Following the release of the 2015 election timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, President Goodluck Jonathan will soon hold a strategic meeting with his kitchen cabinet to decide on whether or not to run, his Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, has said.
However, the decision may not be taken until April because the Presidency may want to spend the next 90 days on effective governance to better the lot of the citizenry in line with the President’s promise of a better 2014 for Nigerians.
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard, Obi, who also described as uncalled for the directive of the Interim National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to its federal lawmakers to shut down governance, said it was worrisome that leading politicians and elders were making reckless and inflammatory statements that could hurt the country.
Asked if Jonathan will declare his ambition now following the INEC’s timetable, he said the presidency was not expecting.
He said: “I want Nigerians to understand one thing. I have been on the side of the opposition for very long. Now, I am in the executive, current leadership.
“President Jonathan appealed to Nigerians and said he would not discuss politics until 2014. Despite all the pressure mounted on him by the opposition to draw him into politics much earlier than 2014, he resisted it; he continued on the path of governance and maintained that he would say something in 2014.
“Now we are in 2014. INEC has spoken, we do expect that with all of these, I am sure he will sit with his kitchen cabinet and look at the pros and cons, what his administration has done and then take a position clearly on what his next line of action will be.”
On when this meeting will hold, Senator Obi said: “Like I said he will meet with his kitchen cabinet, they will study the INEC guidelines and timetable and decide: what do we do? Where do we go from here?
“Nigerians will be adequately informed at the appropriate time. As far as I am concerned, they still have some two to three months to really concentrate on governance and that is the Jonathan philosophy.
“His New Year message was very clear: Nigerians will enjoy a better 2014, which means there are certain things he will want to put up that will make a difference. Let’s complete that process before we go into the political event. Let’s create the atmosphere for a better Nigerian environment.”
Faulting the APC’s call to shutdown governance until the Rivers State crisis is resolved, he said: “I do not know the circumstances under which APC leaders said their National Assembly members should block the 2014 budget, screening of ministers and confirmation of the service chiefs.
“With all due respect, the budget is not only for politicians. That statement from the National Executive Committee meeting of the APC is uncalled for. How can you make such a statement?
“I was a senator. Then we sit down and review issues. We had executive sessions where we ask ourselves: ‘what we are discussing now is it a national issue or partisan issue?’
“Senators are respected because they discuss national issues: they don’t allow partisan political interests to overwhelm the discourse.
“Until last week, no President had ever forwarded the names of service chiefs to the National Assembly. President Jonathan did it. The next thing is the opposition saying, ‘no, block it!’
“Things that affect the military is not something we should rush into and get deeply involved in but I am happy that the current Senate President is a highly respected retired general and one of the longest serving legislators in this country. So he combines the experience of a war general and that of an accomplished legislator to navigate.
“I am sure that my colleagues, friends and associates in the opposition, having issued that directive to their party members in the National Assembly will by now be having a second thought. It is like climbing a tree beyond the leaves. It is uncalled for.” [Vanguard]