President Goodluck Jonathan is reportedly testing the waters with a four-pronged strategy ahead of his formal declaration for the 2015 presidential race, it was learnt yesterday.
It was also learnt that he has foreclosed any plan to drop Vice President Namadi Sambo as his running mate for the forthcoming elections.
The Namadi Sambo Committee set up by Jonathan to work out modalities for his declaration is reported to have recommended three strategies to the president to test the waters before formally declaring his intention to seek re-election.
He reportedly accepted all three recommendations and added one of his own.
According to The Nation, the strategies are: holding rallies in some states to receive defectors; zonal rallies to mobilise PDP members and gauge their feelings; and visitation to the Presidential Villa by governors/groups/opinion leaders to persuade Jonathan to go for a second term.
The fourth strategy, which is already in play and designed by the president’s kitchen cabinet, is intermittent worship in some selected churches of different denominations to “win their sympathy subtly ahead of 2015”.
A reliable source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Going by the proposal of the Declaration Committee, the president may make his second term intention known during the third anniversary of his administration in May or early June.
“The committee has however set machinery in motion for Jonathan to test the waters in three ways ahead of the declaration. The strategies are defection rallies in some; proposed zonal rallies to mobilise PDP members; and visitations to the Presidential Villa.
“After the three strategies have been executed, the president will then come out to declare his intention to seek a second term mandate.
“And judging from the defection rallies, the journey to 2015 has started. Although PDP has not been campaigning, the body language of its leaders at the rally suggested that it has kicked off the race for 2015”.
On the fourth strategy, the source added: “It is a product of the kitchen cabinet of the President”.
When asked why the president will contest in 2015 in spite of an alleged promise he made to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo that he would not seek a second term in office, the source added: “The 1999 Constitution guarantees the President’s right to contest for a second term in office. And a constitution is superior to any other promise or so-called agreement which no one has produced.
“The President will also be relying on the principle of equitable estopel to seek a second term. A promise is a shield but not a sword. What it means is that a promise is lesser in strength than a right. The President deserves the right to seek a second term; no promise can override it”.
It was learnt that Jonathan is favourably disposed to retaining Sambo as his running mate in 2015, contrary to the initial push by some forces in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Prior to the decision of the president to retain the former Kaduna State governor, there were underground moves to replace him with either of Katsina or Bauchi State governors – Ibrahim Shema or Isa Yuguda respectively.
But a presidency source said: “I think the President has decided to stick with Sambo as his running mate. This was why he appointed Sambo as the chairman of the Declaration Committee.
“In fact, Shema and Yuguda are members of the Declaration Committee, foreclosing the chances of the governors becoming the VP.
“The stable presidency which Jonathan has enjoyed with Sambo was a critical factor in guiding Jonathan to make up his mind.
“Instead of what obtained during Obasanjo’s presidency, Sambo has been trailing the shadows of his boss. He is not rocking the boat in any manner.
“The recent political gains in the North-West by Sambo also encouraged the President to give his deputy a second chance too”.