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Monday, 23 September 2013

Jonathan: What Went Wrong

 by James Uzondu

News Introduction: 
Like all informed observers know, the clash of interest of who the 2015 elections should favour is the reason for the split in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. But there are other unanswered questions: Why are the rebels in PDP so obsessed with pulling down the chairman of the party, Alh. Bamanga Tukur? Why are they hell-bent on embarrassing the president, distract and frustrate his government? Why are they interested in him failing? What has he done? - By Samuel Odaudu and Mike Odiakose
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is an immense man of history. Looking at his lowly background, it would have appeared ridiculous and deceptive for any one, be it a soothsayer or prophet conversant with his beginning to have predicted that he would one day become the president of the most populous Black nation on earth, Nigeria. Devoid of colour and glitter associated with aristocratic kids who are born with silver spoons in their mouths, the story of his gradual, unpredictable but steady rise from grass to grace has captured several imaginations and has as well rattled the pompous who bestride our checkered socio-political space like peacocks.
His story is indeed a powerful statement, a symbolic seed of destiny sown into many a dreamer – the Nigerian child - a positive mentality. Among the sweating, toiling and hapless Nigerian masses that endlessly wait for socio-economic consolation before 2010, the emergence of President Jonathan was and still remains unquenchable inspiration. In many quarters, it became a proverb: ‘If Jonathan can make it, I can make it also’, almost quoting the president himself when, in 2010 at the Eagle Square during the Peoples Democratic Party’s, PDP, presidential primary in Abuja, he said, “Fellow Nigerians, if I could make it, you too can make it!”
If personal history is the only parameter used in deciding who gets what in the journey of life, young Jonathan and people in his category would have perpetually remained unknown as a result of their inconsequential and disadvantaged backgrounds in life.
As told by himself, he told Nigerians and the rest of the world that, “My story is the story of a young Nigerian whose access to education opened up vast opportunities that enabled me to attain my present position. As I travel up and down our country, I see a nation blessed by God with rich agricultural and mineral resources and an enterprising people. I see millions of Nigerians whose potentials for greatness are constrained by the lack of basic infrastructure.

