President Goodluck Jonathan will formally declare his candidacy for next year's election in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Saturday (9/18/10).The event will kick off what analysts say will be the most intensely contested primaries and general elections in the country’s history.
Already, several powerful politicians, including former Nigerian heads of state,have signaled their intention to challenge Mr. Jonathan.
The president’s campaign is being led by the Fresh Air Coalition in Nigeria.Its national secretary, Daniel Kanu,says all is set for what he calls a historic event.
“There is an air of excitement in Abuja. For the past three days people are trooping in, in preparation for Mr. President’s declaration. I think with the upcoming declaration and Nigeria turning 50 on October 1, this presents an opportunity for the country to have a true rebirth. Banners, flyers are going up, there is an air of excitement and it is a good time to be a Nigerian.”
Ordinary Nigerians will attend tomorrow’s event, Kanu says.
“They are the ones who truly count and they are the most important people we are expecting tomorrow. Then of course you have their servants -- the governors, senators and House of Representatives members, both serving and past members. We will also have traditional rulers that will grace the occasion in support of Mr. President. So there will be a wide spectrum of Nigerians present.”
Kanu denies charges that Mr. Jonathan’s campaign organization plans to hire thousands of people to create an impressive crowd for the event.
“That is not a norm for Mr. President. He is a very popular man and we do expect crowds that come there to be people who do so at their own free will.
But Africa being what it is, we have a high level of poverty and if people are willing to go there, those of us that have the finances that would be able and willing finance their transportation. We don’t intend on renting crowds to Abuja but we will provide buses in remote areas where people cannot afford transportation.”
President Jonathan is already the front runner for the PDP presidential ticket, says Kanu, based on his performance and acceptance by Nigerians.
“I don’t see the president having major opposition from any candidate -- and I don’t want to mention names or point fingers -- but if those that ruled in the past did such a fantastic job we will not be in the mess that we are in today.”