Flagging-off of his presidential campaign in Lagos today, President Goodluck Jonathan told a crowd of party faithful that the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, was procured by some Nigerians to assassinate him.
Nigerian and South African intelligence, he said, however foiled the plot.
In 2010, when MEND claimed responsibility for the Nigeria’s Independence Day bomb explosions in Abuja, Mr. Jonathan absolved the group of blame even when MEND announced that Jonathan had asked it to blame Northerners for the explosions.
Speaking further today, Mr. Jonathan suggested that MEND’s endorsement of Buhari for next month’s presidential election means that Mr. Okah has political connections with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr. Jonathan’s outburst today is curious because in addition to denying’s that MEND carried out the 2010 Independence Day bombing, which claimed 27 lives including those of security agents, neither Nigerian nor South African prosecutors ever claimed that the attack targeted the Nigeria ruler. On the contrary, Mr. Okah provided evidence that several aides to President Jonathan were in communication with him, asking him to not claim responsibility for the bombing. Such aides, including Oronto Douglas and Tony Uranta, pressured Mr. Okah to implicate former military dictator Ibrahim Banged as well as the owner of Africa Independent Television (AIT) in the bombing.
Observers say Mr. Jonathan’s new account follows internal and external pressures upon him to find something he can hang his campaign on given the unexpected support General Buhari is gaining nationwide.
On Tuesday, at the inauguration of Jonathan’s Presidential Campaign Organisation in Abuja, party chairman Adamu Mu’azu turned to Jonathan and denounced what he called the “immense injustice” in the party and asked him to stop it, saying, “A lot of people who left did so because of injustice” [in the PDP].
“We say that members of the PDP should not be used and dumped again,” Mu’azu said in his unprecedented remarks which revealed deep internal wrangling. “People leave the party because of lack of equity or injustice.
“Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop. That must stop. This time round, monkey must work and monkey must eat.”
He further declared: “The membership of the APC, LP, APGA and others are increasing because of this.”
It was also extremely curious, and unprecedented, that as many as nine PDP governors, some of them reportedly worried about the implications of Jonathan’s growing unpopularity for their political survival, failed to show up at the Abuja flagship event. They included Theodore Orji (Abia), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Martin Elechi (Ebonyi) Sullivan Chime (Enugu), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Idris Wada (Kogi), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo) and Jonah Jang (Plateau).
The organisation, headed by a former National Chairman of the party, Senator Amadu Ali, is saddled with the responsibility of selling the candidature of President Goodluck Jonathan and his deputy, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, to Nigerians for the February 14 presidential election.
But only a handful of the governors were in attendance.
Among the governors at the event were Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), James Ngilari (Adamawa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe State).
However, governors Theodore Orji (Abia), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko(Ondo), Sullivan Chime (Enugu), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Martin Elechi (Enugu) were absent from the inauguration.
Also absent at the inauguration were governors Idris Wada (Kogi), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Jonah Jang (Plateau).