“I see Nigerians who can make a difference in the service of their country but are disadvantaged by the lack of opportunities. My story symbolises my dream for Nigeria. The dream that any Nigerian child from Kaura-Namoda to Duke town; from Potiskum to Nsukka, from Isale-Eko to Gboko will be able to realize his God-given potentials, unhindered by tribe or religion and unrestricted by improvised political inhibitions. My story holds out the promise of a new Nigeria. A Nigeria built on the virtues of love and respect for one another, on unity, on industry, on hard work and on good
Governance”, President Jonathan crisply summarised his life history.
President Jonathan was born on November 20, 1957 into typical indigent Ijaw-speaking family in the Niger Delta region. In his village, fishing was the dominant occupation; a village where life was raw without infrastructure. A peer into what tomorrow would look like then had presented a rather hazy and uncertain future. Little did he or his family members know that that boy in the rural Bayelsa village would become the 14th Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He has a remarkable academic pedigree. President Jonathan holds a BS degree in Zoology, MSc degree in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology, and a Ph.D degree in Zoology from the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State. he had worked as an education inspector, lecturer and environmental protection officer be fore his foray into politics in 1998 when the ban of politics and political campaign were lifted by the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
His story is a steady progress of a meekly but unstoppable life defined by purpose and providence. He has served as a former deputy governor under Chief Dieprieye Alamieyeseigha in from May 1999, then he was sworn-in as governor of Bayelsa State on December 9, 2005, after the controversial removal of Alamieyeseigha as governor of the state. During the countdown to the 2007 presidential election, he was nominated by his party, the PDP, as running mate of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’adua blessed memory, the former governor of Katsina State. Thus he served the country as Vice President of Nigeria.
Before he became Nigeria’s president, Dr. Jonathan had worked in the public service.
As Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was sworn-in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 5, 2010, after the death his boss, President Umar Musa Yar’adua. On May 18, 2010, Governor Namadi Sambo of kaduna State, President Jonathan’s nomination, was approved by the National Assembly for the position of Vice-President.
Prior to that, when the ailment of President Yar’adua had rendered him incapacitated to carry out his duty as President of Nigeria as required by the constitution of Nigeria, and in the face of the cloudy political situation in the country orchestrated by the way and manner his worsening health condition which was mismanaged by members of his kitchen cabinet, Vice President Jonathan was confirmed Acting President by the Nigerian Senate under the invocation of the “doctrine of necessity” by the Senate President, David Mark, on February 9, 2010.
The controversies that surrounded ailment and the subsequent demise of President Yar’adua on May 5, 2010, and the dramatic manner in which Dr. Jonathan ascended the seat of power as Nigeria’s president was an indisputable, ineffaceable and strange statement about the role of providence in the centre of his life. He rode on this divine hands and guidance, and the populist will of Nigerians into the 2011 presidential election in which he won with remarkable difference.
The 2011 general election was one moment of history for the Nigeria’s nascent democracy. Nigerian electorate was faced with an auspicious moment of history-making decision. There was a presidential candidate who came from a minority group, Ijaw (though unconfirmed reports said Ijaw is about the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria); a presidential candidate who was not rail-roaded into the race by some self-important and selfish godfathers.
The Nigerian electorate made a bold statement for a radical political statement to the effect that, in the new Nigeria project, it is possible for a minority person to be elected into any political position in Nigeria.
Before President Goodluck Jonathan emerged victorious in the 2011 election, there were threats that the country would be made ungovernable for him if he eventually won the presidential election. Contrary to belief in some quarters that it was the defeated presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, General Muhammadu Buhari, that started that inflammatory comment, it actually started within the ruling PDP.
A founding member of the party and political ally of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, Alhaji Lawal Kaita had said in October 2010 that, “the North is determined, if that happens, to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan or any other Southerner who finds his way to the seat of power on the platform of the PDP against the principle of the party’s zoning policy in 2011”. Kaita had at that time warned that the North should not be blamed for the calamity that would befall the country if Jonathan emerges President. Then other persons took cue from Kaita.
Threats of violence became a sing-song in the camp of Atiku ahead of the 2011 convention of the PDP where the party picked its presidential candidate. Atiku made a blunder of carrying this politics of “do or die” into the Eagle Square convention ground of the PDP in January 2011 where the party delegates elected its presidential candidate. When Atiku was given the microphone to address the delegates, he wasted the limited time talking about the violence and calamity that would befall the country if power did not shift to the north. This was after he had earlier threatened that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. These threats did not go down well with most of the delegates, including his supporters and the outcome of that convention is now history.
The violence that trailed the outcome of the 2011 presidential election was further fueled by the comments of Buhari who asked his followers to take up arms if the election was rigged. But unfortunately, even before the result was announced in some parts of the north, violence had erupted claiming the life of thousands of innocent Nigerians, including youth corps members. It is ironical that it is the same places where Buhari won that protest by his supporters took place.
Since Jonathan was sworn in as president in 2011, the violence which those opposed to his candidature promised in order to make Nigeria ungovernable has been the biggest challenge his administration has been facing. It has blossomed into national security challenge. It is interesting that the violence and the misgovernance are concentrated mostly in the north. Members of Boko Haram sect are considered major suspects in the perpetration of mayhem. Practically, the economic, social and other activities of the north, especially in eastern parts of the region have been crippled. This thus led to the declaration of state of emergency in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states.
Northern leaders that are believed to be sponsoring this violence never took the warning by Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah serious that the wonton destruction and killings will take the north 30 years back until the people they are using to commit the havoc turned their guns against northern elites. Most of them, until recently, stopped going to their villages and holed up in Abuja and Kaduna as a result of the activities of the monsters they created.

