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President GEJ Kicks-Off Campaign For 2015 Election

President Goodluck Jonathan might have kicked off the campaign for his 2015 reelection bid despite his insistence that he has not declared
his ambition.

Indications to this effect emerged on Saturday at the South-West sensitisation rally organised by the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos.

Although the President who attended the rally said it was not a political campaign, he used the
platform to make a strong case for his reelection come 2015, even as he stressed the achievements of his administration.

President Jonathan attended the rally with members of his cabinet, PDP governors and national leaders of the party, who repeatedly called on the audience to vote for the President in 2015.

While Jonathan was cheered on by the crowd, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, the PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu'azu and other top members of the party told the crowd the President deserved a second term.

In his speech, the President who was adopted as PDP's 2015 presidential candidate, thanked the
leadership of the party for choosing him as its candidate.

Adding that he had the right to refuse the offer, Jonathan said the decision to endorse him for the 2015 presidency was made by the party and that no member of the PDP could dictate who became what in the party.

He said, "I also have the right of refusal and I thank the party for giving me the opportunity. The idea of the rally is for us to come together; for us to see our faces and for us to dance and clap together, so that we will know that we all
belong to one political party; the largest political party in Africa."

At the Lagos rally, President Jonathan reeled out his achievements. He said he had established a Presidential Jobs Board and that the board would create three million jobs in the next one year. That means in a few years, we would solve the problem of unemployment."

The President also scored his government high on the provision of infrastructure, as well as construction and rehabilitation of roads and railways.

He said his government had created
opportunities for Nigerians to participate in the oil sector more than ever before.

He also thanked the leaders of the PDP in the South-West for winning Ekiti State governorship election, saying the party was working hard to win in all states in the zone.

He said, "I thank Ekiti people for returning the state to the PDP. There is no single PDP state in the South-West, yet you remained committed.

We thank you for that position and surely you will be rewarded. We are here to bring our members together but we will surely return for campaign. When you are in Lagos, you are addressing the whole country because all Nigerians are represented here.

"We continue to promise to transform Nigeria; make changes and never go back. We need all
Nigerians to work with us. In the next few years, unemployment will continue to drop. We are totally committed to changing all sectors of the Nigerian economy."

Speaking at the event, Mu'azu said all members of the party were committed to Jonathan's second term bid and that it was a reward for the President's "achievements in the first term."

He said, "We choose Lagos for this rally because it is the most populated and hosts most of the
economic activities in the country. It is to reflect our unity in the South West and as a result of the unity, we have started recovering our states
in the South-West. And in 2015, we will win more states.

"Everybody knows that the PDP controls the majority of the people in the South-West. Therefore, we are saying in 2015, we will take over more states in the South-West.

"Mr. President, we want to assure you that because your first term has been sobtransforming, by the grace of God, people of South-West and the people of Nigeria will reward
you in 2015 by re-electing you as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

"All leaders and members of the party are committed to your coming back as President and we pray that Almighty God will favour us." Also speaking, the Chairman, PDP-GF and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, stated that the ruling party was set to take over
the South-West from the opposition.

He said, "We have started winning the South-West and, by the grace of God, Lagos will soon fall and become a PDP state."

In the same vein, Vice-President Sambo, said the South-West, and Lagos State in particular, had
benefitted a lot from the present administration in terms of infrastructural development.

He urged the people of the zone to support Jonathan in 2015 as they supported him in 2011. The opposition All Progressives Congress however expressed its disapproval of the event.

The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, said, "Whatever name that rally was held under, one thing is clear; it is a campaign. It is a violation of our electoral rules.

"And when you see a President becoming the chief law-breaker in a country, you cannot start talking about the rule of law in that country.
"It is unfortunate that the INEC has not got the courage to check this illegality. With what has happened, I don't see how we can then sanction
any other party that does a similar thing.

"It is a pity because this President has no respect for any laws. And his desire for re-election has blinded him to all other things. It is
unfortunate." But the Independent National Electoral Commission on Saturday said all parties were flouting the electoral laws by engaging in such activities outside of the stipulated timeline for
campaigns by law.

The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu, said this in response to SUNDAY PUNCH enquiry on INEC's view on the Lagos
rally. "The rules on electoral campaigns are there; all parties are flouting those rules, without
exception. All parties across the divide are flouting those rules. Why they are flouting the rules is that there are gaps in the law.

"The guidelines we are preparing are intended to bridge (this). The law states that the period for a political party to campaign is 90 days before
elections. You can begin to debate: What is the difference between a political party and another entity that isn't? What is the implication?
"Another thing is that the law does not talk about candidates. So, you can begin to debate: Who is a political candidate? What about if it is the candidate? There are many gaps that can be exploited and the political parties have been
exploiting those gaps," he said.

Idowu said the guideline, which INEC was preparing, would be tabled at the quarterly meeting held by the commission and all political
parties this month. He added that they would be expected to make final moves towards the validation of electoral guidelines.

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