By Bisi Lawrence
It is very clear that President Goodluck Jonathan is determined and almost desperate to seek another term of office. His refusal to put it in so many words can be described as his stock in trade. He did precisely that, the last time around, before ferociously pursuing his ambition. Not many people were fooled then. Hardly anyone is fooled now.
He obviously believes that there is some credit in such gimmicks or else he would have desisted from such moonlight escapades. It really tends to remove from his sincerity, as a matter of fact. He seems to keep what is an open fact as a secret from people he should trust because he does not trust them, whereas he should actually invite their trust by putting them in confidence about his aspirations.
But nothing is concealed about this matter.
While talking softly, he keeps wielding a big stick. No one is deceived about the source of the political issues in Rivers State, for instance, and their purpose. It all began with the suggestion that the State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, could seek to seek the Vice-Presidency slot in the 2015 election with a Northern State Governor. That would run counter to the chances of President Jonathan since they are all in the same party.
It was important therefore to diminish Amaechi’s profile within the party. But rather than lose credit, the Rivers State governor broke through well-prepared schemes to shred the mantle of his influence when he retained his position as the Chairman of the National Governor’s forum, an organization which was growing to be a thorn in the flesh of the Goodluck administration already. President Goodluck refused to recognize the legitimate executive of the body, not “giving a damn” about what people would think about his patent wrong-doing. That was desperate.
But Amaechi stood firm. Now let us go impersonal. The Presidency —not the President, mark you —would be hard put to deny any connection with the rumpus that neutralized the normal law-making process of the Rivers State House of Assembly. It is merely coincidental then that Amaechi’s state was thrown into that unfortunate whirlpool of legislative chaos which the police, as the State’s direct agency of security, seemed incapable to handle. The Inspector-General of Police, who must pander to the wishes of the “Oga at the Top” was hard of hearing when pleas were raised for the transfer of the Commissioner who would do nothing as the Governor’s direct route to his residence was barred – by the police.
Still Amaechi stood firm whilst the whip of discipline was turned on his kindred spirit who had refused to be coerced, until no less than seven of them chose to go their own way — but that in a bizarre manner. The party, the Peoples Democratic Party, as we prophesied right from the outset would never be the same again. The keynote of the protest was formerly that the PDP Chairman should be removed, but it has since distended to the President not seeking another term of office.
It was clear that a “roforofo fight” was in the offing. In the midst of the imbroglio, several cabinet members have been removed without replacement for weeks. Their common fault was their connection, or seeming connection, with the errant State Governors, or insufficient demonstration of cloying loyalty to “The Chief.
All this development is taking place against the backdrop of a government that is tardy about paying its bills, despite a loud noise about the buoyancy of its economy, a claim further unsupported by myriads of industrial action, and rumours of industrial action, across the nation. But the focus of President Jonathan is not distorted in any way. His action hounds are not in anyway silenced.
They turned the hallowed interior of the presidency into a fort from which they fired salvos of vilifications unknown in our experience of governance at political opponents – who, of course, replied in kind. But undeterred, they then doggedly came up with the ploy of distraction which had served them in good stead in testy situations. They threw a hollow bone of “”National Conference/Dialogue” into the field which, unfortunately, seemed to have captivated the unwary.
The good news today is that several of those who hailed the proposal initially, have now seen the light. The bad news is that the awakening will change nothing. The Presidency will still forge ahead, wasting human and material resources without “giving a damn”.
But all this is bound to tell on the welfare of this country — which one hesitates to calla nation, these days. A lot of bitterness and discontent stalks the streets today. The barons of mega-robbery and corruption flaunt their ill-gotten wealth in the face of throbbing want in the land. The institutions that should stand between helpless frustration and the people, in the shape of good governance and assured security, are crumbling. A massive build-up of a possibly devastating magnitude is daily emerging in the contending forces within our body politic and ethnic affiliations, and the powers-that-be do not seem to “give a damn”, as long as the “2015 “craft” is on course. Some action must be taken before the darkness falls.
