By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, please, permit me to reveal what had always been my secret fears about the Jonathan administration. For a government that assumed power with some measure of goodwill, one would have expected some lightning speed activities to compensate the few sympathetic members of the electorate who fell flat for the adroitly packaged scam called Fresh Air. But that has not been the case. Since attaining power, this government has only continued to waltz from one crisis to another. The pattern of governance has not changed from what it has always been since Nigerians had the misfortune of getting stuck with some of the most reckless politicians ever known to mankind in 1999.
I had always wondered what was responsible for the narcoleptic performance of this particular PDP-controlled Federal government in the past two years. By May 6, 2013, it would have been three years since President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in power. Incidentally, on that same day, Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan would have spent three odd years as our full-fledged President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
How time flies! In reality, President Jonathan has only one year left to complete one full term in office, even if legally his tenure officially terminates in May 2015. This is why it should be a matter of concern to his rabid supporters that not much has happened in three years. What exactly is the problem?
This poser was answered by no less a personage than a great man I call ‘Daddy’, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party. For any avoidance of doubt I hold him in the highest esteem. His son, Awwal, is my friend and I had considered the extremely charming gentleman as my Vice Presidential candidate in 2011 though it did not fly eventually. I was also a great admirer of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s continental initiative, as Executive President of The African Business Roundtable. As far back as 2005, he was able to address the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of the private sector. I was so proud that at last here was a Nigerian politician who had risen above petty and partisan ‘politricks’ at home to climb the world stage.
I’m at a loss as to when and how ‘Daddy’ was persuaded to return to the murky waters of Nigerian politics. I was the saddest man when he announced his intention to become the Chairman of the most unruly political party in Africa. My apprehension was not without justification. Practically all the past Chairmen before him had been shot down so mercilessly. PDP is a party of garrison commanders and ‘Daddy’ is too gentle and mild-mannered to trade tackles with those trained in the field of death. When he eventually won the race, all I could do was to wish him well like a child would reasonably do.
But ‘Daddy’ has known no peace in that horrendous cauldron. As Chairman, he has started to do and say what I never knew with him. He has become a master of volte-face. He’s been trying hard to assert himself and to show loyalty to his sponsors to office. Not too long ago, he described Governor Rotimi Amaechi as Nigeria’s best Governor after a tour of Rivers State. A few weeks later, ‘Daddy’ has done a wonderful political somersault, with the help of the hard-working Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akwabio, and now describes Amaechi as a Judas who has betrayed Nigeria’s Jesus Christ, Goodluck Jonathan. This is the tragedy of Nigerian politics.
But let’s thank God for little mercies. Something good has come out of the whole debacle. ‘Daddy’ has inadvertently revealed what no Nigerian ever suspected before this week. The cat was let out of the bag while celebrating the triumphant victory of the PDP apparatchik over the hacking down of the effervescent Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, days earlier. ‘Daddy’ could not contain his joy and that of his troublesome political party in finding a permanent solution to the medical condition of our President. Unknown to most Nigerians, but now gleefully revealed by ‘Daddy’, President Jonathan is suffering from chronic insomnia as a result of challenges to his authority by a fellow South South man, Governor Amaechi of Rivers State.
For some of us, that was a great revelation. An insomniac President would always make costly mistakes. In this case, this is not even a regular case of inability to sleep. There are traces of paranoia, the fear of being surrounded by enemies. The victim of neurosis often degenerates to a dangerous level where he finds it difficult to differentiate friends from enemies. He begins to attack everyone and anything he considers as potential danger. No one is too big or too small to destroy. And there is no limit to what havoc he can wreak. The psychosis is easily triggered by mere suspicion. And it is clear our President is suffering from the worst form of this affliction because almost every friend is now perceived as a foe.
Many world leaders have been known to suffer this debilitating ailment at the advanced stage of messianic delusion. According to experts, this usually occurs when a leader sees his position as a birth right and his mission as that of a benefactor. He develops a defensive instinct and a protective shield against anyone who encroaches on his territory no matter the filial relationship.
The ways men of power are not the ways of mere mortals. For them, power is everything. And their friends are liars and pretenders. They are all-seeing and all-knowing. They need no one to advise them on anything. Every attempt to hold contrary views to theirs is considered an affront and acts of insubordination and disloyalty. The battle between President Jonathan and Governor Rotimi Amaechi did not start yesterday. It is traceable to a most embarrassing incident that occurred on August 24, 2010 between the President’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, and Governor Rotimi Amaechi, over some demolition exercise in Okrikaland, Rivers State.
