By Danlami Nmodu
President Goodluck Jonathan has not made any open declaration of his intention to run for reelection yet.But there are clear hints that even as he congratulated US President Barack Obama over his victory, Nigeria’s president too has been working on his 2015 reelection plans.The first hints however indicate that things have not been smooth sailing in his ruling Peoples Democratic Party ,PDP.
What appears self -evident to discerning on- lookers is that with every passing day, fresh hints continue to emerge about the secret moves of President Goodluck Jonathan towards his 2015 presidential reelection campaign.What is known now is that an office manned by Habu Fari, a former chief of staff to Bamanga Tukur ,the national chairman of PDP has been set up to work according to sources ,towards the president’s 2015 reelection campaigns. But the road to the appointment of Habu Fari, an estranged ex aide of the PDP chairman is long and tortuous.
In fact questions arise from Jonathan’s decision to sign on a man sacked by the national chairman of the party.How did Fari end up working for Jonathan? Did he squeal on his former boss ? Some of these questions are begging for answers.
Newsdiaryonline.com has also learnt that there has been a deep rooted in-fighting within the ruling PDP despite all claims to the contrary as the stakeholders look towards 2015 presidential ticket.
Here is the background: Informed sources said very early in the day , a disagreement emerged between president Jonathan and Tukur who was anointed by the president against the wish of the North east zone. Despite supporting Tukur every step of the way to the office, Jonathan did not seem to trust Tukur well enough because the president immediately wanted three of his loyalists to be employed as aides to the new national chairman. But the new chairman rejected the move because he too was suspicious of Jonathan’s intentions. Among the men Jonathan wanted Tukur to employ as aides include someone said to be from Katsina state and two others who are from Jonathan’s ethnic group, including a professor.
Tukur named Habu Fari who is from Taraba state as his chief of staff, a move that was rejected by some insiders.But it did not take long for a rift to ensue between Fari and his boss. Surprisingly the same chief of staff Tukur employed is now serving the president.
Sources said Habu Fari ran into trouble with the NEC members including Tukur when he objected to the salary structure that was proposed for national officers with Tukur getting about N2million monthly. The chief of staff was said to have objected to approval of N13million meant to be given to INEC auditors. Habu Fari recommended that N300,000 should be given to them. Newsdiaryonline.com could not confirm if any money was eventually paid to the auditors and for what purpose. Eventually ,Habu Fari was sacked by the PDP chairman as his conflict with top party members worsened.
Just as the Fari saga was going on, Jonathan was believed to have refused to give financial support to Tukur’s executives because of some of the scenarios above: failure to have his men around the chairman,the disagreement between Habu Fari and the chairman et al.And the entire story became confounding.
Just as people were about trying to understand what happened between Habu Fari and his former boss, new emerged that he has been appointed as DG of a new political structure working for Jonathan.Was Fari working for the president ?Did he provide information to the villa against the chairman? No clear confirmation of these suspicions exist.But the appointment of the ex chief of staff to the party chairman as head DG of the president’s campaign office in Jabi Abuja is undoubtedly raising eyebrows.
What has become clear , is that Jonathan’s campaign for second term, 2015 has begun to take a definite shape. An office at Jabi, Utako District, Abuja has now fully taken off. It is located near Chida International Hotel, with Habu Fari as the Director-General, “Jonathan 2015” And he has already assumed office. Interestingly as well , Newsdiaryonline.com learnt that the three people Jonathan wanted Tukur to appoint as his aides are now part of the new office .The office is believed to have some cars also allocated to it.
In the main Habu Fari is being assisted by mainly Northern politicians. Sources said President has identified the North as his main problem as far as 2015 is concerned.That is why he has decided to throw everything into the effort to counter this opposition. This task is in the hands of Northern politicians.
Jonathan and his men hope that Fari’s experience will come in handy.He was the Chairman of a registered political party, the National Democratic Party, NDP. He was the Director-General of Ibrahim Babangida’s Campaign for the Presidency before it was overtaken by the Northern Consensus arrangement which saw former Vice President Atiku Abubakar coming forward as the Northern candidate for the 2011 presidential election. When IBB lost the race, Fari became a director in Atiku’s Campaign Office.
Fari later emerged as chief of staff to the PDP Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. As chief of staff , he and the other elected officials, particularly the party’s General Secretary, Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd) could not work together. One source actually suggested that when the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan stepped into the crisis at the party headquarters, he asked all the Special Advisers, including Fari be asked to leave.Another interesting twist.
