Afenifere Endorses Jonathan
After what had appeared as a group's indecision, Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural body, on Tuesday endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan for the February 14 election.
The endorsement was the outcome of the meeting the president had with the leaders of the group in Akure, Ondo State.
The meeting was held at the residence of the Leader of the group, Chief Reuben Fasoranti and attended by leaders from the South West geoplitical zone of the country.
At the end of the meeting which lasted about one hour, the publicity secretary of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin said the decision of the group was due to the commitment of the president to the National Conference.
He said Afenifere believed that the confab is the only thing that can liberate the nation.
He said the president had expressed his commitment to implement the report of the confab report.
Odumakin said the president informed them at the meeting that Yoruba were the ones that were in the forefront of the clamour for the confab.
Also speaking, Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko said what Afenifere did was an unequivocal endorsement of the president.
Mimiko said Afenifere expressed belief in the transformation agenda of the president describing it as systematic and strategic for the development of the nation.
The group, which had fraternised with the Jonathan administration, had before now prevaricated on a full support scale to the Jonathan re-election bid.
But in his response, a former governor of Anambra State and Deputy Director General of South in the PDP campaign organisation, Mr Peter Obi said he was not surprised at the Afenifere endorsement, stressing that, "Afenifere has always committed itself to the best interest and unity of Nigeria", adding that the endorsement meant that, "Nigeria will endorse Jonathan".
Meanwhile in an apparent nod to a younger generation of leaders, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday effectively eliminated Vice-President Namadi Sambo as his successor should he win next month’s presidential election, saying the next Nigerian president must be below the age of 60. Sambo is already 60 years old and will be over 64 by 2019.
Jonathan, who spoke to the crowd at the Lafia Township Stadium during his presidential campaign rally in Nasarawa State, said his administration believes in the youths and would do everything possible to support the younger generation.
“Obasanjo was president at 70, Yar’Adua at almost 60 and me close to 60, so the next president must be younger than me,” Jonathan stated.
Jonathan stressed that his administration would invest in the younger generation and promised a place for them in the future, adding that youth empowerment would be a major plank of his government, if he is re-elected president.
He also told his supporters that the crash of the price of petroleum products would make the federal government focus more on solid minerals, which Nasarawa State has in abundance as part of the diversification process.
Jonathan also publicly disowned former Information Minister Labaran Maku, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Maku, who is former information minister in the Jonathan administration, is APGA's governorship standard-bearer in Nasarawa State and he was alleged to have claimed that the president encouraged him to defect to the party.
Jonathan said he had at no time had any discussion or encouraged Maku to join another party.
The president stressed that PDP is against anti-party activities, and as the president and leader of the party, he would never flout its rules and regulations.
He assured the people of the state that the mineral resources that abounds in it would be tapped.
He also gave an assurance that Doma Dam would be completed soon, as it would act as catalyst to dry season farming.
"What is good for
you we will not wait for you to demand before you get what is rightly yours.
"We want to change the concept that farming is for the poor but that it is for the rich because the farmers in America are millionaires. We have changed the entire process of agriculture and added the value chain to make it a business.
"We want power to stabilise in the state so as to also boost the agriculture sector in the state", Jonathan said.
His deputy, Sambo, noted that "PDP is Nasarawa State and Nasarawa State is PDP."
While canvassing for votes, Sambo reeled out the achievements of Jonathan's administration, which included power, education, rail, agriculture, transportation, adding that the president would do more should he return to power after next month's elections.
Also joining in the bashing of Maku, Senate President David Mark called on him to apologise and retrace his steps, before he could be accepted back to the party.
Mark, who took a swipe at Maku calling him a liar, also told the crowd that "don't be deceived by any son of yours that says he has been put in another party to run for the governorship. Mr. President is PDP from top to bottom."
Mark stressed that the North-central zone was solidly behind Jonathan and would vote for him as he had brought democracy dividends to bear on the region.
Mark, had earlier told the students of the College of Agriculture, Lafia that the present administration had shown uncommon commitment to education, youth employment and development.
Mark, who addressed the students from his official car shortly before the president landed in the school compound in his chopper, cited the YouWin programme and establishment of the universities under this administration as a demonstration of Jonathan's commitment to youth development.
"The emphasis that the current administration is putting on education is in the right direction. I know that most people are complaining of unemployment but the government is generating employment through YouWin, youth programmes, SURE-P. These are areas in which government is putting a lot of attention.
"For those of us in the parliament, we are also putting emphasis in making sure that there is enough money in the budget for all the educational institutions to run them properly. Unless there is enough money, you will not be able to practise agriculture. It is good to learn agriculture on paper but you must also get the practical experience.
"So the PDP government is committed in continuing these laudable programmes" Mark said.
On his part, Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam, also said the North-central would vote for Jonathan because of his achievements.
He expressed confidence that PDP would win back Nasarawa State, describing APC as a party of liars and propagandists.
A former national chairman of the party, Dr. Amadu Ali, also described Maku as an "ungrateful animal", saying despite using the platform of the party to rise to stardom, he jumped the ship because of greed to team up with APGA.
He said Jonathan never asked anybody to join any party to canvass for him, noting that Maku's plot was to smear the image of Jonathan and portray him as a religious bigot.
He accused Maku of dropping the name of the president in his bid to realise his ambition, an ambition Ali said would never come into fruition because Maku lacks the integrity needed to realise such ambition.
Ali said Maku's people now treat him (Maku) with disdain because he does not portray leadership qualities.
He said Maku was a commissioner, a deputy governor and a minister all on the platform of the party, placing a curse on him that he would continue to fail henceforth except he retraces his steps, return to the party and apologise