President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday described the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, as his political benefactor.
The President also called on the political class in the state to put aside their grievances in the collective interest of the state.
Alamieyeseigha was detained in London on charges of money laundering in September 2005. He escaped from the UK in December 2005. He pleaded guilty before a Nigerian court to six charges in July, 2007, and was sentenced to two years in prison on each charge.
Jonathan spoke at the Government House Castle, Yenagoa, while addressing leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party at a state caucus meeting convened by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.
Though the relevance of the meeting to the 2015 ambition of Jonathan was not clear, a statement by Dickson’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, described it as “an expanded caucus meeting of members of the party”.
The statement read, “President Jonathan who stressed that politics ought to be seen as tools for the development of the people and service to fatherland, said up until now, he could not fathom what went wrong during the last expanded caucus meeting of the PDP in the state.
“Describing Chief Alamieyeseigha as his benefactor in politics, the President called on the political class to learn to be supportive of one another and put aside their grievances in the collective interest of the state, rather than creating undue tension in the polity.”
Our correspondent gathered that part of the meeting, which was held behind closed doors, was part of moves by the governor to mobilise support for Jonathan and unite members of the party.
The statement, which was made available to our correspondent shortly after the meeting, said members of the party resolved unanimously that Jonathan should be the leader of the party in the state.
Before now, Dickson was regarded as the leader of the party in the state by virtue of his position as the governor.
The statement said Dickson moved the motion that Jonathan be made leader of the party in the state.
The motion was said to have been seconded by Alamieyeseigha and later adopted by about 28 members of the party’s caucus after a voice vote initiated by the Senator representing the state’s Central Senatorial District, Mr. Emmanuel Paulker.
The statement was, however, silent on members of the party, especially federal lawmakers, that attended the meeting.
Jonathan, who insisted that his former boss brought him into political limelight, thanked Dickson for convening the meeting and promised to attend subsequent meetings.
Jonathan described politics as a tool for the development of the state.
The President denied influencing the selection of candidates for the forthcoming local government elections.
“I don’t want to be in Abuja and be seen as influencing political contestants; I will not condescend to get myself in the selection of candidates, am not interested because it won’t be fair since leadership is all about hierarchy,” he said.