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Food for thought

By Donu Kogbara
Uche Igwe is a doctoral researcher at Sussex University in the UK. He is attached to the university’s Centre For The Study Of Corruption and has just sent me an article that he recently wrote, partly as a response to the Presidency’s claim that widespread speculations about Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 plans are not only riddled with falsehoods but are unnecessary distractions.

Igwe’s article is titled “2015 and Jonathan’s Ostrich Game” and its contents were so thought-provoking that I’m reproducing some excerpts on this page.

“…When exposed to danger, the ostrich usually escapes by burying its head under the sand while exposing its huge body….[and] those who play the ostrich game refuse to face painful facts and unpleasant truths…

“…As a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is the constitutional right of the President to vie for another term in office…But what many people are worried about are the tactics that he is deploying…

“…One of these deplorable tactics can be seen in his interference in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF. In the absence of a viable opposition and constructive dissent, the NGF is seen by many observers to have provided Nigerians with an alternative platform to debate national issues…

“…Instead of stampeding the governors [and trying to] “select” a leader on their behalf, Jonathan and his strategists should seek an NGF that is more open to the views and aspirations of the Nigerian people. He needs an objective channel to feel the pulse of the people….[and should not] intrude into the right of free association of the governors… 

“…One other blunder comes from the alleged interference of the Presidency in the affairs of the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party. Since the controversial ruling that ousted the executive members of the state chapter…fingers have been pointing at the Presidency. Although some of these remain at the level of speculations, such ‘rumours’ are very unhealthy for a President who is posturing that he is not yet thinking about 2015…

“…The hasty inauguration of the new executive by the national secretariat makes many observers tilt to the suspicion that it was in obedience to the orders from the ‘Oga at the top’…to whittle down the state governor’s influence at home. One will think that President Jonathan currently should enjoy some goodwill in Rivers State. Such goodwill could diminish if he (or his proxy) is seen to be meddling unnecessarily in avoidable political battles…

“… Can the Presidency sustain the current onslaught of harassing and hounding any person with contrary views until all Nigerians are instilled with fear? How long will Nigeria survive under the current democratic authoritarianism?…

“…Someone should tell the President that…he may be the one distracting himself by chasing shadows….[and] that what Nigerians want to see are new jobs created, security improvements, stable power supply, infrastructural expansion and enhancement of their livelihoods…not just promises…”.

Vanguard readers’ reactions to these comments will be much-appreciated. Please kindly tell me whether you agree or disagree with some or all of Igwe’s remarks.

My take on the Rivers State drama

A lot of people have contacted me to express surprise or disapproval about the fact that I have not made any comments about this burning issue in this column.

“You are a known supporter of Governor Amaechi and have never come across as someone who is afraid of speaking her mind, so why aren’t you defending Amaechi in his hour of need?” asked one puzzled Anambrarian gentleman, who e-mailed me last weekend to say that he is extremely concerned about the  much-publicised tensions between my Governor, Mr President and some disgruntled Rivers indigenes, including the Minister of State for Education.

Queries about my apparent cowardice and fence-sitting have been echoed by so many other onlookers that I feel obliged to explain my uncharacteristic silence.

The truth is that I am in a very difficult position because I am close to Amaechi AND some of his opponents.  And I feel like a pig in the middle.

I keep hoping that I will wake up and discover that the terrible bitterness that has turned various senior Niger Deltan brothers and sisters into implacable enemies – and is making our region look embarrassingly divided and politically immature – was just a bad dream. And that everything is, in fact, hunky dory.

But I must say that I honestly believe that even though Amaechi isn’t perfect, he is much nicer and much more capable than most of those guys in the Villa and has been treated very shoddily for no good reason. And I will expand on this theme at a later date if no reconciliation materialises in the near future.


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