But can President Jonathan keep claiming ignorance?
Although it is just six months to the 2015 General Elections and the smell of politics is thick in the air, officially, no political candidate can campaign for an office until 90 days to the elections, going by the Electoral Act 2010 and as monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
By campaign, the Act is referring to any activity that promotes a candidate for an office. this means that posters, jingles, adverts, rallies, and so on and so forth for a candidate towards getting an elected to an office are illegal earlier than 90 days to the elections.
Of course, this law is largely ignored judging by the millions of posters and multitude of billboards that dot almost every square inch of space it can be popped up. It seems INEC is not ready to bother itself to enforce this bit of the Electoral Law, and almost every politician has flouted this rule.
In particular, of late, there have been serious campaigns by groups for the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan, either selling him to the electorate or “exerting pressure” on him to declare his intentions to run for a second time. At the last count, there were at least 7000 of these groups.
A few days ago, this picture came out – a group of women sitting in the grass in front of a giant banner with the president’s picture and the inscription #BringBackGoodluck2015.
The banner is by one of the very many pro-Jonathan groups, called the Goodluck Initiative for Transformation or GIFT 2015.
It wouldn’t take long for anyone that has followed the news even passively since April to recognize that the hashtag is a play on the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag, which was used to raise global awareness and push the government to act on the abduction of 273 secondary school girls in Chibok, Borno State.
It is the height of insensitivity for any politician or political organization to use such a hashtag for political aims. It amounts to mockery of the campaign which gained worldwide support to hundreds of innocent and young women from the clutches of bloodthirsty and savage terrorists.
An easy defence for President Jonathan and those around him will be to deny having anything to do with this. After all, the group is campaigning for him on their own volition and not under his direction or instruction.
However, such an excuse will not cut it. It is convenient to say that the group is independent of his office when his political adviser publicly states that the 7,000 pro-Jonathan groups across the country are going to be screened, of which GIFT 2015 is one of them; and also when top officials of the Jonathan administration have been attending rallies organized by the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), another pro-Jonathan group very similar to GIFT 2015.
What GIFT 2015 has done by this campaign line it is adopting, is akin to taking the President’s name and rubbing it in the mud. It is bad enough that the President is having to battle loss of integrity from a weak response to the kidnap of the girls and the people around him politicizing a grave security situation; it is worse that a proxy campaign organization of his is adopting the slogan used to put pressure on him to act as a campaign line.
If the Presidency will find it difficult to dissociate themselves from GIFT 2015, the least they can do is pressure them to retract this line and issue an apology to the families whose daughters are still in captivity.
But definitely, President Jonathan cannot go on claiming ignorance of such an embarrassing situation and one that does him infinitely more harm than good.
PS: The President ordered the discontinuation of the campaign a few days after this was sent in.