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Jonathan Presidency was a disaster foretold (2)

By Dele Sobowale

“Good man wrong profession”, Sam Rayburn, 1882-1961, US HOUSE SPEAKER, 1940-1961.

Read the first part here

Sam Rayburn, whose protégé was the late President Lyndon Johnson, 1908-1973, who was Senator, Vice-President and President in 1963 when late President John Kennedy, 1917-1963, was assassinated in Texas, Johnson’s own state, was perhaps the most powerful Speaker ever in America’s history. He was also a Texan. If a President of Nigeria is ever killed in the home state of his Vice-President, a civil war would follow. Some of us who remember that episode in 1963 which brought Johnson to power, were praying extra-hard that nothing would happen to Buhari on his visit to Ogun State, early in the month. A civil war would have followed if something similar happened. I hope Buhari stays away from Ogun State; or the South West for that matter until his tenure expires.

Rayburn made that statement about General Dwight Eisenhower, 1890-1969, when the Commander of the Allied Forces was chosen as the flag-bearer for the Republican Party in 1952. Eisenhower won the election and was President of the US from 1952-1960. But, he was totally ineffectual hardly any legacy of his term exists anywhere. Sam Rayburn was right. A man might be good, but, he might lack the qualities for national leadership. When Obasanjo forced the combination of Yar’Adua and Jonathan on the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Nigeria, I had recalled Rayburn’s words. Yar’Adua and GEJ were/are good men in the wrong profession – politics; especially Nigerian/African politics. Whatever else they may have as human qualities, they lacked that indispensable ingredient one attributed to Cicero, 106-43 BC, BY Lucius Accius, 170-85 BC. Oderint dum metuant (Latin), meaning, Let them hate, so long as they fear.”  Every political leader especially in a developing country, if he is to succeed, must have the fear factor. Without it, he is lost and the country is doomed.

If there was one thing Yar’Adua and Jonathan lacked, it was the fear factor. They were two “pussy-cats” draped in lion’s skin and everybody took advantage of that weakness. About two and a half years ago, during one of his media chats, Jonathan had touched on the subject of his approach to wielding power. He announced that he is not a lion, a tiger, an autocrat etc. That prompted me to ask the following week on these pages, WHAT ARE YOU SIR?. Because if a leader, even as a Supervisor, does not possess some fear factor, then he must rely on providing excellent example to hold the group and achieve great results. That unfortunately, is not guaranteed to succeed alone. Most subordinates seek to avoid punishment, if it is certain, than to receive rewards – even if also certain.

Today, Jonathan is back in Otuoke, waiting for what a “lion-hearted” leader might decide to do to him after all the revelations are in. He should not have been. The signs were there all along that all was not well. But GEJ lacked the will to deal decisively with the culprits as events developed. Take Haliburton issue for instance; the scam was blown open abroad and it involved two of his predecessors in office. If he had taken up the matter and brought those responsible to justice, and, if shortly after releasing his ROAD MAP FOR POWER programme, he had called for an open inquiry into how $13-16 billion vanished without any discernible improvement on power supply, he would probably not be seating in Otuoke today. Israel just sentenced a former President twenty four years after leaving office on account of corrupt practices. Nethayahu had sent a powerful message saying “I am in charge here, nobody messes with me.” Unlike the Israeli leader GEJ was mortally afraid of OBJ; even though nobody would have lost sleep if Jonathan had taken the self-righteous man into EFCC custody. But, Ebele lacked the guts.

He is now reaping the harvest of his weakness. The PDP is in disarray over the choice of a Chairman backed by Jonathan. Suddenly, people like Okupe, Fani-Kayode, who between them cannot deliver hundred votes to PDP are threatening to quit if Jonathan does not back down. A man knocked down by an elephant, due to his own carelessness, cannot complain if bush rats crawl all over him. Can he?

The disintegration of the PDP is unavoidable. If he changes his mind, the Governors will form another party. If he doesn’t, they will go. Either way, the party he led to defeat will crumble. Meanwhile, other party leaders have started leaving. They don’t consider PDP worth salvaging.

History will record that the once largest political party in Africa, founded by Dr Alex Ekwueme, (who called it My Baby), and thirty-three men of integrity, had collapsed under the inheritors. As conceived, PDP was a revolutionary attempt to create an all-embracing political party. The G-34 included people who until then never walked the same side of the political road – Ige and Adebanjo, with Rimi and Balarabe Musa, Ezeife and Ume-Ezeoke, Attah and Ellah. Another “Best Nigerian Team” would be difficult to imagine. Only God knows how Ekwueme persuaded them to work together. Unfortunately, they made their worst mistake when they handed the party to Obasanjo – who brought in the wrecking crew.

“Revolutions end up in the hands of mad men. Besides, if the power is great enough, it will make its own mad men by its nature.” Saul Bellow.

(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 217). GEJ is a good man in the wrong profession. God took him to the top. He should stop now and allow the political jackals to fight over the carrion. He will certainly receive more insults if he continues.

As good old Elphinston advised another political leader after suffering a set back, “You’ve had your share of mirth, of meat and drink. It’s time to quit the scene. It’s time to think.”


“God save me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.” An Irish prayer.

I had followed Buhari since 2011; even after he lost. I became afraid when the new alliance which became APC emerged for one reason only. Some individuals don’t know when an election has ended. They continue releasing the type of half-truths and even falsehoods even when they are in government.

In one national newspaper, the Minister said as follows: “This is the first time in the history of this country that a government will embark on what is called zero-based budgeting…This year we decide that every ministry must have a zero based budget.” He also claimed there was “no padding” in the 2016 Budget. Really?

Let us start with one general observation about Civil Service procedures. It is a fact that any change to long standing procedures affecting the entire government must be preceded by a circular  announcing the change from the old to the new and instructing all public servants about how to proceed. Invariably workshops, retreats, etc are organized, at least for Permanent Secretaries and Directors to ensure problem-free implementation. The Secretary to the Federal Government issues such circulars. Then the Ministers and DGs pass them down the line.

Can Lai Mohammed publish a copy of the circular mandating officers to adopt the Zero-sum budgeting approach for 2016 so we can see who signed it and when it was supposed to take effect? It will also be of interest to know who the fool was who thought that several thousand public servants who never had experience with Zero-sum would be able to implement that directive without training. We are waiting…



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