2015 campaign: APC wants INEC to sanction Jonathan’s wife
The All Progressives Congress, the umbrella of major opposition political parties, on Friday asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to investigate media reports that stated that the wife of the President, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, campaigned for her husband’s re-election during her visit to Rivers State, and sanction her appropriately.
Several media reports on Tuesday, quoted the President’s wife as asking the people of Obio Akpor Local Government Area of the state to support President Goodluck Jonathan when he seeks re-election in 2015.
This, APC noted, occurred less than two weeks after INEC warned politicians against starting campaign ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The spokesmen for the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Congress for Progressive Change, the two leading parties in APC, Mr. Lai Mohammed and Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, respectively told SUNDAY PUNCH that INEC had no moral right to sanction any other person, if it failed to sanction Mrs. Jonathan, and others who had started drumming up support for the President.
Mohammed said, “If it is true that Mrs. Patience Jonathan has started campaigning for her husband, then INEC’s attention should be drawn to that because just two weeks ago, INEC warned against campaigning of any kind. If INEC does not sanction her for campaigning, then it will lose every moral right to sanction any other person who starts campaigning.”
Similarly, Fashakin said the action of the President’s wife was a display of the culture of impunity, which he said had characterised the Jonathan administration.
He said, “The bane of our society is the culture of impunity that has become very pervasive. It has become even worse under Jonathan than any other time in the country’s history. That is the kind of thing you would see. The fact is that Jonathan has brought down the level of leadership in the country. We have not had it this low.
“Past Nigerian leaders, both military and civilian, were able to keep their spouses in check, but we have not seen that under President Jonathan. If the Jonathan administration prodded INEC to give the warning against campaign, and the same administration has gone on to flout the warning; then there is a problem.”
Fashakin said the APC expected INEC to analyse Mrs. Jonathan’s comments and if found to be open campaign, appropriate sanction should be applied.
He said, “We believe INEC should have monitors. INEC is the regulator of the political parties. It is to regulate the conduct of political parties. If it does not have a mechanism to monitor this kind of thing and give sanctions appropriately, then it should close shop. It is not for us to tell the regulator its job.
“The President’s wife’s speech was well reported. So, if anything in that speech constitutes open campaign for the President, and since it’s not yet time for politicking, then it’s an infraction of a subsisting regulation and it is anctionable. INEC should know what to do.”
Also, a former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, on Monday said he and some groups decided to start campaigning for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election in 2015 despite his directive to the contrary because of the disposition of those opposed to the President’s second coming.
Clark said the position of his group, which was formed in August 2010, was that all Nigerians were equal, irrespective of which side of the country they hailed from.
In its reaction, the Presidency on Friday said it was wrong to describe the mobilisation of support currently being done by wife of the President as campaign ahead of the 2015 elections.
Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, made the Presidency’s position known in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.
Gulak said what Mrs. Jonathan was doing was to mobilise support for President Goodluck Jonathan in order for him to continue to deliver on his agenda for national transformation.
This, he explained, did not translate into campaigning for the 2015 elections.
He said, “What the woman is doing is to ask citizens of Nigeria to support the President because he actually needs their support.
“The President is revamping the railway; he is tackling insecurity; he is tackling power problem; he is constructing roads and bridges. In all these, he needs the support of the citizens to succeed. He cannot do it alone.
“What we have been saying and what the First Lady is saying is that Nigerians should give the President their support. That does not mean we are campaigning.”
Apparently concerned with the campaigns that had started for his reelection, Jonathan, during the 61st National Executive Council meeting of the PeoplesDemocratic Party in Abuja on Thursday, advised his party leaders against defying the INEC’s ban on any form of politicking for now.
Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as Amended) states that, “For the purpose of this Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.”
When contacted the spokesman for the chairman of INEC, Mr. Kayode Idowu, told one of our correspondents to give him some time to confirm the media reports before responding.
However, he did not answer subsequent phone calls and did not reply to a text message sent to his mobile phone as of press time.