Some insiders have however said the fact that Fari has been hired to nurture the President’s campaign for 2015 in spite of Northern agitation for the Presidency in 2015 did not come as a surprise. “Wherever there is money, Fari has no qualms being there” ,one source said.But many of his watchers are worried about what is now being perceived as his ‘mercenary politics’ just for the money.Some others even fear that Fari may be playing a game because “I don’t think he can truly break his umbilical cord from Bamanga Tukur, who made him” said one close watcher.Umbilical cord or not, Fari is now working for Jonathan . His second-in-command in the new project is is Alhaji Aminu Yakudima, a Borno State politician who served as Special Assistant to Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo as PDP Chairman. Before then, Yakudima was a political officer in the Atiku Campaign Organization.
It is believed that the Campaign Office is to work with the office of the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, as far as their needs for publicity are concerned. Okupe has himself hired a number of officers, the latest addition being Malam Nasir Zahraddeen, a former Deputy President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ who retired recently as an Assistant Director in the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA.
Insiders told Newsdiaryonline.com that Jonathan and his loyalist have never truly believed in or trusted the PDP.Even during the 2011, it was “in the last minutes that the party was brought in”said a source. “The Jonathan people did their analysis and came to the conclusion that the party may be lukewarm to his ambition.That was what gave rise to several campaign platforms like Neighbour to Neighbour and the Door 2 Door among others”.
“Maybe now, their (Jonathan’s) suspicion of the party is stronger and that explains why they have started again by setting up a parallel body.And the choice of Habu Fari may indeed imply that they truly want to focus on the north,” an insider said.
Continuing a knowledgeable insider said “their big problem is how to crack the north.The regime is busy accumulating money now because they believe it is money that will solve the problem for them in the north especially in the far north. Because even in the 2011 elections, they believe it was their money that gave them the little support they were able to muster from the far north in particular .They are going to use money in 2015 because they believe in 2011 it was money that made them get it . This time around, they are going to be employing the same method and with more vigour now that they are truly in government .Their strategy is centred on the use of money.”
Attempts by Newsdiaryonline.com to hear from Habu Fari failed as his telephone number was repeatedly unavailable.
All these 2015 manoeuvres by Jonathan among other are believed to be the reason why Tukur hit back when the PDP announced some time ago that there would be no automatic ticket for anybody with regards to the 2015 race. Close watchers of the party’s intrigues believe this statement was targeted mainly at Jonathan.
But exactly who is Tukur working for?As 2015 intrigues overwhelm the party, different kinds of allegations have emerged as to who the national chairman may be working for. For instance there is a deep suspicion within the party that Tukur is either working for the North or the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is believed to have been resuscitating his 2015 structures- some insiders see the former vice president as a “strong candidate”.Others within the party also accuse Tukur of working for the man called the ‘Trillionaire Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio who is also believed to be eyeing the 2015 presidency.But some party insiders are believed to have told Akpabio to look towards senate instead.But he is believed to have some strong backers in the party.
Apart from Jonathan’s ambition,some of the governors especially those of Northern states are are also suspicious of the intentions of Tukur .Most the northern governors namely Sule Lamido of Jigawa ,Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano state,Ibrahim Shema of Katsina, Babangida Aliyu of Niger and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi state are known to have 2015 presidential ambition.They openly refused to grace Tukur’s book launch sometime ago alleged because of the growing suspicion enveloping the party and they have not been attending party meetings called by Tukur.
Some of these governors are believed to have been taking steps towards realizing their ambition. Lamido is believed to be appointing coordinators across the country.Governor Aliyu of Niger State is alleged to have told his cabinet that he will be contesting for the presidency in 2015.Yuguda is said to have heralded his 2015 campaign already by assuring the south that he would ensure 50% derivation formula especially to oil producing states.
The rumblings within the PDP were said to be so intense that some time ago that the PDP chairman was seen in the office for some 45 days .But there appears to be an attempt to paper over the cracks now.The chairman accompanied the president on a visit to Jigawa state,this week.
With some northern governors ,Gov Akpabio, ex Vice President Atiku Abubakar and President Goodluck Jonathan eyeing the seat,more intriguing times lie ahead.There is even the contention by some of the party insiders that the claim to the presidency by the South East is fast becoming an issue adding to the intensity of party’s intrigues.Newsdiaryonline.com has learnt for instance that some topshots have been reaching out to leaders from the south east including Orji Kalu trying to sound them out..How this will affect the calculations towards securing PDP’s 2015 ticket remains to be seen.