THE Middle Belt Forum of Nigeria yesterday revealed that they were ready to give President Goodluck Jonathan mass votes in 2015 whenever he declares his intention to contest because they voted for him immensely in the last presidential election.
Chairman of the forum, Prof. Jerry Gana stated this yesterday at a one-day sensitization workshop on A Minority Interest Rights Project organised by a Jos-based human rights organisation, Stefanos Foundation, which was held at the Jossy Royal Hotel, Bukuru, Jos South.
According to Gana, the Middle Belt region is ready to do again what it did during the last Presidential election when the region voted the president.
“When he (the President) declares, we are very willing but we will not go ahead of him because it is extremely important in democracy. We are ready but we want to hear from Mr. President. Once he does that, the leaders (of the Middle Belt) will meet, we let our people know. I know that we will do it again. We are not promoters; we are strong supporters.”
On whether the President is vacillating in declaring his 2015 ambition, Gana said that he is not because, “we have a tradition that now becomes something that is enshrined. Democracy is not just about elections. When you elect a government, you should have a period to perform, to do the work, deliver excellent work in terms of various needs of development.
“We advise them and is very correct that they work for the people at least for two to three years before you now announce. Democracy is not just about elections, no; democracy is about development, good governance, delivery of excellent services for our people, good roads, good education, good economy, everything. So, he is working and at the right time, he will now announce.”
The former minister noted that, “if he doesn’t create that tradition, people are just worried that you win election today, you haven’t done anything yet, tomorrow you want to announce for the next one. I think we should salute him for his wisdom in saying, ‘look, Nigerians, you have elected me. Let me serve you. At the end of that two, three years of service, I will now announce whether I am standing or not.’ It is appropriate.”
Speaking on the challenges posed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Jonathan’s re-election in 2015, Gana said that in a democracy that Nigeria is developing, it is a healthy development for the country.
“Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has actually promoted that; we are not afraid of it. We have been very convinced about it that democracy will be deeper and better if there is a real challenge. Over the last 14 years, the PDP really, we have just physically dominated the political scene seriously.
“Now there is a good challenge and the most democracies of the world that are good, usually you have essentially two parties. In Britain, Labour and Conservative. In the US, the Republican and the Democrats. In most of the solid democracies, the choices before the people will be clear. This is a development, so, we are not in any way threatened. Now, before Nigerians, there will be the PDP and APC and the difference is clear. So, we are not threatened at all.”
Speaking on those elected on the platform of the PDP who now defected to APC, Gana said those defected lawmakers have automatically lost the mandate given to them by the people constitutionally.
“In terms of the constitution, because you can’t be an independent candidate, therefore you are elected on the platform of the party. Nobody is elected on the platform of your name. So, when you voted, you voted either PDP or whatever party. So, there is a mandate. If you are given a mandate as a governor, or given a mandate as a senator or given a mandate as a member of the House of Representatives, the constitution says if you are changing that platform, you have lost that mandate unless if the party you are coming from is divided and that group is merging with another.”
He continued: “Virtually in this case, the PDP after the convention, both the INEC and a High Court of Nigeria declared that there is no division in the PDP. The PDP is just one. So, there is no division. So, anyone who leaves now should have the courage of their conviction to say, ‘look, I am leaving this party and the mandate.’ Why are they afraid to leave the mandate?
“Let us go back to the people. If they defect, fine. Let us go back to the people. Let the people decide. You no like am? But you like our mandate. No, no, that is cheating.”
On the national conference, Prof. Gana said that this time around, Nigerian people are not gathering to decide on democracy, adding that Nigerians have already decided that they want a democratic nation and this goes further to question how they should live in peace and solidarity and agreement.
He reasoned that it would be difficult for two people to work together, unless they agree.
“All ethnic nationalities should be heard whether they really want and how they want to live in Nigeria. Let all Nigerians be heard. Let all the ethnic nationalities be represented at the conference so that we hear them so that at the end of the day we will now agree, how we are going to live together peacefully under our democracy. We have already decided on democracy.”
The coordinator of Stefanos Foundation, Mr. Mark Lipdo, expressed gratitude to the resource persons and participants, who are drawn from Adamawa, Taraba, Kwara, Benue, Yobe, Niger, Bauchi, Kogi, Kaduna, Abuja, Nasarawa, Borno, Gombe, Plateau and Kebbi States.
Prof. Jerry Gana, Mrs. Sarah Jibril, Dr. Bala Takaya, the Head of Department of English, University of Jos, Prof. Isaac Lar, who represented the chairman of the occasion, were among the people present.