The leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the South East geopolitical zone, yesterday, unanimously urged President Goodluck Jonathan to re-contest for a second term in 2015 assuring him of their total support for the race.
President Jonathan responding to the request assured Nigerians and the South-easterners in particular that he would never disappoint them even though he said time was not ripe for him to declare whether to run or not.
At the well-attended Unity Rally of the PDP South East zone held at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, yesterday, various speakers including the Chairman, South East Governors Forum and Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji and other South East governors called on President Jonathan to re-contest the presidential poll in 2015.
They insisted that on no account should he reject their request for his re-election, stressing that they would not mind conscripting him if he refused to declare his intention to continue in office.
Addressing the rally, Governor Orji said that President Jonathan had performed very well to deserve a second term in office and should heed the call by the South East to seek re-election.
He said: “If you say no, this zone will conscript you to run for 2015. You must have to contest. You have shown us that you can use power for the good of the people and the entire nation. We in the South East have resolved to stand solidly behind you and the PDP because it is only in the PDP that the South East can find shelter.”
Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State had set the ball rolling in the agitation by the South East for President Jonathan to contest when in his speech he said that the issue at stake was not whether Jonathan has performed or not but his acceptance to run for another term.
“Several meetings had been held within the party in the South East and it is our collective decision to make two requests from the president and that is, one, that Jonathan should run for a second term in office and two, that he should not disappoint the people of the South East by rejecting the call to run,” he said.
He called on Nigerians to appeal to the president to seek re-election saying it was the right thing to do at the moment.
In his response, President Jonathan who was visibly elated by the show of solidarity and support from the people of the South East, said that PDP remains the only truly democratic party in the country, stressing that other opposition parties cannot take Nigeria to the democratic world.
“It is only PDP that has those elements of democracy. PDP doesn’t believe in dictatorship and it is the only party that people outside Nigeria can recognize as a true democratic party and we shall continue to sustain the progress we have made.”
He thanked the people of the South East for their support assuring that he would ensure that the PDP takes over the entire South Eastern states in 2015 general elections.
Other leaders of the party including the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, Chairman Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih as well as Senate President, David Mark, expressed gratitude to the people of the South East for their steadfast support for the PDP and assured that the zone would always be carried along in the affairs of the party.
However, the rally which witnessed massive turnout of PDP members in the zone, was not without some ugly incidents as some policemen and officials of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC engaged themselves in a physical combat at Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium shortly before the arrival of the president and his entourage.
Also, the South East zonal publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Ali Odefa was attacked by some thugs for failing to announce the names of dignitaries from Enugu State reportedly given to him as the Master of Ceremony.
Some members of the NSCDC, who were among security operatives deployed to the stadium to ensure security during the rally, had a misunderstanding with some overzealous policemen who tried to push them out of their location in front of the VIP stand.
The disagreement quickly resulted to exchange of blows between members of the two security agencies while men of the Department of State Services, DSS, rushed to the scene to reconcile them.
The members of the NSCDC decried what they called unnecessary intimidation from the police. “We are here to do the same job of security; so they should stop chasing us away with their guns”, one of them said while being calmed by the DSS operatives.
Shortly after this incident, the PDP South East Publicity Secretary, Mr. Odefa, who was also one of the Masters of Ceremony for the event, was rolling out names of dignitaries when about 10 young men believed to be Governor Chime’s supporters rushed to the podium and tore his ”Isi-agu” (Lion head) cultural wear for allegedly refusing to announce properly the list of Enugu dignitaries given to him.
It took the quick intervention of security operatives to rescue him from their grip as they were dragging him around the podium in the full glare of the crowd in the stadium.
The young men who were threatening to pull down the podium, were however, overpowered by the security men who ordered them out of the stadium and they immediately walked away fuming.