By Ochereome Nnanna
SO much hot air is being wasted on the speculated “agreement” allegedly signed by President Goodluck Jonathan promising the North he would do a single term. The Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Dr Babangida Aliyu, recently resumed commotion over the issue, without showing evidence of the pact.
The Presidency is vague on the matter. Reuben Abati, presidential spokesman, says it is a distraction, while the Political Adviser to the President, Ahmed Gulak, oscillates from “I am not aware” to “I hope they will not produce a forged document”.
The impression I am getting from the presidential quarters is that even if such a pact exists, they will ignore it; GEJ will run for a second term.
Many commentators are of the view that if the President signed such a deal he should respect it. For them, it is a path of honour, and a president’s word should be his bond. Oh yeah?
Let someone answer this important question: Since when did pacts count among Nigerian power brokers? As far as I am concerned, the foundation for the current dispensation was laid, not in 1960 but as from July 1966. That was when the rapidly expiring ruling class of today swept into power following the overthrow and murder of General Thomas Aguiyi Ironsi. President Jonathan was sponsored to power by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a great pillar of that ruling establishment.
To that extent, Jonathan being a beneficiary of that establishment is running on its fuel; the last leg of its 46 year-old marathon. So, on what basis should he be expected to honour an agreement to cede power after one term? What moral platform will Northern leaders, who are instinctive pact-breakers, stand on to demand respect for pacts?
Let me recall at least two epochal pacts they broke and since then Nigeria has never been the same again.
The first one was the famous Aburi Accord, which General Yakubu Gowon signed on behalf of the North-controlled Federal Military Government while Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu signed for his breakaway Republic of Biafra in Ghana. Had they respected that pact, it would not only have prevented the outbreak of the civil war, it would also have given the nation a balanced federation and an opportunity for peaceful and stable development.
It would have corrected the imbalances left behind by the colonial masters. Every region would have grown at its own pace amidst healthy competition. We would long have stopped questioning the basis for our national unity. But respecting that pact would have ruined the North’s single-minded determination to emasculate Igbos and seize the oil resources of the Eastern Region.
The second pact also happened shortly after the Aburi Accord was violated. I want to quote copiously from an epochal cover story published in the February 24, 2013 edition of THE NEWS Magazine anchored by Demola Awoyokun, its London Correspondent. It was titled: “American Secret Papers: The Biafra Story”. Reports the magazine:
“According to a secret cable (dated 24th/08/67) sent by Dr Martin Hellenbrand, American Ambassador in East Germany, to his counterpart in Lagos, MCK Ajuluchukwu, Ojukwu’s Special Envoy met Soviet Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexandr Romanov in June 1967.
Romanov said that for the USSR to recognise Biafra and supply arms the latter had to nationalise the oil industry. Ojukwu refused, saying that he had no money to reimburse the oil companies and that Biafrans did not have the expertise to run the oil installations.
“A month later Anthony Enahoro, Federal Commissioner for Information and Labour, went to Moscow, signed a cultural agreement with Moscow and promised to nationalise the oil industry, including all its allied industries once they got arms to recapture them from the Biafrans. Within days, 15 MIG’s arrived in sections in Ikeja and Kano Airports, awaiting assemblage. There was no nationalisation”.
The Federal Government simply used the old-fashioned “419” (an option Ojukwu with conscience and character, had shunned) to obtain by false pretense, the war planes it used to turn the tide of the war in its own favour.
After the war though, the FMG used the Ajaokuta Steel Complex to compensate the Soviets; a $6 billion investment that remains bogged down under its own fraudulent and blood-soaked origins.
All the Northern leaders now pussyfooting behind the scenes waiting for Jonathan to do what they never did when the ball was in their court had benefited immensely from the betrayal of the two above-mentioned pacts when the war ended in favour of the federal coalition.
Some got juicy posts and dispensed favours like little gods. Many got oil wells. Some, power drunk, gloated to other Nigerians that the Presidency was “not for sale”. I once interviewed Dr Umaru Dikko just after the Abacha Political Conference in 1996. I teasingly asked him whether he still stood by his notion that the presidency was not for sale. He replied boastfully: “Yes! We don’t sell it!”
If Jonathan did sign a pact and now refuses to abide by it, that won’t be honourable. But he will not be the first to do it. Not only that, he will be doing it to a section of Nigeria that climbed back to power on the debris of broken pacts and reigned for over 40 years on serial abuse of the rights of other Nigerians. I will not be losing my sleep over that. Whoever wants equity must come with clean hands.
Besides, why should the President, simply because he found himself in a vulnerable position at that time, be forced to sign a pact that would favour only a section of the country – an unholy pact? I am not interested. If there is going to be such a deal it must be in the overall interest of all Nigerians.
Right now, for me, President Jonathan must put more weight on his constitutional right to re-election. If we say yes he gets it. If we say no he goes home.