It is quite interesting the extent the opposition elements in and outside the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have decided to go to feed the Nigerian people with a salad of lies about the phantom one-term pact that President Goodluck Jonathan purportedly entered into with governors in the build-up to the party’s presidential primaries ahead of the 2011 general elections.
Governor of Niger State, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, who is one of the rebel governors working in cahoots to oust the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and frustrate the re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan, was the first to claim that there was an agreement signed by Jonathan with governors on the party platform that he would serve for only one term as president.
He made so much fuss about it such that he cut an image of a rabble-rouser. Many people had expected Aliyu and his co-travellers in the voyage of upstaging Jonathan’s applecart to deal the fatal blow on the integrity of the President by publishing the purported document that he signed to commit to a single term. Had these governors done so, they would have successfully exposed the underbelly of Jonathan’s presidency.
It would have become a moral burden of sort, which the President would by now be struggling to deal with. But as it has now turned out, there was no such agreement documented anywhere, which bears the signature or imprimatur of the President; the governors have been making confrontational statements full of sounds and fury, but signifying nothing. I had personally expected that they would resort to the document as a joker but now, it is clear that they have lost the momentum; they have been making much ado for nothing.
If they have any such agreement, I challenge them (as the President has now done) to publish and/or publicise it. The wind has been taken off the sail of their grandstanding; and, in a bid to hoodwink the Nigerian people that there was actually a documented agreement, they decided to deploy the platform of one of their newspapers to raise the false alarm that a South-South governor is hiding Jonathan’s one-term pact document. It was a poorly done job as the story was not only self-contradictory, but also not difficult to see through as carefully made up to remove the onus of declassifying their phantom agreement far away from them.
Now consider the self-contradiction in the story published in The Nation of Monday, September 23, 2013 at paragraph seven, to wit: “Neither those for Jonathan nor those against him have the one term agreement paper…”. I am not aware that there is any governor who is neutral in the on-going crisis rocking the PDP. Yet, the story went on further thus: “It was learnt that when the agreement was signed, most of the governors were not eager to have a copy. But this paper was allegedly given to a South-South governor to keep as a reminder to Jonathan that his zone was in custody of the pact.
“It was gathered that since the row over another term broke out, the governor has refused to release the paper. The governor denies being in custody of the paper. The said governor is fully behind the second term project with confidence since the pact is in his care.”
The story further quoted a top source thus: “No doubt, there was an agreement but it was not circulated to all the then 23 (?) PDP governors. But a copy was kept with a South-South governor for strategic reasons. When the issue came up recently among some PDP governors no one could produce a copy. I think the Presidency was aware of where the pact was kept and that is why it has been confidently denying any pact.”
What a narrative! This has been unconscionably and unscrupulously packaged in an attempt to seek to convince the Nigerian people that there was actually an agreement signed by President Jonathan. By the way, which serious group of people would sign an agreement as important as this in a single copy without a duplicate?
This simply shows how seriously they related with the enterprise of extracting, as they have claimed, the agreement by Jonathan to commit himself to a single term in office. This is no doubt one in the series of the oppositions’ gambits at face-saving. Having realised that they have committed a big gaffe, they have decided to rewrite their original script by trying to put the Jonathan camp on the defensive with this largely unsubstantiated claim contained in the report.
If neither supporters nor opponents of Jonathan have the document, who then is The Nation’s governor in PDP from the South-South, who is neutral, who has it?
The good thing is that Jonathan has further worsened the position of the opposition elements when he challenged them during the September 26, 2013 presidential media chat to show or publish the agreement they claimed he signed. He said, for the avoidance of doubts, he did not sign any agreement with anyone.
Indeed, this is not the first time the nation would be treated to this kind of political dubiety and theatrics. History has a way of repeating itself. It was ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who was first challenged in a similar circumstance in the build-up to his re-election in 2003. Some leaders of the North kicked, claiming that he signed an agreement that he would serve for only one term.
In the long run, no one could produce a document that Obasanjo signed to validate the claim that there was agreement by him not to go for a second term in office. There was, however, a salutary intervention by the late Chief Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi, the Aro of Mopa, who was one of the Northern leaders who sold Obasanjo’s candidacy to the North.
He had reportedly claimed that there was a meeting between some young Northern elements with Obasanjo at Transcorp Hilton Hotel during which they wanted Obasanjo to assure them that the North would be taken care of in the scheme of things under his presidency.
Awoniyi, who had helped to clarify the issue when it became topical, then said he was there in the room at the Transcorp Hilton where the meeting held and that when Obasanjo said he was not going to sign any agreement, he said he (Awoniyi) convinced him to do it as there was nothing bad in doing so.
He said he had to tear the hotel’s letterhead (writing) paper on which he made a draft of the said agreement that he (Obasanjo) would not do things that would hurt the interest of the North, after which he (Obasanjo) appended his usual signature: “OO Obasanjo.”
This was Awoniyi’s claim, which was clear enough that Obasanjo did not sign agreement not to run for a second term but made a commitment to carry the North along and not to do anything that would hurt its interest.
Indeed, analysts then had argued that even if Obasanjo had signed an agreement to spend a term in office, there was no way it would have been enforced when the constitution guaranteed his right to seek a second term in office.
In any case, did they see Obasanjo in the course of his first term in office as someone who would emulate or embrace the Mandela option? In fact, while they were trying to stop his constitutionally prescribed right to a second term the Ebora of Owu was in a long range plot for a possible third term in office.
Now, Jonathan is not planning for a third term; he is just primed to exhaust his constitutional second term in office after which he will retire to his country home at Otuoke in Bayelsa State. I therefore urge Nigerians to ignore the phantom one-term pact being claimed by the opposition and back the president fully to enjoy the benefit of a second term in the interest of peace, stability and unity of the nation.
Mr Kayode Ojo, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Lagos.