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Jonah in belly of Bayelsans

By Emeka Obasi

Our political space is full of ill prepared humans who at best should not be allowed near government. The result is what we see every day, giant of Africa under the control of quasi leaders.

World Environmental Day: Group wants end to gas-flaring in Bayelsa(Opens in a new browser tab)

Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah humbled himself when he chose to run with Seriake Henry Dickson in 2012. On Valentine day of that year, both were sworn in as Governor and Deputy governor respectively, of Bayelsa State.

What struck me was that Jonah had retired from the Navy as the 12th Commandant of the National Defence College, Abuja. His tenure was from February 11, 2008 to June 25, 2010.

The Defence College is the elite school of the Armed Forces and past commandants include a former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar and at least, four former Military governors: Generals Jerry Useni, Oladipo Diya, Chris Garba and Godwin Abbe.

Jonah will be completing an eight-year tenure as Deputy governor early next year and so far, I have not heard him talk of running for the position of governor. His partnership with Dickson speaks a lot about loyalty.

Dickson has made it clear that he has no anointed candidate as replacement. In his words, the next governor of Bayelsa State will emerge through “consultations, consensus building and prayer.”

We are in the month of June and the Bayelsa governor has tasked religious leaders in the state to take it to the Lord in prayer.

I am not from Bayelsa but I have joined the prayer warriors. Something in me has a soft spot for Jonah. This country needs experienced men as leaders. To rise to the rank of Rear Admiral is not child’s play.

Add that to the eight years he has spent as Deputy governor. We have had cases where deputy governors struggled for relevance with governors. Some governors swept their deputies away from office. It happened in Lagos. It happened in Abia. The same scenario played out in Akwa Ibom.

Deputy governors also plotted against governors. We all remember what happened in Oyo, Plateau and Anambra under President Olusegun Obasanjo. There was even the story of a deputy governor slapping a governor in Edo State.

In Bayelsa there is something to write about governors and their deputies. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was pushed in to replace Diepriye Alamieyeseigha in 2005. Timipre Sylva could have regretted ever working with his deputy, Ebebi.

I cannot read the minds of Bayelsans now. I speak for myself. I would want Adm. Jonah to step up and step into the shoes of Governor Dickson. Experience counts. We can all see what is happening in Ebonyi State where a former Deputy, Dave Umahi, is doing so well as governor.

If we have to rely on prayers, God could as well remember this Jonah from Nembe. The Bible tells us the story of a man called Jonah who was spared after being swallowed by a whale.

I do not know if the biblical Jonah ever saw the seas of Bayelsa but it is possible that the same whale migrated to the Atlantic Ocean and found home onshore around the Nembe-Brass waters.

In other words, if this Jonah who wore navy white, goes into a trance today, Bayelsans may discover that Jonah in the Bible was his forebear. This is more than a joke though.

Adm. Jonah is a member of the Nigeria Defence Academy Course 16. That is the course that produced officers like Maj.Gen. Harrison Adoga and Commander Suleiman Dahun. I am not  sure now if Marshal Oluseyi Petirin trained with them at the same time.

There is something interesting about Jonah. He is the first Nigerian general to run for an elective post as Deputy governor.  Generals love to come back as governors.

Samuel Ogbemudia did that in Bendel State in 1983. Mohammed Lawal achieved that in Kwara in 1999. Olagunsoye Oyinlola followed in Oshun four years later. Murtala Nyako made it in Adamawa while Jonah Jang’s turn came in Plateau in 2007.

Bayelsa is also a story. Alamieyeseigha, the first civilian governor of the state retired from the Air Force as a Squadron Leader and had the initials of a police rank: DSP.

Governor Dickson was in the Nigeria Police Force. If Jonah succeeds him, we may be waiting for a retired Army officer after that. That will keep the tradition going.

The name Jonah is also trailing the Bayelsa deputy governor. Should he eventually win election this November, he becomes another Jonah, a retired military officer as state governor, after Jonah Jang.

And think about this: The man who replaced Adm. Jonah at the

National Defence College, was another Jonah. His name? Admiral T. Jonah Lokoson.

I will be a happy man if the Bayelsa Deputy governor decides to run. Such men bring with them a lot of quality. And it happened in the past. Men who attained great Federal heights returned to their state to contribute to development.

After serving in the First Republic as minister, President Shehu Shagari went back to Sokoto to serve as Local Government chairman. And he never forgot his calling as a teacher.

Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya was in the same boat. He was Housing and Surveys minister in the First Republic. Under the military, he became Lagos State commissioner for Education.

The First Nigerian Inspector General of Police [IGP], Luis Orok Edet, relocated to the newly created South Eastern State in 1967 as commissioner for  Home Affairs and Social Welfare in the Jacob Esuene government.

Maitama Sule was minister of Mines and Power in the First Republic. Under Audu Bako, he was appointed commissioner for Co-operative and Community Development.

The first Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Julius Momo Udochi, joined the Ogbemudia administration in 1967 as Mid –Western State Attorney –General and Commissioner for Justice.

What Jonah did was in order. It shows his nature as a down to earth man who also has much more to offer beyond the position of deputy governor. And he has not put on airs about it. I guess he is also praying and fasting like me. My submission is that the cap fits him.

 

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