By BEN AGANDE
The Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, raised the alarm on Wednesday aboutÂ an alleged plot by someÂ individuals to bring Dr Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s nameÂ to disrepute through the sponsorship of allegations against himÂ in the media.
According to Niboro, the well planned and coordinated onslaught against the actingÂ president hasÂ already found a space in the nationâ€™s media in a story which alleged that the â€œActing President induced the support of state governors by approving a release of $2 billion and another expenditure of N300 billion sourced from a businessman for some rallies and to influence members of the National Assemblyâ€ to make him acting president.
Throwing light on the alleged plot, the media aide said: â€œToday, the first installment of the planned and well-co-ordinated media onslaught against the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was published in a national newspaper alleging that he approved the expenditure of a whopping N300 billion â€˜for both pro-Yarâ€™Adua rallies and those that were in his interest.â€™
The report also claimed that members of the National Assembly were bribed to do their patriotic duty to save the Nation from drift.
â€œIt can be recalled that a few days ago, there was an allegation of a purported release of $2 billion from the Excess Crude Account to governors to facilitate their endorsement of Dr. Jonathan as Acting President. While we commend the Chairman of the Governorsâ€™ Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for dealing satisfactorily with that allegation in a rejoinder, it is interesting to note that $2 billion translates to roughly N300 billion. There is therefore no question that both allegations emanate from the same source.
â€œWe know those behind these publications. Nigerians have come to know them as careerists in power. But we see them as misguided elements determined to exceed their call of duty and play God over the affairs of the nation. They are wicked and ungodly and their time is up! Never again
must we allow our nation to be strangulated by a privileged few who will rather fiddle with our commonwealth while the nation burns.
â€œWe are aware that they have set aside a huge war chest in billions of naira to bring the Jonathan Acting Presidency to disrepute by any means possible. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that as corny as these allegations obviously sound, they still get mention in our media space. We are
fully on the tracks of this so-called group; this unfortunate band of liars. In the fullness of time, they shall be brought to book.
â€œLet me use this medium to reiterate that we shall not be deterred by campaigns of calumny or any other method whatsoever in our collective efforts to reform this nation, and change our ways of doing things once and for all. The Acting President is determined, and he is counting on the total support of all Nigeriansâ€ he said.
The questions now are: Who is after the acting president? Is it true that members of the National Assembly wereÂ induced to do what they did, especially bearing in mind the initial reluctance by members of the House of Representatives to joined their colleague in the Senate to break the logjam that President Umaru Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s continued absence had foisted on the country? Is this part of a campaign to ensure that in the event that the president is not able to continue in office, the acting president would be so maligned that he would not contemplate contesting in 2011?
It is easy to see that if indeed there are plots by some persons to discredit the actingÂ president through some attention catching but unsubstantiated allegations in the media,Â politics is the motive behind it.
Before the National Assembly invoked the Doctrine of Necessity to make Jonathan Acting president, several forces, including some elements in the Federal Executive Council, FEC had coalesced to form a formidable opposition against granting full presidential powers to the vice president.
AlthoughÂ Jonathan has demonstrated that he hasÂ no stomach for the vaulting ambition that most Nigerian politicians are known for, he was treated with contempt even by his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party. When it was obvious to every discerning individual in the country and beyond that the vacuum created by the long absence ofÂ Yarâ€™Adua without handing to his deputy was gradually crippling the country, the leadership of the PDP maintained the unsustainable argument that there was no vacuum in the country. It was as if there was something about the Jonathan person that the leadership of the party did not like.
As one source saidÂ in Abuja, â€œGoodluck Jonathan was the National Assemblyâ€™s choice and not the partyâ€™s choice when he was made acting president. In a saner society, the party leadership should have been lobbying the National Assembly to make him acting president.
â€œBut in this case, it was the other way round. In a situation like this, those who opposed his emergence in the first place would work actively to either sabotage him or make governance difficultâ€.
In the complex and sometimes fluid Nigerian political scenario, the allegations of a planned campaign against Jonathan should not come as a surprise to keen watchers of the polity. In the increasingly likely possibility that Jonathan may serve out the remaining period of Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s Presidency and perhaps contest as a candidate in the 2011 presidential election many politicians would give their arms to frustrate this as his emergence would alter the political permutation in the country and consign the ambition of some people to the trash can.
Interesting, rather than be the bulwark of his support, politicians from the south south geopolitical zone appear to be the acting presidentâ€™s Achilles heel.
But the biggest opposition to Jonathanâ€™s authority appears to be coming from some elements in the so-called kitchen cabinet of Yarâ€™Adua. According to sources, when they failed to stop the National Assembly from making, JonathanÂ acting president,Â some members of the kitchen cabinet resorted to spreading alarming information about what awaitedÂ supporters of the president in the Jonathan Presidency. Having failed to arouse a regional opposition to Goodluckâ€™s acting presidency, these persons have resorted to mobilizing some persons of the same interest against Jonathan.
In one of such information sent through the short messaging system (SMS) to some persons by a key aide of President Yarâ€™Adua, he warned that the vice president was coming after all known supporters of the president and the redeployment of the former attorney general and minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa, was the first step.
The message which was obtained by Sunday Vanguard reads:
â€˜Obj (Olusegun Obasanjo), Aliko (Aliko Dangote), Steve (Steve Orasanye, the head of service) all meeting. Obj has hijacked the government. Kayode (Tokunbo Kayode, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice) is Objâ€™s nomination. They will sack Ruma (Abba Ruma) next week. Farida (Waziri) is going. Nuhu (Ribadu) is coming back and VP (Goodluck Jonathan) is coming for us. Government is withdrawing from all lawsuits against Yarâ€™Aduaâ€. It is a message as the one
above that perhaps the acting presidentâ€™s men were referring to when they said we know where the plan is coming from.
While the veracity of the allegations raised by the vice presidentâ€™ team cannot be discountenance at this point, it is not enough reason for the acting president to resign himself to fate.
As a product of constitutional oddity, the acting president cannot afford the luxury of dashing the hope of millions of Nigerians who expect him to be the president for the period that he would act and attend to the most pressing of the countryâ€™s problems. If Nigerians notice a remarkable change in how the problems affecting them are being treated by Jonathan, they, rather than statements from his men, would dismiss the media reports from such â€˜disgruntled elementsâ€™ as false.