By Jide Ajani
The power of might! Or, the might of power! Whichever one you choose, there is an air of inescapable discernment: AUTHORITY.
Authority resides everywhere – in the home (which is the smallest unit of society), the ward, local government area, federal constituency, senatorial district, state and country. At every level, there is that symbolism of authority.
Now, before you get into a position of authority, there is a set of guaranteed rules.
The rules are meant to enthrone order in the affairs of men.
For the family, the father is the head and it is ordained – especially in the African context, which is quarantined from the seemingly collectivized power-sharing concept between husbands and wives in western civilization. To become a councilor, House of Representatives member, senator, state governor or president, there are guidelines in the constitution.
The finer details are also in the electoral guidelines.
But because of the ambivalence of men, there are even much finer aspects of the rules guided by what is generally known as ‘the gentleman’s agreement’.
This is an understanding between parties. No matter how crooked or disproportionate (in terms of who gets what), an agreement, conveniently entered into by parties, is expected to and should be binding on the parties or their representatives who have entered into such.
In Nigeria, that does not hold true.
The breach of agreements litters the political landscape like disused polyethylene.
From the gentleman’s agreement, to the electoral guidelines and the constitution, politicians breach them all with reckless abandon.
In a few instances, there have been arguments on why such agreements should be breached. But in most cases, there is no extenuating justification for the serial acts of betrayal.
Yet, we are a people who are quick to point fingers.
On December 22, 2002, President Obasanjo assembled what can be described as loyalists, a little over 40 of them, constituting the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, caucus, to agree that after the eight-year rule by the South as represented by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, the North would have its own eight years. Fate intervened and Umar Musa Yar’Adua, who’d spent just about 30months (two and a half years) in the eight years allotted the North, died. Of course, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria envisaged such and made provisions for containment.
In fact, the constitution also made provisions that once an individual meets some conditions outlined for qualification to seek the presidency, such a person should not be encumbered by any other legislation or external deals or agreements. Therefore, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was qualified to contest the presidency in 2011 – and he won. But both Jonathan and his supporters lived in denial: First, that there was no meeting where the presidency was zoned; and that Jonathan was neither part of it nor did he vote, when, in actual fact he represented then Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, at the meeting. Of course, Jonathan voted for zoning. If Jonathan and his supporters did not abide by their own resolution of December 22, 2002, why should he and his supporters on the issue of NGF expect a piece of paper containing signatures to become a substitute for an election victory of Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi?
How do you begin the argument that 16 votes are greater than 19? Or that a piece of paper on which some names and signatures are scribbled should take per-eminence over an election result? What lesson is Pa Jonah Jang, the Plateau State governor, trying to teach Nigerian youths? What lesson is President Jonathan who, for whatever logic obviously bordering on indiscretion, chose to recognize Jang as NGF chairman, attempting to teach Nigerian youths?
Does it not bother those ill-advising and dragging Mr. President along this line that it was the same logic that was presented to him in the case of the election of a speaker of the House of Representatives when it was ill-advisedly zoned to the South West with just six PDP members in the House? The result of that misadventure was that some members poured cold water on the presidency’s efforts by ignoring the party’s zoning, and electing Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who is also from the North West zone as Vice President Namadi Sambo – something unusual.
With the face-off between Jonathan and Amaechi creating needless tension in the polity, how does the former go to bed at night with ease? Madam Patience Jonathan took over Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for about a week, issuing instructions like an empress and making statements insinuating that a section of the county had been defeated before and needed to be defeated again. At the heart of the unnecessary tension in the PDP, the tango over NGF chair and the fight with real and perceived opponents of this administration is the 2015 election. Those insisting that Jonathan must contest the 2015 presidency need not dissipate energy needlessly because the constitution guarantees his right. That some people in the North are alleging that there was an agreement for Jonathan to do just one term is also akin to Jang claiming that he has some signatures and, therefore, he is NGF chairman.
Politics is not stupidity. In fact, stupid people need not get involved because it requires smartness and uncommon sagacity. Obasanjo’s open tango with his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, from September 2002 ended in 2007 with neither Obasanjo nor Atiku winning the battle – but Obasanjo lost the more because he cannot recover from the unraveling that brought daylight into his mythical posture of being super human. After eight years as President, he is no more than an irritant to Jonathan. If truth be told, the needless battles of today would only stockpile wood for tomorrow’s bonfire, the smoke of which would choke Jonathan’s aspirations and legacies.
But does it bother the presidency that President Obama keeps pooh-poohing the idea of visiting Nigeria? And that the major reason is because of Nigeria’s shambolic approach to governance and integrity? That is one of the things that should bother President Jonathan. He should seek loftier goals and equally more honourable platforms of engagement.
The events of last Wednesday’s dinner inside Aso Rock Presidential Villa involving President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi, reached an anti-climax yesterday at the Port Harcourt International Airport when wisdom and maturity prevailed. The photograph of a President and Governor in a handshake, says it all: That politics should not be a matter of hatred, acrimony and needless overheating of the polity. The question now is, how will they proceed from here?