A huge crowd of people from across the South-west gathered at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan, yesterday to show their support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term as the regional rallies set in train penultimate weekend by the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria was berthed in the zone. Surpassing the 1.6 million people from the South-east that were said to have put their signatures to the endorsement of the president for another term, chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South-west collected 1. 8 million signatures of the zone’s people said to be for Jonathan’s second term.
However, Ekiti State governor-elect, Peter Ayodele Fayose, was conspicuously absent at the rally. The Ekiti State chapter of PDP had in a release Thursday by its publicity secretary, Pastor Kola Oluwawole, said it will not participate in the TAN rally because it did not have the blessing of the leadership of the party in the South-west geopolitical zone.
“We are dissociating ourselves from the so-called proposed meeting/rally in support of President Jonathan’s second term ambition as announced by the coordinator of Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), Mr. Ifeanyi Uba, former Labour Party governorship candidate in Anambra during the last Anambra governorship poll and the CEO of Capital Oil.
“Our reason being that the planned meeting/ rally has not received the consent or blessing of leaders of the PDP in South-west,” Ekiti State PDP had said.
Many prominent politicians in the management hierarchy of PDP in the South-west attended the Ibadan rally yesterday organised by TAN, a group led by Kingsley Kuku, which says it wants to collect over nine million signatures of Nigerians from the six geopolitical zones endorsing Jonathan’s second term. They included former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George; South-west caretaker committee chairman of PDP, Chief Ishola Filani; former Oyo State Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala; former Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State; former Senate leader Teslim Folarin; Prince Buruji Kashamu; former governorship aspirant in Oyo State, Yekini Adeojo; Seyi Makinde; Hazeem Gbolarumi; and serving senators Hosea Ayoola and Ayo Adeseun.
Others at the event were Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory Olajumoke Akinjide, Chief of Staff to the President, Jones Arogbofa, and Minister of Police Affairs Jelili Adesiyan.
Jonathan was not at the event, but his chief of staff told the gathering that the president was watching the proceedings live. He said the huge crowd at the rally was a demonstration that the people of South-west were with Jonathan. Arogbofa urged the president, who is yet to declare a second term ambition, to contest next year’s presidential election, saying it is by popular demand.
One of the highlights of the rally was the handing over to Secretary to the Government of the Federation Anyim Pius Anyim by Arogbofa of a booklet containing signatures of South-west people said to support Jonathan’s second term. Anyim said 1.8 million people from the Yoruba South-west had signed the register asking Jonathan to contest and continue with his Transformation Agenda beyond 2015.
The SGF said the signatures compilation for the return of Jonathan for a second term “is an ongoing exercise and similar rallies would be held in all the geopolitical zones of the country before the presentation of the overall documents in Abuja next month.”
Before presenting the booklets to the SGF, Arogbofa described the South-west zone as a home to Mr. President, recalling that the zone was the first to adopt him ahead of the 2011 election.
“I want to call on my people to let's work with unity of purpose and I can assure all of us that if we work together, the reward will be superlative. We worked for Mr. President in 2011 and we all can see that there's no regret and this time around, we will not regret but have more and better reward,” Arogbofa said.