Jonathan, Buhari may hold fence-mending meeting

All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in a warm embrace with his Peoples Democratic Party opponent, President Goodluck Jonathan, at the general elections sensitisation workshop on non-violence in Abuja... on Wednesday.The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his All Progressives Congress counterpart, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) may meet before the March 28 presidential elections.

The PUNCH gathered on Sunday that the meeting which might hold outside the country   was to establish rapport between the two contenders before the election.

A source close to the Presidency said, “We are trying to broker a meeting between the two leaders.

“The way the presidential electioneering is going may create serious divisions among Nigerians. We need to stop this.

“Apart from this, I think there is serious apprehension in the camp of the President that if Buhari wins, he’s going to jail a lot of President Jonathan’s supporters for alleged corruption.

“This is one of the issues that is causing serious tension in the camp of the President and we also need to make sure that in whatever we do, there must be peace in the country.”

It was learnt that the claim by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that   Jonathan was afraid that Buhari could jail him was real after all.

A top member of the ruling PDP, who also spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said, this fact could not be denied by the party and the Presidency.

He said, “You have listened to the press conference by our campaign office and we didn’t deny that aspect. But we dealt with other issues.

“That statement by former President Obasanjo is real. It is true and we all know that. But we know that very soon, the meeting which we are hearing is being coordinated by some concerned leaders, might address that.”

Obasanjo had on Saturday said, ‘‘I believe the President’s fear is particularly motivated by whom he sees as his likely successor, that is, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. I believe people would have been telling him that Buhari is a hard man; he will fight corruption and he (Jonathan) may end up in jail if not in the grave. I think people would have told him that sort of thing and he is not the only one afraid of Buhari.’’

Meanwhile, the PDP has called on all political parties   and other stakeholders in the electoral process to   join hands with the Independent National Electoral Commission to make the 2015 general elections a success.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, said all parties must come together in the interest of the nation and ensure that measures that create the environment for credible, free and fair elections were firmly put in place.

He said, “The responsibility of building a united, strong and prosperous nation anchored on democratic principles lies on all of us collectively.

“We therefore charge all political parties, other relevant groups and all stakeholders in the electoral process to jettison all personal/group interests and put that of our nation and its people ahead of all.

“The future of our nation is determined by what we do or say at this point in time. We must therefore resolve to work together as patriotic citizens and join hands with INEC and relevant institutions of government to ensure credible, free and fair elections devoid of rancour and disagreements.

“At this point, what should be paramount is the well-being of our people and the survival of our dear nation and its democracy.

“We must therefore close ranks as brothers and sisters and resist the machinations of enemies of our country who do not wish us well.”

Metuh called on the political parties to redirect their energy to issues that promote national development, reinforce unity among Nigerians and engender mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence.

Metuh said, “Nigeria is a great nation. We must appreciate the resilience of our people and their resolve to succeed.

“Indeed, we cannot afford to fail our citizens at this time of our national life. We must work hard to continue to ensure that the environment that contributed to the successes we have recorded is adequately maintained and enhanced”.

He also called on INEC to gird it loins and appreciate the fact that it was “saddled with an enormous responsibility and that “Nigerians expect nothing less than a transparent electoral process”.

Metuh said the commission should understand that “observations by stakeholders are not intended to castigate, weaken or destroy the electoral process but to assist in deepening democracy so that at the end of the day, Nigerians will be the ultimate winners”.

Also on Sunday, the National Auditor of the PDP, Adewole Adeyanju, advised INEC to allow eligible voters to use their Temporary Voter Cards   during the   elections.

Adeyanju advised INEC to commence the use of the Permanent Voter ‘ Cards during the   bye elections that might arise from the March 28 and April 11 polls to test its card readers.

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