The contending forces are easily identified. There are the usual ranks of the establishment and their supporters who are in government and would do almost anything to retain the structures that be. That is from where they obtain their sustenance, and that is where their loyalty naturally is. On the other side are those who wish to displace those who are in the saddle. They highlight the faults of those who are in power and proffer what they claim to be better programmes.
The two groups normally range themselves into different camps with different identifications but with an identical desire – to win the populace over and take over the power to rule. In ideal circumstances, the two groups provide a balance and offer a choice of alternatives. The abnormal sets in, however, when one of the groups breaks up and begins to contend with the original group. Then things really get messy.
That is the situation in the country today. It seems to be of advantage to the other group, or groups, which are looked upon as the opposition, but it is not as clear as that. The splinter group, which cannot really claim to possess the numerical strength, which is critical in what is widely acknowledged to be a “game of numbers”, i.e. politics, still desires to be the superior group without a clear change of identity. It goes ahead bearing the name of the former party, while attempting to set up a rival secretariat in defiance of the rule of law. That is what one sees as bizarre, especially since there is no law barring the acquisition of a proper new identity either by itself or in a merger with another organization.
We are speaking of course about the PDF and its splinter group, the nPDP, as it chooses to call itself, The stands of both groups are irreconcilable centering, as they do, on President Jonathan’s returning to power in 2015. The nPDP and the opposition parties led by the All Progressive Congress are, of course, at one on that issue. However, their reasons are different.
The nPDP, composed mainly of Northern elements, believe that Jonathan is spending his second term and the North should therefore be free to now step in to complete the second term of which the death of Alhaji Yar’Adua robbed them. About this they are adamant. The main PDP is for President Jonathan continuing in office into 2015, if he is elected, because they insist that he is in his first full term of office. The law seems to favour this view and so also do most of the people in the South-south area from where he hails.
In the North, we have the menace of the Boko Haram which is apparently not near being subdued. A return of power to the North might dowse the flaring terror of the so-called Islamic insurgents. On the other hand, the raw wealth of the nation, in the form of petroleum products, is patently in the hands of the denizens of the creeks in the Niger Delta, and they are currently demonstrating how vicious they can be if they are out to create havoc to our oil industry.
Neither choice is palatable. It rests on the result of the 2015 election as well as how we get there. If the nPDP would stop its indecision as to where he it is and where it is going, it might saee a way in toppling Jonathan by teaming up with the APC, In that case, one of the concessions that would have to be made by the APC is to run a Northern candidate for the presidency. They do not have a hang-up about the ethnic origin of their presidential candidate at this time, but may wish to present their own man. It could work, but then the menace of the creeks would not only continue, but would be intensified.
An unlikely scenario would raise President Jonathan to the highest pinnacle statesmanship by pitching him to stand down voluntarily to avoid a possible disintegration of the country. He would have to explain, on his own, to his followers that the action was taken to preserve the integrity of the nation, but it would have to be backed by a firm undertaking that he could return for his second term immediately after 2015, at least to appease his people and put Nigeria back on an even keel. He could do it if he gave “a damn”.
What does it feel like to be eighty? It was my wife who first asked me that question three days ago. I confessed I hadn’t really thought about it. Then I gave a rambling answer, trying to be wise and impress her. I can’t even remember what I said. But then, at least three other people later asked me the same question during the day. By then I had got an answer.
“Humble”, I replied each of them. “Grateful to God that He kept me alive till today, undeserving as I totally am.” At least, that is being truthful.
There is really no way to describe the feeling because you are almost numb with amazement, especially if you can still stand on your feet.
And when the presents and cards and cakes begin to arrive with delegations from The Redeemed Christian Church of God (New Covenant Parish) and pals from the Vanguard with whom you had worked for years, and the telephone calls and text messages from Saudi Arabia, and the UK, and the USA, from old friends and children and grandchildren, … a great granddaughter even sang “Happy Birthday To You,,….
How does it feel to be eighty? It’s too much!