Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday insisted that President Goodluck Jonathan must contest the 2015 presidential election.
Obasanjo, who said this during a reception organised in honour of the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Jubril Martin-Kuye, at Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, urged members of the Peoples Democratic Party to unite.
The reception was organised in honour of Martins-Kuye by the founder a political organisation, Omo Ilu Foundation, Mr. Buruji Kashamu.
The former president had in an interview with Voice of America some nights ago, faulted former National Chairman of the party, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, who said Jonathan was barred from contesting the presidential poll because of the zoning arrangement of the party.
Obasanjo‘s stand had however generated controversy. While his former deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubabar, insisted that the zoning arrangement must be complied with, the first National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Solomon Lar, said the zoning arrangement in 1999 was temporary.
The former president was said to have started wooing elder statesmen to support Jonathan‘s bid to contest the election.
Last week, there were reports that the former president caused a stir at the Presidential Villa during his visit when in his usual comical manner, he pointed at the President and repeatedly said, “You will run, you will run, don‘t tell me that you are thinking about it. We just have to move forward.”
On Sunday, Obasanjo, who spoke immediately after Senator Lekan Mustapha addressed the PDP supporters at Ijebu Igbo, said that he supported Mustapha‘s stand on zoning and power shift in the country.
Mustapha, who represents Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, had said Jonathan should run for the presidency in 2015.
He said that he had not found any reason why Jonathan ”should not spend beyond 2015 as President.”
He said, ”Someone has said it and I know that when that person talks, that is the way it should be. I‘m not saying the person is Baba Obasanjo but when he says it that is what happens. Personally, I don‘t see why Jonathan should not continue in office beyond 2015. I believe that is the way it should be.”
In his speech, Obasanjo said he agreed with Mustapha on what he said concerning ”what we are talking about in the country.”
He said, ”I have never deceived you before. It has always been said that whatever we do in Ogun State is where Nigeria is going. Our Senator has talked about power shift in our country. If a Senator has spoken, who am I, a farmer, to oppose a Senator? So, if you have listened to him, you already know that‘s where I belong. I think you understand what I‘m saying? In PDP, we are one family, we should be one; there should not be factions.”
The former President denied that he sacked Martins-Kuye in his first term in office, saying it was an established policy that a minister could only serve for four-year tenure.
Martins-Kuye expressed delight at the presence of the guests, praying that Obasanjo would continue to be alive to lead the party.
At the event, a former Governor of Oyo State, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo said that zoning had become anachronistic.
He said, ”Zoning is not good for Nigeria. Modern political arrangement has gone beyond the issue of zoning. What is good for Nigeria is what our party will do. So, Jonathan is free to contest the election because he is not using his term in office.”
The ceremony was also attended by the Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly, Mr. Tunji Egbetokun, his Deputy, Pastor Remmy Hazzan; member PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tunde Oshunrinde; Chief Bisi Rodipe; members House of Representatives, Mr. David Salako and Mr. Rasak Adewusi.