•Presidency denies knowledge

From Chuks Okocha in Abuja, 04.24.2010

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, awoke to find a rash of campaign posters in strategic places proclaiming Acting President Goodluck Jonathan as a Peoples Democratic Party presidential aspirant in the country’s 2011 general elections.

The posters were seen at the Garki Area 11 junction in Abuja and read: “For Positive Change, Goodluck Jonathan for 2011 presidential election.” But when contacted the acting president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Ima Niboro, said he had not seen the posters and was not aware how they got there.

Coming barely one week after the acting president’s interview on Cable News Network where he had given a vague response with regard to his political future, the posters tend to give credence to some analysts’ view that he may run for the presidency.

In an interview with Christianne Amanpour of CNN in the United States, Jonathan neither ruled himself out completely nor categorically said he would run for presidency in 2011.

He, however, declared that there are options for him such as running for Vice-President.

Jonathan also said that he is currently preoccupied with the numerous challenges facing the country in order to make an impact in the shortest time possible.

When asked pointedly by the CNN correspondent if he was considering running for election, he replied with a rhetorical question.
“If the country is not moving, what will I tell Nigerians if I want to contest?”

He then went on to narrate the circumstance of his emergence.

“I came in as the vice-president to run with President Yar’Adua, of course, getting close to period of election, he took ill. And I have to take over under somewhat controversial circumstances. So let us see how Nigeria will move forward first. I had a similar experience when I was governor of my state.” he said

Jonathan said the most pressing problem Nigeria faces is basic infrastructure particularly electricity. The next, in his view, is the conduct of free and fair elections where the votes of the citizens would count.

However, with the ruling PDP’s decision that its presidential slot will be retained in the north, Jonathan has apparently been ruled out.

Jonathan had also commented on the fate of the Chairman of the Indepe-ndent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Maurice Iwu. Jonathan said the issue is whether the present electoral body can conduct free and fair election or not.

He added that within the period that he has been Acting President, three elections were conducted by INEC and “it was free and fair.” This, he argued, proves that the issue goes beyond the INEC commissioner. Anyone can conduct a free and fair election, he opined.

Asked if Iwu is competent, the Acting President said: “I know that this question continues to come up. What I’ve said is… the issue is beyond Mr. Iwu.”

He continued: “I agree that within the period there are quite a number of controversies. I agree. There are quite a number of concerns. There are quite a number of controversies.

So I know what I’m telling you; that this very Iwu, I’m not trying to argue for him. The Iwu we are talking about has conducted free elections these past three elections that I’ve made reference to that are credible.”