The Tukur Factor and Amaechi Connection

While the Jonathan administration is trying to curtail the security challenges, members of his PDP were busy causing distractions within the party. Apart from about 11 states where flawed state congresses were conducted as reported by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, all was well in PDP until the March 8, 2012, national convention of the party where a new National Working Committee, NWC, headed by Dr. Bamanga Tukur was elected.
Prior to the election of Tukur, only the governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, openly expressed objection to the emergence of Tukur for very obvious reasons. Tukur is an indigene of Adamawa State and as one of the founding fathers of PDP, he was in the forefront for the revisit of the flawed congresses in the state. Other governors did not buy into Nyako’s campaign against Tukur and the governors played active role in convincing the other eleven aspirants that went into the race to step down for Tukur.
No one knows exactly what went wrong between Tukur and PDP governors but political observers believe that Tukur’s insistence that the party is an institution that must be respected and party supremacy must also be entrenched in PDP is the root of the rift between him and some PDP governors.
According to Tukur, the NWC, the president, governors and every other member of the party, irrespective of their status, must stay under the party and not on top of it. “We as leaders of your party are here. Our job is to ensure that we support all actions being done to help the promotion and development of our people. Let us build the institution of government strong; it is not the personality; it is the institution. For us, the party is supreme it is not the NWC or the President or the Governors it is the institution of the party itself that is supreme because all of us come in and go.
“Once that institution is respected and organised and committed, you can be sure that our country will be great and we will be able to raise our heads high before any nation”, he said. Unfortunately, most of the governors are uncomfortable with the zeal and commitment of Tukur to the reform agenda. It is feared that it will erode their powers as lords of the manor in the states chapters of the party.
Prior to the election of Tukur, PDP had the misfortune of having national chairmen that are always running cup in hand to the governors for assistance. Since the governors pay the former national chairmen, they dictated the tune. That was the sorry state before Tukur took over the leadership of the party.
PDP governor, who allowed the governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, to preside over their meeting by virtue of his former position as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, before the inauguration of PDP Governors Forum, ganged up against Tukur and were working at cross purposes with the national leadership of the party. Amaechi was in the forefront in the battle against the leadership of PDP unknown to many of his colleagues that he has an agenda that is not unconnected to the politics of 2015.
It is believed that Amaechi wants Tukur out because of his fear that with Tukur in the saddle, he will not be able to manipulate the national leadership of the party to favour his rumoured ambition to contest for the position of vice president in 2015. To secure the support of the PDP governors, Amaechi is always there to support them anytime they have issues with the PDP leaders, President Jonathan or the federal government.
Prior to the inauguration of PDP Governors Forum, Amaechi’s group infiltrated the PDP NWC and recruited the former Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja and former National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as their anchor men. They instigated the palace coup against Tukur when they attempted to reverse the sack of the Adamawa State executive committee loyal to Governor Nyako. Naturally, Tukur fought back and when he had a leeway from the judiciary that removed Oyinlola and the National Auditor, Chief Bode Mustapha, who were brought into the NWC by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he never allowed it to slip by.
The removal of Oyinlola and Mustapha compounded the perceived rift between Tukur and some governors. When Tukur eventually led NWC members on reconciliation tour of the six geo-political zones, some governors that had axe to grind with him stayed away.
To break Amaechi’s stranglehold on PDP governors, the leadership of the party inaugurated the PDP Governors Forum and appointed the Akwa Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio, as the chairman. That move not only sent Amaechi to the back seat but also split the governor with Amaechi having only about six PDP governors behind him. The rift among PDP governors was moved to the larger Nigeria Governors Forum where their election ended up splitting the forum with one faction headed by Amaechi and the other headed by Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State.
The 19 northern governors had earlier adopted Jang as their consensus candidate and presented him to the 25 PDP governors as their choice for Amaechi’s replacement. But like the Biblical Judas, some of the northern governors that dragged and adopted Jang, even when he never indicated interest, later betrayed him when the election proper was conducted. Governor Sule Lamido was to confess later that the northern governors that betrayed Jang were himself, Governor Babangida Aliu, Governor Aliyu Wamakko Magatarda of Sokoto, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and Governor Musa Kwakwanso of Kano who are today known as the ‘G5 Governors’ or the rebel governors by the media.  
Amaechi’s ambition to go for the position of vice president on a joint ticket with either Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State or Governor Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso of Kano State against his kinsman, President Jonathan, did not go down well with his people back home and he was practically ostracised by his brother governors in his region. In Rivers State, Amaechi lost control of PDP structures from the ward to the state levels when a High Court declared Felix Obuah as the legitimate chairman of the state chapter of PDP.
There was another development before then. Amaechi has been having a running battle with some chieftains of the party after he allegedly instigated the sack of the chairman, vice chairman, all councilors of Obi/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. All entreaties for Amaechi to prevail on the Rivers State House of Assembly to reverse the decision fell on deaf ears leading to eventual suspension of Amaechi and some members of Rivers Assembly from the PDP.
