The campaign team of the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan has decided to put off his state campaign for two days, in honour of those who died during the South-South Zone campaign in Port Harcourt on Saturday.
At the sports stadium in Port Harcourt, venue of the rally, about 16 people reportedly died and many wounded from a stampede when a police officer fired sporadically into the air to disperse the crowd.
The presidential spokesman, Ima Niboro yesterday stated that the postponement of the second phase of the campaign, which was to start in Borno and Yobe today, “is to honour the victims of Saturday’s tragic stampede during the campaign in Port Harcourt.” In honouring the dead, Mr Jonathan had, on Saturday after the tragedy, also postponed the inauguration of the new Goodluck/Sambo campaign council which was billed to take place on the same day.
The Senate President, David Mark yesterday sympathised with Mr. Jonathan, the government and people of Rivers state as well as the affected families.
He also reiterated the need for free, fair and credible polls in April stating that this will immortalise those who died during the rally.
“We are resolutely committed to free, fair and acceptable elections in April. We must not deviate from this path. That is the only way we can immortalise the death of our party members, so that their death will not be in vain” he said.
The Senate President expressed appreciation for the overwhelming support from the length and breath of Nigeria for the ruling party during its rallies, but however called for decorum and discipline especially in rallies in order to avoid a recurrence of the Port Harcourt saga. He urged the governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Ameachi to set machinery in motion with a view to identifying the victims in order to compensate the bereaved families.
A copy of the PDP timetable for the state campaign shows that Mr. Jonathan will start with the core Northern states, which include Yobe, Borno, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau and Benue in the first week. In the second week, he is expected to visit Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi and Anambra. In the third he is expected to visit Ogun, Lagos,Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, followed by Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Bayelsa, Sokoto and ends with Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano and Jigawa in the last week.
At this stage the President will visit all states except the ones visited during the zonal campaigns. The schedule reveals that the PDP presidential campaigns will round off on March 26.