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PDP Primaries: Inside story of how governors saved Jonathan

When some party stalwarts summoned an emergency meeting at the residence of Senate President, David Alechenu Mark, and rose from the meeting after about two hours, it was clear the battle line had been drawn. The meeting had just one agenda: how to floor Atiku. It was resolved at the meeting to beat Atiku Abubakar, one of the presidential aspirants at the time, to his own game.

“Match him money for money, campaign for campaign, intrigue for intrigue,” one of those who attended the meeting reportedly advised. Sources said the managers of President Jonathan’s team had become jittery when news filtered that the Adamawa-born politician may have begun an all-out campaign and was said to be ready to spare no effort in making sure that President Jonathan was floored. As part of his preparations, Atiku was said to have bought over more than 75 per cent of the hotel rooms in Abuja and there were fears that some of the delegates believed to be loyal to the President may be stranded by the time they all arrive Abuja.

The said meeting, which had in attendance all the campaign coordinators of the president’s campaign team reportedly summoned another of all the 36 state governors where the president was said to have begged the governors not to let him down, insisting he was also part of them and that it will be easier for them to cooperate than having an Atiku at the helm of affairs.
Jonathan was said to have argued that even the vice president was himself a former governor and that with proper arrangement future presidents of the country will  be chosen from among the governors henceforth.

The game plan
Sources said one of the major decisions taken at the meeting was that the president should make move to have direct “handshake” with the delegates. All the governors, therefore, agreed to summon all their delegates to their respective liaison offices in Asokoro, where the president was to meet with them.

Indeed, up till the wee hours of Thursday, it was gathered, the president was meeting the delegates personally and “shaking their hands.”
At this point, it was  further learnt that the Atiku group may have reached their wits end and to compound matters, some of the delegates said to be loyal to him were moved to another location.

In fact, at the point that Atiku’s delegates could not be located, sources said frustration set in their camp. This was said to have led to the decision by the Atiku camp to prepare the speech he read at the convention ground where he seemed to be pricking the conscience of the delegates to remember the agreement on zoning and also harping on the issue of trust which he mentioned more than seven times in the speech.

The decision to inscribe names of respective states on the ballot boxes was said to be part of the resolutions at the earlier meeting. It was gathered that one of the governors from the South-West was said to have suggested the marking of the ballot boxes. According to a source, it was the only way that votes could be tracked to really know how the states voted.
Sources said after the meeting at the liaison offices, most of the delegates were given little or no time to be free before they were brought to Eagle Square for the convention.

The deal
Some of the governors were said to be apprehensive over the emergence of President Jonathan, on the grounds that former President Olusegun Obasanjo appears to have a lot of influence on the president. Jonathan was said to have made a strong promise to water down the ex-president’s influence and that the governors will play a key role in his administration.  He said he would be in a better position to tackle an Obasanjo influence if he emerges president in the April elections.

The governors were also said to have demanded that embattled national chairman of the party, Okwesilieze Nwodo, be shown the way out of the party after the general elections. They were said to have argued that in the event that Jonathan wins, there would be need to overhaul the party machinery to reflect the federal character posture in the nation. They also added, it was learnt, that Nwodo’s relationship with Atiku should not be ignored, insisting that the former vice president is not one to easily give up in  a political fight and he can use all available means to affect the electoral fortunes of the party even in the April polls.

Jonathan agreed to toe the line of the governors but that it has to be done systematically. He was said to have also promised to consider increasing allocation to states, using ecological funds, among others.

Rebellious governors
It will be recalled that even before he finally assumed the position of president of the country, the governors had shown their disdain towards Jonathan and refused to support his emergence. So, it has been a marriage of convenience between the president and the governors. Analysts believe that the governors have always taken advantage of Jonathan’s widely believed naivety and always tried to arm-twist him. They had battled him over ecological fund. Even at the party level, the governors fiercely resisted plots  by the presidency to make political appointees automatic delegates to the convention. If Jonathan  had had his way, he would have taken the party machinery away from the governors.

Similarly, Jonathan’s attempt to manipulate and have the presidential primaries before the governors’ was contested and the governors had their way.
Sources hinted it was out of frustration that Jonathan apparently threw caution to the winds and announced that the governors will be given automatic return tickets. One good turn deserves another!

With Jonathan’s victory at Thursday’s presidential primaries, the stage is set for the party to test its electoral fortunes nationwide.  But whether the deep-seated internal bickering within the party and the perception, in some quarters, that his emergence is in clear breach of an unwritten zoning agreement, will see the PDP through the general elections will certainly be dictated by both electoral and political forces that is just inevitable.

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Posted by on Jan 14 2011. Filed under Latest Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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