By Andrew Ikehi
In a deft move to grab a last-minute voter-converts to ensure victory for President Goodluck Jonathan at the February 14 poll, Chairman of PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, on Sunday did a note of a passionate appeal to the North, reminding it of the need for the region to ‘strengthen the existing political alliance’ it has with the South-south by voting ‘overwhelmingly’ for the President.
Anenih, in a statement that came less than a week after the one in which he appealed to Nigerians to ensure the unity of the country during and after the election, urged the north to consider the decades of cooperation given by the people of the south-south to candidates of the north and reciprocate the gesture with a renewed mandate for Jonathan.
The statement reads: “Last week, I made a passionate appeal to Nigerians on the need for us to ensure, during the forthcoming elections, that the nation remains unified and keeps moving forward in unity. With a few days to commencement of the 2015 Presidential election, I find it expedient to send this appeal specifically to our brothers and sisters in the Northern States.
“The election is the most important as it is the precursor to the elections at the state level, which come up on February 28. For me, however, the critical issue in the February 14 Presidential election is justice. While I do not intend to wish away your legitimate right to be President, I urge you to consider the decades of cooperation given by the people of the South-South to candidates of the North.
“In all the democratic elections in Nigerian history in which a Northerner had contested, statistics show that the South-South often voted overwhelmingly for such a candidate.
“In the First Republic, political parties in the South-South were in alliance with the Northern Peoples Congress while in 1979, the South-South people voted massively for Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Most recently, the Zone also voted massively for Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua who got over 80% of the votes in all the States of the South-South.
“What I ask of you is to reciprocate this show of solidarity and vote massively for our son, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, on February 14, 2015. This will only be a fair reward for the consistency of our friendship.
“I need to emphasize that this is the first time that the South-South has had the opportunity to produce the President of Nigeria. It is an opportunity for which we have been grateful since 2011. However, the people of the Zone would feel short-changed, if they were to be denied the opportunity to have a full complement of tenure. A second term for President Jonathan, who remains the best candidate for the presidency, will be the only just arrangement that the people of the Zone would cherish.
“May I say that the choice of voting for President Jonathan has been made easy for us all by his commendable performance in all the sectors of our national life during his first tenure. In agriculture, the economy, infrastructure, education, women and youth empowerment, the Jonathan administration has touched the lives of all Nigerians.
“I seek your massive support for President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential election on February 14, 2015. We need to continue to strengthen the bridge of unity and understanding among all the peoples of this great nation. It is only by making concessions and compromises that we can transform our diversity into great strength. There is no greater time for concessions and compromises than now.
“May I take this opportunity to call for moderation in our electioneering and politicking. The threat of violence right from the time the presidential candidate of the APC, General Muhammadu Buhari, changed his mind that he would contest is unfortunate. We would reasonably refuse to accept a situation where a Nigerian, whether from the North or the South, would start his political journey with a threat that the baboon and the dog would be soaked in their own blood if what happened in 2011 happens in 2015; whereas 2011 election was adjudged by international and domestic observers as the best election that we ever had in the nation’s poll history.
“I know the antecedents of each of the presidential candidates on parade for the 2015 election. I also know that the threat of violence or rejection of anticipated election victory will not change the will of God.
“And on the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission, I expect the election body to up its ante. In any human endeavour, there is always room for improvement. There is no doubt in my mind that in the 2015 presidential election, INEC will improve on its preparations and the conduct of the election.
“I appeal to all of us to come together to help in the effort to move Nigeria forward in unity and harmony. God bless President Jonathan; God bless the PDP; God bless Nigeria.”