From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati said yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan was too honest to engage in underhand tactics to realise his ambition, even as he said the Office of the President is too important for Jonathan to behave in a cowardly manner by sponsoring faceless groups to sell his candidature ahead of 2015 elections.
The re-election campaign posters of President Jonathan hit Abuja at dawn on New Year Day as uproar trailed the development. Already, the Presidency has denied its involvement, describing those behind the posters as detractors and people “doing their own thing”. This was coming as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) urged the President to call those pasting the posters to order while the Jigawa State House of Assembly asked Governor Sule Lamido to run for Presidency.
The umbrella body of Igbo socio-cultural organizations, Ohanaeze, said the posters were plots to destabilise the polity. Other groups said the incident was an act of desperation by the faceless group to heat up the polity. Abati told State House correspondents yesterday that President Jonathan as a honest man, has said he will focus on the job at hand and make his intention known in 2014. “Our position remains that President Jonathan has not launched any campaign for re-election in 2015. He has not asked anybody to go and paste posters around Abuja. Whoever those people are, they are acting on their own. They are not President Jonathan’s agents.They are on to their own mischief.
“The second leg is that the President has been consistent with the issue of 2015. In the last presidential media chat, he said he was not talking about 2015 as at this moment. He had been given assignment by the people which is to see through the Transformation Agenda, to ensure the different changes he has promised in life and society. That is what he remains committed to. “Those who are bent to distract this government has brought out the posters.
I repeat that President Jonathan knows nothing about them. The President of Nigeria has an office that is so important that he cannot behave in a cowardly manner. This is a man who is honest and have reputation of being honest”, Abati said. Asked if security agencies are on the trail of the sponsors, he said: “The security agencies have their jobs cut out for them.
If they feel there is anything that is likely to disturb the polity, that is likely to affect the integrity of the state or they feel something has happened and they need information, that needs to be investigated, then of course, they will do their job.
“They don’t even need to wait for presidential directive. It is part of their normal duty to find out what is happening in the environment particularly if what has happened is a matter of public interest”, he noted. Asked why the President has not ordered the removal of the posters if truly he knew nothing about them, Abati said, “the President does not need to give any order. People whose job it is to ensure that nothing goes wrong within the Nigerian state will do their job.
They will make their own assessment; they will do their own investigations. If they feel that there is any threat whatsoever to public peace, to rule of law and order, they will make sure that that is not allowed. “What I am telling you is that the President has not launched any campaign. What all of these show you is that the contestation for power in Nigeria is quite a complex one and people will go to any length to push their own agenda.
This is not coming from the President. When the President takes a position in terms of his own personal involvement or otherwise with regards to the 2015 elections, you can be sure he will come out to Nigerians and say this is where he stands on this matter the same way he did on previous occasions. But the President is not going to adopt this kind of tactics that you see on display”, Abati said.