WHEN recently, the publisher and chairman of the Leadership newspapers, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, announced that he was stepping down as Editor-in-Chief of the organisation, I did not need anybody to explain to me the reason he did that.
He, however, quickly made it known that he would continue to write his Monday back page column, “Last Word”, in the newspaper. With that, he confirmed my hunch.
I knew he was simply positioning himself for the mouthpiece role he would play for the opposition party in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election. In his thinking, stepping down as Editor-in-Chief should erect a wall between him and the editorial arm as well as content of the newspaper. But he should have known that some of us cannot be deceived by such publicised gambit.
He who pays the piper dictates the tune. There is indeed no difference between then when he occupied the dual offices of Chairman and Editor-in-Chief and now that he remains only Chairman. The reality of the intention of that move has begun to unravel faster than I had expected: It is simply that Nda-Isaiah has returned to his perennial role of a spokesperson for the opposition party.
He was wont to play that role for his benefactor, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, who is incurably ambitious that he would one day become a democratically-elected president of this nation. In 2003, when Buhari challenged the then President and candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olusegun Obasanjo in that year’s presidential election, Nda-Isaiah took charge of the media and publicity machinery of the Buhari Campaign Office.
He, along with other foot soldiers of the General, had expected that a Buhari candidature could upstage the applecart of Obasanjo’s presidency. Unfortunately for them, his benefactor was trounced in that election. In 2007, Buhari also ran against Umaru Yar’Adua who was the candidate of the PDP. He lost his deposit. In 2011, he joined the fray on the platform of his Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and was defeated by incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Through this Buhari odyssey for the nation’s topmost job, Nda-Isaiah was clearly sympathetic to his cause. In the last two presidential contests, he did not unreasonably immerse himself in the turbulent waters, knowing full well that Buhari would not go far. I do not begrudge him for lending his expertise to bolstering his benefactor’s campaign in the media any time he decides to do so, as it is his constitutional right to work to eke a living and try to position himself to reap bountiful democracy dividends that Buhari presidency would have made possible for him.
But what I detest is his current attempt to hoodwink the Nigerian public into believing that he (Nda-Isaiah) is offering patriotic service through his comments in his Monday’s back page column of Leadership newspaper with particular reference to the one published on Monday, April 29, 2013, titled: “Quitting Is Leadership Too”, wherein he threw decorum to the winds, descended into the gutters of fantasy and tried to drag President Jonathan and the high office into the sludge.
From the opening paragraph of the mumbo-jumbo to the conclusion, Nda-Isaiah embarked on hate campaign against the President. His grouse is simply his claim of Jonathan’s “desperation” to seek re-election in 2015. I shuddered at Nda-Isaiah’s use of “desperation” because that actually describes the disposition of the opposition camp whose image he has now begun to launder ahead the 2015 presidential election.
Jonathan is today, by the grace of God and the overwhelming support of the Nigerian people who voted for him in the 2011 presidential election, President of Nigeria; and, to that extent, cannot be desperate to be president in 2015. He is already president and if there is any strategic move he intends to make with respect to 2015 contest, it is, I think, simply to approach his party and the Nigerian people to revalidate the mandate which he presently custodies.
I do not, and I believe it holds true for so many other Nigerians, need Nda-Isaiah to tell me sarcastically that he wants Jonathan to seek re-election in 2015 in his erroneous belief that he (Jonathan) would be defeated on the ground of alleged “scandalous performance”. That spurious claim has only confirmed his new role as a hired hand to prosecute the hatchet job of the opposition camp in the media.
There is no amount of efforts dissipated by Nda-Isaiah and his ilk in the media that would succeed in re-inventing the wheel of the great achievements that the Jonathan administration has recorded in about two years in office, especially in the areas of road infrastructure development and reforms in the power as well as oil and gas sectors in addition to the generally positive outlook of the economy.
On the platform of performance, Nda-Isaiah would be shocked that well-meaning Nigerians who have seen through his shenanigans and the antics of his original benefactor and new pseudo-benefactors in the South West zone of the country would cast their votes for Jonathan to continue his good work.
It is not in Nda-Isaiah’s place to build a mountain out of molehill by thinking up, in the comfort of his study, the bogus proposition that Jonathan is planning to rig the 2015 presidential election. This is clearly repeating the usual refrain or catchphrase of the opposition politicians, who go into elections with such explicably defeatist attitude. How can the opposition parties unseat the ruling party when they had not and will never provide a credible alternative that is better than the party in government?
In his bid to smear Jonathan, Nda-Isaiah accused the President of “trying hard to divide Nigerians along several lines…”. He also talked about ruling government’s “wishful thinking” that the APC alliance would collapse before 2015, saying that “this only shows that the President himself has run out of intelligence ideas…”. First, if anything or any person(s) has (have) divided Nigeria, it is the clandestine move by some Northern leaders whom Nda-Isaiah venerates to make good their threat of making Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan.
Second, this resort to tragic self-help in the desperate bid to regain presidential power is most unfortunate.
Despite the distraction of government and governance occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency, which was the original plan of a part of the country to which Nda-Isaiah belongs, the Federal Government under President Jonathan has been able to fix its eyes on the ball of unity and rapid infrastructure development.
Regardless of the orchestrated reigns of terror in the country, Jonathan has even bent backwards to consider the possibilities of granting amnesty to a group of people who, in fact, should pay reparation to the Federal Government and the Nigerian people for the thousands of lives taken in cold blood and public utilities destroyed in the orgies of suicide bombings.
Their strategy is clear: to intimidate Jonathan from seeking his constitutional second term in office. Through Nda-Isaiah’s treatise, they have opened the flank of blackmail as presented in his allusions to presidents in other clime who chose to leave office when they could have continued. I could not help but laugh when Nda-Isaiah, in a hopeless bid to firm up his argument and leave Jonathan with no other choice other than to leave in 2015, had suggested that ‘even if the president had performed very well…it would still have been in his own interest not to seek re-election, considering the circumstance of his emergence as president.
It is sad that Nda-Isaiah would lend his voice through his pen to this warped logic. Indeed, the opposition camp he speaks for would have been excited if Jonathan were out of the way in the race for presidential power in 2015. That shows how desperate they are to take over the reins of government; and I wonder what difference they can make to governance at the centre with the cliquish and cabalistic manner they run the states where they are in government.
As far as I am concerned, Nda-Isaiah has only succeeded in demonstrating how myopic, politically incoherent and pathologically frustrated he is that his benefactor, Buhari, cannot and will not get anywhere near the presidency of this nation on account of his ugly past as military Head of State when he (Buhari), in a passion of recklessness, clamped in detention for months politicians, many of who boasted and still boast of robust political pedigrees and structures that are still very influential today in national politics and politicking.
In conclusion, to respond to the issue of quitting being an act of leadership in the title of his column, I will like to simply state that Jonathan will quit when he has exhausted his constitutional two terms in office. Chikena!
Mr. JOHNSON MOMODU, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.