The First Lady was on a visit to Okrika, her homeland, and was incensed by Governor Amaechi’s proposed developmental projects in her territory which had led to the displacement of the original land owners. According to a report in The Nation newspaper of August 25, 2010, “An attempt by Amaechi to explain the situation sent the First Lady boiling.” The enraged First Lady reportedly grabbed the microphone and ordered the Governor to listen attentively to her. The Nation reported that: “The governor was embarrassed like a scolded school pupil. The audience hailed Mrs Jonathan, goading the First Lady on.”
Since then the relationship between the Jonathans and the Amaechis has been that of cat and mouse. Though The President and The Governor acted like men would normally do in public, there was no love lost between the families. It was in their mutual interests not to start what they couldn’t finish. The Presidential election was approaching and the Governor had his re-election bid to tackle. The President in particular could not allow any domestic strife to set his political turf ablaze. He would rather run away from the tussle to be able to fight another day.
Both men achieved their dreams but there is never a limit to man’s ambition. The Governor became the Chairman of Governor’s Forum which increased his profile to a higher level. His brutal frankness and revolutionary posturing would soon pitch him against Africa’s most conservative party and the world’s most powerful President. It was never in the character of the People’s Democratic Party warlords to encourage or tolerate such effrontery. Sooner or later, Rotimi Amaechi was going to end up in their pepper-soup pots. Nothing else would please the rambunctious gladiators who love to draw blood at every opportunity.
Amaechi attracted bigger trouble when the rumour-mill went agog with news of subterranean moves to present a Sule Lamido/Rotimi Amaechi presidential ticket in 2015. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. It was the last heresy the supporters of President Jonathan wanted to hear at this time. In Nigeria, the struggle for re-election starts as soon as an election has been won. True or false, the Presidents men did not take the rumour lightly and have since gunned for Amaechi’s jugular. First to attack Amaechi was Elder Godsday Orubebe who fired from all cylinders. It was a sign of bigger battles to come. Naturally, Amaechi fought back with all the fire-power at his command. He retorted by stating that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs was totally “irresponsible.” Amaechi had accused the Federal Government of not doing enough to develop their area; a bitter truth Jonathan’s gang was not ready to hear. It was obvious Amaechi had stepped on the raw nerves of the President because there was no way a Minister would have attacked the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum without express clearance from the Presidency.
Amaechi was not the only target. His supposed partner-in-crime, Governor Sule Lamido got a clear message through his own children who were arrested at the slightest opportunity as if they were commoners like us. The subtle message was strong: “We are watching, don’t dare monkey with us!” Sule Lamido has since been singing like a Nightingale, denying he ever nursed such a satanic ambition. Jonathan is obviously a good student of the Obasanjo University of Political Strategy where the Old Testament is a compulsory read. The sins of the father are often visited on the children up to the fourth generation and even possibly beyond.
Others before Lamido and Amaechi had suffered the same fate. The former Governor of Bayelsa, Chief Deprieye Alamieyeseigha would have served his two terms as the Governor-General of the Ijaw nation if he had not chosen to befriend the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Governor Peter Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State would not have been impeached in the middle of the night if he had remained the good boy of President Obasanjo. The Odidigborigbo himself, the former Delta State Governor, James Onanefe Ibori, would have easily retired to his Oghara palace if he had not expressed interest in who rules Nigeria. The former Senate President of Nigeria, Chief Adolphus Wabara would never have been arrested and prosecuted for a mere pittance, in Nigerian parlance, of N50million only. The second embattled former Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr Timipre Sylva would be in blissful retirement rather than a beleaguered existence if he had obeyed the President when he was ordered to drop his second term bid.
As frustrating and dastardly as it may sound, big guys very rarely go to prison in Nigeria except they offend the vengeful godfathers. For now, there is nothing to suggest that the ugly pattern would change soon. Our former military rulers who came at different times made no effort to rid Nigeria of scavengers like their counterparts did in other countries. Instead, they soon enmeshed themselves in bigger filth than what they purportedly came to cleanse. Thus no powerful message was ever sent about crime and punishment. And Nigeria has been the loser. Now, Nigerians have generally come to believe and accept that the bigger the loot the greater the chance of escaping with it and that there is really nothing to fear.
A lot of water has passed under the PDP Bridge. With trillions of Naira already down the drain and many more trillions available to share, the national cake is as attractive as ever. The battle between the two PDP gladiators promises to be of epic nature.
However, I foresee a major opportunity for the Opposition to penetrate the impregnable walls erected over the past 14 years by PDP. The Opposition must act like sympathetic undertakers by helping to inter the party that has failed to give even a little respite to Nigerians for so long.
There is no better time than now for the Opposition to strike whilst the iron is hot because a house divided against itself cannot stand. God bless Nigeria.