By Kunle Oyatomi

As at the last count, the new cabinet list from the presidency has reached 38, and perhaps still counting. Names are moving back and forth and causing ripples all over the place. Well, that is to be expected especially in a party like the PDP where influence peddling is the norm for sharing political jobs.

However, the Acting President is in a dilemma as to how he manages the conflict of interest within the party against the very “loud” expectations of civil society groups as well as opposition politician who expect Goodluck Jonathan to at least address the concerns of the nation, (which incidentally do not necessarily co-incide with ruling party’s core demands). And these demands are variagated as well as problematic in relation to the circumstances of Jonathan’s climb to power.

Many state governors, who were not at cease with Jonathan’s Acting Presidency in the first instance are having a lot to worry about the implication of having ministers from their states whose loyalty is not to themselves. That could be problematic, as is the cases in Ogun, Imo, Kaduna and others, for the process of political control in the various states. That is the reason for all the dust thrown up by this ministerial list.

However, these politicians should recognize that Jonathan  himself has an interest to protect also. How he manoeuvres through this maze of conflicting and confusing interests is a problem of national interest. Already there are signs that in an attempt to please the “key players” within his party and then place himself in a vantage position, consequences are cropping for all of us. What is emerging thus far is not looking the best for the country to move forward.

The general consensus had been for a lean cabinet, but already it is looking bloated enough to resemble the old one. Whether that can help Jonathan to take charge effectively is debatable. What is not in dispute however is that the powerful and mighty in the PDP have their fingers too deep in the pie to guarantee the Acting President the kind of freedom he needs to take effect charge of affairs of state the way majority of Nigerians would have wanted at this critical time in our history.

What’s about this “mega” stuff?
Another election year is round the corner and the familiar noises about opposition politicians coming together to unseat the ruling party is making the rounds again.

In Nigeria’s political evolution this question has always bugged us; how the so-called progressive politicians would unite to remove from power the conservative politicians who have been in charge since 1960?

All attempts since 1959 to bring the progressives together have failed. The attempt to force them together in the SDP also failed. Now a new attempt to unite them through the “Mega Summit” is at best problematic. Those for the union are saying opposition parties should subsume their individual identities for a Mega Party. But that idea is not flying with those who think they have a lot to lose in such arrangement because they have worked hard in the last decade to create the image of a credible opposition party that is firmly on the ground.

Incidentally, both sides have a good case, especially the Action Congress which mercurial leadership has held fort for the opposition since the PDP took over the Nigerian political space like a colossus.

The AC’s leadership (ably steered by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu) is not buying into the “Mega Idea,” because the premise for working together will make them lose their identity and as well shortchange them of the efforts they have made thus far as the only credible opposition voice in the country with significant national support base.

That’s a price too heavy to pay on the alter of Mega Party. Instead, co-operation will do for now, and at the turn of events after 2011 elections, a better picture will emerge as to how the opposition parties would co-operate. How can you fault the AC on this  position?

The return of OBJ

For many, this could be un-welcome news; but truth is that the controversial former president is standing on his feet again after the bruising aftermath of the “Third Term” fiasco. Acting President Jonathan’s men at Aso Rock will not put it that way, to be sure; but that a number of his key operations are back in Abuja would suggest at least that OBJ is not licking his wounds anymore.

Politics is a funny game, one must admit, but it doesn’t get as funny when OBJ’s and Danjuma’s interests co-incide in a Jonathan’s presidency. It is an unusual political chemistry that is unlikely to react harmoniously. How AP Goodluck Jonathan intends to blend the mix is difficult to configure, but it is getting a lot of people nervous already. The challenges are becoming stiffer for the Acting President. We can only hope, and support him with prayers, that he gets out of this unblemished.

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