Nigeria: PDP Break-Up: Who Will Deliver Jonathan from sycophants?
by Obinna Akukwe
The recent attempt by Atiku and a group of governors to break up the ruling PDP have raised questions on the ability of President Jonathan to deliver himself from self seeking aides and sycophants. One of the greatest tragedies of Jonathan presidency is the array of prayer warriors, boot-lickers, praise singers and all categories of servile groups angling for his presidential attention.
The event of last Saturdays mini convention where a sitting president of Africa’s greatest nation was abandoned by all but three of his 27 PDP party governors, Yuguda , Akpabio and Dakingari, calls to question the human management capacity of the incumbent. All the governors who tricked him into dragging PDP on the path of self destruct abandoned him on the day of trouble. Some of them I heard were secretly making supportive phone calls to the group of seven Governors who walked out on him during the convention and pledged their allegiance to the new move.
Having closely monitored the intrigues before, during and after the ill-fated mini convention from both sides of the camp; Jonathan and G-7 Governors, I was personally rattled by the ease at which presidential strategists allowed the Commander-in-Chief walk into opposition trap. Hints of what would become of the congress came after the Obuah-led PDP faction in Rivers state, in an attempt to prevent an Amechi loyalist and Former Deputy National Chairman, Sam Jaja from re-election, suspended him and 15 commissioners from the party few days to the election.
In a similar development, the PDP South West zonal leaders begged Jonathan to allow zonal congress before the mini convention but Tukur told them that a court had suspended the congress and insisted that PDP must obey the court order implying that there would be no congress in the South West PDP before the mini convention. The disappointed party men interpreted it as another move aimed at frustrating former National Secretary and Obasanjo’s loyalist, Olagunsoye Oyinlola from resuming his position as National Secretary, despite solicitations from the elders of PDP in the zone. In protest their supporters linked up with the rebel governors.
The case of Olisa Metuh and Kema Chikwe former National Publicity Secretary and National Women Leader who wanted to opt for their adoption by zonal caucus of PDP rather than election, created another ill feelings within the PDP days to the convention. Another case of Abubakar Mustapha former National Organizing Secretary and Vice President Sambo’s candidate whom stakeholders in the North Central Zone wanted replaced by Sidi Ibrahim Bamali was another sore point.
On the other hand, the group of seven governors had planned to continue with their plot to control some offices within PDP NWC despite the knowledge that the Tukur leadership is foreclosing their candidates. They believed that the scenario when 19 governors voted for Amechi during the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) elections will re-enact. To the best of my knowledge, their plot was to earn a surprise victory at the congress; hence they mobilized finances for their favored candidates to reach out to all delegates. However, immediately the presidential horse trading and introduction of ‘anointed’ delegates list started, they knew their plans will fail.
Obasanjo, Babangida, Tambuwal, notified of the plot by the trio of Anenih, Tukur and Jonathan to ensure total victory for their supporters, decided to respect their elder statesmanship by shunning the convention. Jerry Gana, Senator Ndoma Egba and Senator Ike Ekweremmadu did not do enough to reassure the governors and aggrieved party men that there would be a level playing field. Gana’s theory of using 2012 delegates list of earlier convention was rejected, Ndoma Egba postponed the date of screening of aspirants, creating mounting suspicion. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremmadu wanted Metuh and Chikwe returned at all costs, hence he insisted that vacant positions must be reserved for states where the former officers came from- a move which did not go down well with PDP stakeholders in the South East including Governor Sullivan Chime, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, and Senator Ken Nnamani. They wanted other aspirants like Chyna Iwuanyanwu, Okey Muo Aroh among others to contest alongside Metuh. President Jonathan who earlier rejected the adoption of Metuh and Chikwe, accepted hours to the convention. All these pockets of dissent helped in swelling the morale base of the opposition.
When I got wind of the Jonathan approved list of candidates for the election, tagged ‘Unity List’ hours before the election, I remarked jokingly that this list will put PDP on fire. Indeed it fired PDP to Armageddon. What I expected the president to do was to both provide a level playing ground for the election and afterwards parley with the elected officials, or pick some key positions and give to the opposition. I was told that Jonathan actually mooted the idea but Anenih, Tukur, Akpabio,Secondus, Gana, Ekweremmadu, Dickson were among those who vehemently rejected the idea of any concession for the opposition. I told an excited Jonathan strategist who was so sure that they have muscled out what he termed the ‘Atiku-Obasanjo-Babangida-7 Governors gang up’ that there would be a great disgrace at Eagle Square-and he assured that there is no shaking in PDP, until the mother of all shaking took place.
These empty headed PDP strategists and kitchen cabinet did not factor in that lots of powerful persons within the party are already fed up with the arbitrary manner the affairs is being run. They are only waiting for opportunity within the system to vent their anger against Anenih, Tukur, Jonathan and the mini convention provided the opportunity. Some PDP chieftains who told me that they are in support of the Atiku moves but cannot canvass it openly now for political reasons. This is real problem for PDP, hidden enemies waiting for the right time to abandon the party.
President Jonathan has all the state resources to bull doze his way with PDP, the only problem with this option is that Obasanjo, Atiku, Babangida, Uba and some others can match presidential finances if they so desire. Jonathan can also use security agents to intimidate others into controlling the PDP but the experience of militancy in Nigeria has shown that the armed forces do not have monopoly of violent intimidation. There are stockpiles of arms in the hands of criminals and it only takes a politician with brawn and funds to turn them into weapons of warfare.
The Way Out
Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan must as a matter of urgency distance himself from all these boot lickers, sycophants, praise singers and those who gave him false impression about the successes of his presidency. He must shun those who goaded him to open war fronts on many sides all in an effort to win the 2015 presidential election .He should maintain dignified neutrality and parley personally with elected party chieftains to win them over his side.
The issue of dropping his presidential ambition as demanded by the G-7 governors is not acceptable. Jonathan has the right to contest in 2015 and nobody should stifle his ambitons, He should also not muzzle the presidential ambitions of Amechi, Lamido, Atiku, Aliyu or whosoever in PDP, Let the PDP primaries from authentic delegates list determine the flagbearer. The type of presidential interference which frustrated Soludo and Andy Uba in Anambra State Chapters of APGA and PDP is not good for democracy and may not be tolerated by these governors in their respective states.
The use of arbitrary means in tackling dissenting opinions within the party should stop. Those who know Jonathan personally have affirmed that he is an amiable and diplomatic personality, but once those all knowing hawks surrounds him ,he suddenly realigns to strange advices.
Jonathan and PDP handlers should allow fairness to reign in their party. . Above all the oozing stench of sycophants and praise singers who constantly blind Jonathan’s eyes to realities on the ground is his greatest Achilles hills and can break up the party and I know that many Nigerians would celebrate the breakup of PDP.