The crisis in Rivers Assembly culminated in physical combat between Amaechi’s supporters and anti-Amaechi law makers when there was an attempt to unseat the speaker. Nigerians watched with disbelieve when one of the lawmakers used the mace to attack another lawmaker after Amaechi and security aides invaded the House to stop the attempt to remove the speaker that is fiercely loyal to him.
After this incident, the northern G5 Governors who have since abandoned governance in their states on accounts of 2015 interest went to Rivers State on solidarity visit only to have irate crowd waiting for them at the airport. They got more than they bargained for after the youths pelted their convoy. The youths were angry with Amaechi for working with those they believe are all out to deny their region opportunity of having Jonathan enjoy second term as provided for in the constitution.
Since Amaechi fell out with the leadership of PDP, he is said to have been hobnobbing with the defunct ACN that merged with other parties to form the All Progressives Congress, APC. His unofficial entry into ACN split the party in the state and some of their members that were not happy with this development like Abiye Sekibo dumped the party and returned to the PDP. Because of the rapport between Amaechi and the opposition parties, they took over any issue affecting the embattled governor, even matters that are purely internal affairs of PDP. The APC governors are also the ones still nudging Amaechi to continue with the battle over the control of the NGF.
When PDP eventually organised the Special National Convention on August 31 to fill the vacuum created by the mass resignation of all the members of the National Working Committee, NWC, whose election in 2012 was considered flawed, the G5 Governors that are agitating for power shift to the north alongside Atiku staged a walkout and went to Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre where they announced the birth of the New PDP. For the first time in several years, two political arch-rivals, Atiku and Governor Nyako sat on same table, united by individual quests for political relevance. The New PDP is basically made up of people who are either aggrieved or are in the race for the 2015 presidential race. Some of the aggrieved governors like Lamido who are considered Obasanjo boys went into the marriage of convenience with Atiku who, until now, does not see eye to eye with Atiku.
While Obasanjo is aggrieved that he had lost control of Ogun State chapter of PDP to Prince Kasamu faction, in addition to the sack of Oyinlola and his other loyalists from PDP NWC, Atiku is hoping to use the platform to contest the 2015 presidential election, even after he was reported to have used proxies to register the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM. To ensure they get the support of Obasanjo, the New PDP appointed Oyinlola as the National Secretary while Amaechi’s nominee, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, was given position of Deputy National Chairman. Analyst believe that implosion in New PDP is inevitable as it is believed that with Oyinlola as National Secretary, Obasanjo will use Oyinlola, Lamido and Kwakwanso, to checkmate Atiku.
Besides, Obasanjo has once again, rekindled his old rift with Atiku. The media war is expected to be sustained in the coming days.
As PDP leaders work round the clock to settle the crisis in the party, it is believed that the conditions put forward by the New PDP are almost impossible to meet. The conditions include the sack of Tukur who was elected at a national convention by delegates; reversal of the sack of Adamawa and Rivers executive committee that was removed by a court order; lifting of the suspension slammed on Amaechi despite the fact that the case is subjudice since Amaechi is already in court; stoppage of the trial of former Governor Bukola Saraki for fraud by the EFCC and the automatic return of Oyinlola and others former NWC members.
So far several high level meetings have not yielded any results. But one easy way out for Jonathan and other PDP leaders is the resolution of some pending petitions about flawed congresses and imposition of candidates which Tukur has, for whatever reason, ignored since he came into office despite several reminders.
As earlier hinted, the 2015 presidential election is the most important factor in the ongoing political permutations. The conflicts are the symptoms of big national blackmail by politicians to slaughter national interest on the alter of selfish interest.
According to the findings of this magazine, opposition think that everything is wrong with Jonathan. The major reasons why they are after him and why they think they can and must get him out of the way by all means are, among others:
+The president is from a minority group in Nigeria.
+The president does not dole out free money to some self-appointed godfathers to be shared as was the case in the past.
+The president is some one who is humble, gentle and weak and so he cannot hurt a fly, hence, his political traducers must take undue advantage of him.
+They (rebels) are afraid that if the remarkable progress of his Transformation Agenda which has had positive impacts in the road constructions and maintenance, rail transportation, improved electric powers supply and the transparent reform through the privitisation of the sector, reforms in the oil sector, the revolutionary drive in the agricultural policies, the establishment and the spread of the Almajiri Schools and establishment of federal universities in which the north is the major beneficiary, among others, is not halted or distracted, his electoral value will be enhanced ahead of the 2015 to the disadvantage of his ambitious opponents.
+The president has tenaciously upheld the tenets and practice of the rule of law, party discipline, which is what has pitched the president and Tukur against unruly elements in the party. The national chairman of the party used to be paid by state governors and so they dictated the tune of the party, but when Tukur came, all that changed and because they are not paying him, they cannot dictate to him to do their bidding, they must be problem.
+The president is a detribalized Nigerian who, against the thinking of politicians, has ensured that federal projects and appointments are evenly distributed, even when it does not favour his people of the Niger Delta.
Like the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Alh. Abba Gana, observed in a recent interview, the rebel PDP splinter groups are over ambitious. According to him, “all of them want to be president of Nigeria and there is just one seat”, he said. To achieve their ambition, therefore, they must fight Jonathan by all means, hijack the party structure from his hands, pull down his government through major political distractions. 


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