FEBRUARY POLL: JONATHAN ANGRY WITH MINISTERS, AIDES OVER APC’S ATTACKS
Posted by: Yusuf ALLI
This is not the best of time for many members of the Federal Executive Council and aides of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He is angry with them for allowing the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) get the upper hand so early in the campaign leading to the February 14 election.
He is particularly irked by the perception of his government by many Nigerians as ‘non-performing’ which he blames on the opposition.
This was evident at the flagging off of his campaign in Lagos on of the day defending allegations of incompetence levelled at his administration
Consequently, PDP strategists have returned to the drawing board with a view to checking the APC onslaught. They are tinkering with the option of the PDP fighting ‘dirty’ if necessary. Sources familiar with the development said that the President was unhappy that public opinion was turning against his administration in spite of what his ‘good performance’. It was gathered that that the pressure from campaign issues being raised by the opposition accounted for the manner in which the President spoke at the flag-off of his campaign in Lagos. President Jonathan,it was also learnt, opted to beat his drum if no one would do it .
This is expected to serve as a template for the party’s Presidential Campaign Council, headed by Director-General Ahmadu Ali. Sources said that the President was disturbed that most Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) were not defending issues brought up for public discourse by the opposition. One of the issues being considered now is a minor cabinet reshuffle which will see a Minister posted to take care of Information and National Orientation to fill in gaps during the ongoing campaign. One source said that the President is not comfortable with the lack of input from the Mini.
“The President was talking with anger in Lagos because of pressure from critics who were trying to writeoff his administration. He was under tremendous pressure to clear his image to prove that he had performed in office,” one source said.
“The President believes the MDAs and their Ministers are not reeling out the facts and figures enough for Nigerians to appreciate the modest successes recorded by the administration.
“You can see that from the way he has been taking in on the opposition, he is desperate to match them tit- fortat. At a point, the President was fidgeting. He alleged that the figures being reeled out by his critics were just wrong.”
Another source said: “From the look of things, the PDP and the presidency may engage in dirty campaign because the heat is too much. “Henceforth, you will see the PDP and government officials firing on all cylinders to prove one point or the other.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “PDP and Presidency strategists have returned to the drawing board to reshape the campaign.” Meanwhile, there were signs last night that the Presidency might engage a substantive Minister of Information and National Orientation to put all issues about performance in “perspective.”
A third source said: “The Presidency is not too happy about the handling of the government image. A little swap of ministers might take place to sell the achievements of the government to the public and defend allegations from critics and the opposition. “The new media focus is to be on the offensive instead of being on the defensive on performance-related matters.
“Some cabinet members have been short-listed to man the Ministry of Information and National Orientation because the Supervising Minister, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed is more of a diplomat than an information manager.”
The APC said last night described the February 14 Presidential election as a referendum to determine President Jonathan’s lacklustre leadership and performance after about six years in the saddle as the President.
The party in a statement in Abuja expressed disappointment that the President could raise issues about what he intends to do for the country after wasting the mandate freely given to him by the Nigerian people four years ago.
It expressed dismay and disappointment at the inability of President Jonathan to use the opportunity offered by his campaign outings to tell Nigerians what he has done for them in the last six years and recalled that President Jonathan had earlier said that parties and candidates should dwell on issues agitating the minds of Nigerians and how these can be solved, but said it was surprised that in his campaign outings so far including those of Enugu and Lagos, the President has been unable to do this.
It said further that at the PDP Lagos campaign flag-off and at Enugu, rather than the President telling the people of Nigeria watching on television and those at the campaign venue what he has achieved and what he intends to do differently, the second-term seeking President Jonathan spent valuable time reading copiously excerpts from the maiden speech of General Ibrahim Babangida who overthrew Buhari in 1985.
“Nigerians do not expect a political commentary from President Jonathan of a nearly 30 year old speech delivered to the nation by IBB. What Nigerians expect to hear among others is what he has achieved in the last six years and why corruption still remains endemic and the economy in shambles