In a remarkable change of tone, ex-militant leaders from the Niger Delta zone who had threatened mayhem if President Goodluck Jonathan was defeated in the forthcoming presidential election, yesterday pleaded with Nigerians to vote to re-elect the incumbent president. They suggested that Mr. Jonathan be returned to office based on what they described as the noticeable achievements of his administration, noting that the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) had waged a campaign of hate against the president.
Speaking as members of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiatives (LPCDI), the ex-militant figures stated that, though the media campaign against President Jonathan was filled with hatred and deceit, the Nigerian voters should support the president’s re-election based on the achievements of his administration in the areas of education, power, infrastructural development and security.
The ex-militants issued their new toned-down endorsement of Mr. Jonathan at the end of a meeting presided over by the group’s national coordinator, Reuben Wilson, popularly known as General Pastor Reuben. The meeting was held yesterday in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State. The group called on voters to focus on Mr. Jonathan’s performance instead of the rhetoric of hate against his administration.
Briefing reporters on the outcome of their meeting, Mr. Wilson said, “we resolved to call on Nigerians, particularly eligible voters, to rate the candidates for the presidential election based on performance and eligibility. President Goodluck Jonathan has done well and he should be voted in by Nigerians for [a] second term. They should assess him based on performance and not the region he comes from.”
His tone differed from a previous stance when the group warned that they would not countenance any attempt to vote out the president, with some of their members threatening that they would shut down oil production should the president be defeated.
In their latest softened statement, Mr. Wilson told reporters, “Jonathan has done well. Why are people opposing him? Is it because he comes from the Niger Delta? Would they have shown so much hatred and insincerity if he had come from the northern part of the country? The people of the South-South and the Niger Delta are feeling bad over the rising insults and poor rating in spite of the huge achievement of the present administration. We advised the opposition party and General Buhari to come out [openly] and declare that President Goodluck Jonathan has done well.”
He added: “Nigerians should check the achievements in the areas of security, peace and development. The amnesty program under the capable hands of Honorable Kingsley Kuku has ensured that over 3,000 youths are trained on scholarship and skill acquisition. Aside from showing readiness in the battle against insurgency with the proper procurement of arms and ammunition for the military, President Jonathan has ensured the recovery of over N300 billion of stolen funds and blocked any corrupt loopholes in the system. He has done well also in the area of roads and infrastructures with the judicious use of Sure-P funds.”
The ex-militants accused state governors who defected from the PDP to APC of playing to the gallery without differentiating their achievements in office under the PDP and the APC. “These governors are deceitful. They should tell Nigerians what they have been able to achieve under the APC. They should call their people together and tell them why they should vote for their stooges in the next governorship elections under the APC. All they have achieved in the states under their control was achieved under the PDP,” the group stated.