By Donu Kogbara
WATCHING the PDP fall apart is like watching a car crash in slow motion. At the time of writing, 26 senators and 57 House of Representatives members have decided to defect to the “New PDP” splinter group that was formed last weekend and is headed by Alhajis Atiku Abubakar and Abubakar Kawu Baraje.
Rotimi Amaechi, the Governor of Rivers State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, was – alongside six Northern colleagues – one of the founders of this “New PDP” that is making the “Old PDP” look like a sinking ship.
As a Niger Deltan advocate who enthusiastically campaigned for Dr Goodluck Jonathan and literally knelt down by my bed, night after night in the months following his acquisition of the top job, to beg God to make my Big Brother’s Presidency a resounding success, I am very sad and angry about the status quo.
The aspect of the escalating PDP crisis that upsets me most is the fact that it would never have happened if Mr. President, his subordinates and their closest cronies had paid more attention to relationship management issues.
When it became obvious, earlier on this year, that Amaechi and Mr. President were at loggerheads, Chief Edwin Clark, the most prominent Elder in the South-South, furiously confronted me about my pro-Amaechi stance.
I love Chief dearly and would rather not offend him, not least because he was one of the few VIPs from our geopolitical zone who staunchly backed me up when I resigned from a Committee that was chaired by Dr. Rilwanu Lukman (who was then Petroleum Minister), because I felt that Lukman was not sufficiently concerned about the welfare of my brethren from oil-producing areas.
My preference is for me and Clark to be on the same side in every argument. But I could not, unfortunately, agree with Clark on the Amaechi issue.
I don’t agree with everything Amaechi says or does, but my own personal experiences with Jonathan’s crowd have led me to believe that they are not interested in keeping or making friends…and don’t have a clue how to conduct themselves like the competent, credible, charismatic politicians they should be.
When Jonathan became Head of State in 2010, I was living in Abuja. And all I wanted from the people around him was access to a few media-related events.
Since I regarded many of them as pals and had been one of the journalists who had provided them with moral support during their sometimes traumatic ascent to the dizzying pinnacle of Nigerian public life, I assumed that they would gladly treat me like a respected professional from time to time. But they didn’t.
I didn’t assume that they owed me any major favours. I hardly ever called them and never pestered them for money or positions. I just quietly contacted them very occasionally to ask for small benefits like invitations to press conferences.
But they went out of their way to humiliate and exclude me, so nobody should blame me if I sympathise with Amaechi…whom they have also treated shabbily!Largely thanks to Amaechi’s dogged electioneering efforts in 2011, President Jonathan and the PDP did fantastically well in Rivers State.
This huge contribution did not stop the party leadership from trying (because of a few disagreements and misunderstandings that could have been resolved) to deprive Amaechi of the NGF role…or from suspending him from the party.
They put him in a situation whereby he had nothing to lose. They shoved his back against the wall and gave him good reasons to rebel and disgrace them.
I’m convinced that most of the problems that Jonathan is now having with Amaechi – and the many other opponents who are giving him serious headaches at the moment – boil down to an arrogant, crude, myopic, lazy, inept failure to form and nurture relationships with useful or potentially useful individuals.
It is actually pretty easy to stay on amicable terms with folks who have displayed loyalty towards you in the past…or to form new alliances with folks who are neutral/undecided or not pathologically hostile.
But Jonathan, tragically, is surrounded by bad-mannered characters who are more focussed on their interests than his…and have tarnished his image and undermined him on so many levels – by choosing to be insular and offensive.
There are always exceptions to every rule, so let me say now that some of Jonathan’s selectees are pleasant, intelligent, etc. But there simply aren’t enough positive elements on Mr President’s team, so it’s no wonder that he’s attracting multiple assaults on his dignity and struggling to survive politically.
Having said this, the buck ultimately stops on the Boss’s desk and Mr. President should take responsibility for the disasters that are befalling him and the PDP.
An Oga who cannot inspire and control his troops should ask himself where he is going wrong…instead of foisting the blame for his woes on external factors.