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the PDP, seeking an order to prevent Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential election.
But the judge declined to accede to the request of the plaintiff, ruling that since the President did not emerge president through a by-election after Yar’Adua’s death, he was free to contest.
The judge then ruled that President Jonathan’s tenure started on May 29, 2011 when he took the oath of office and not on May 6, 2010, when he assumed office after Yar’Adua’s death.
But immediately the court ruled, the PDP through its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, issued a statement, congratulating the President.
Metuh said in a statement that the judgment had laid to rest debates on whether or not the President was constitutionally eligible to contest the 2015 election or not.
Metuh had said, “The court held that President Jonathan is in his first term, which commenced on the 29th of May, 2011 and thus is free to seek a second term in office in the 2015 general election under the platform of the PDP or any other political party.”
Some of the governors said it was evident that the party had made up its mind to field the President.
One of the governors, who first spoke, said it would be difficult for the other presidential aspirants in the party to believe in the impartiality of the party’s leadership.
He said, “The party ought to allow the President and his aides to celebrate that judicial victory. It is wrong for the party, which is supposed to be an impartial arbiter, to celebrate such victory.
“That is what we are saying when we say we don’t have faith in the leadership of the party. But let’s wait to see how far the party and the President can go with its hijacking.”
Another one, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, insisted that the party was doomed, adding that it was wrong for its leadership to have been seen as being planted by the President.
He said, “The case against the President was not instituted by the opposition; it was filed by a chieftain of the party. Why is the party celebrating it as if it was instituted by the opposition political party? Now, the impression we are getting is that the party has already picked a candidate and the person is the President.
“For those who have genuine ambition, which is constitutional, and are still members of the party, they may have to look elsewhere.”
Metuh, however, defended the party’s action, saying the party was merely celebrating the judgement and not the President’s victory.
He said, “When the time comes in 2015, the party would create a level-playing field for all the Presidential aspirants. The President has not declared his intention to run. But we have to celebrate the judgment because it was a victory for democracy and the rule of law.
“When 2015 comes, we will be fair to all aspirants and contestants. We won’t be biased. This we can tell all members of our party.”
However, the Political Adviser to the President, Mr. Ahmed Gulak, said it was unfortunate that instead of using the Nigeria Governors Forum to discuss serious issues, like peer review PDP had found out that it was now being used to attack the party.
He told our correspondent in an interview, “We expected that the Governors’ Forum would be used to discuss their common challenges as a people, peer review.”