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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Jonathan’s many wars

Jonathan’s many wars
By Dapo Thomas

Fortune has played its part in the life of Goodluck Jonathan by investing him as the President of the most populous country in Africa. Overwhelmed by his dramatic emergence as one of the most powerful individuals in the world, Jonathan, a once-shoeless little boy from the village of Otuoke in Bayelsa State, is flummoxed by the enormous power at his disposal. Of all the reasonable and positive things one can do with power, Jonathan’s convenient choice was to wield power with benevolent violations, camouflaged despotism, hypocritical simplicity and stuck-up humility.
Jonathan’s lust and desperation for power, ossified by a siege mentality that is induced by background complex, is responsible for his unseemingly approach to political orthodoxies. The Jonathan Presidency is fast losing its moral direction because of its many contentious engagements with disparate entities of the polity.  The only one the Presidency is not fighting is itself.
With the audacious and brazen looting going on in Jonathan’s administration, why should the citizenry who are the victims of the misery created by the extraordinary corruption in government, not protest or be at war with Jonathan and his team? Sampler of corruption catechisms of the administration is reproduced for emotive reflections.
The House of Representatives is already probing the NNPC for improper remittances. For instance, it was alleged that the value for crude oil sales from January to August 2013 stood at $20.7bn but the NNPC only remitted $7billion to the federation account. Now, the Jonathan ‘rats’ had swallowed $13.9bn that could be utilized for the good of the people and the country. Don’t even bother to do the naira conversion, it could be outrageous.
Speaking at the 18th Nigerian Economic Summit last year December, the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed that some oil marketers fraudulently collected N232b from the Federal Government as fuel subsidy. Since last year, there has been no single conviction. Those who paid fraudulently and those who collected fraudulently are walking freely around town mocking the rest of us for our unprofitable piety.
The Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, Rotimi Amaechi, threw another bombshell when he declared at the second annual retreat of the state chief executives that took place in Sokoto on November 16, this year that the EFCC should investigate how $5b got missing from the Excess Crude Account.  According to him, the ECA stood at $9 billion last January only to shrink to $4 billion by November 2013.
The Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah was accused of spending N255 million on just two cars. Her case has been moving from one panel to the other yet no action has been taken against her. She still goes to her office as if nothing had happened.
For the greater part of his administration’s tenure to date, Jonathan has been engaged in serious battle with the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi. Though the President has not been involved in any direct physical confrontation with Amaechi, there is no doubt that he is doing so by proxy. The Inspector General of Police, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, the State Commissioner of Police Mbu Joseph Mbu and the Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who are the field soldiers in the Jonathan-Amaechi conflict, have been doing so at Jonathan’s behest.
Before Jonathan kicked out Timipre Sylva and invested Seriake Dickson as the governor of Bayelsa State, there was cordial relationship and peace in that part of the Niger Delta, and particularly between Bayelsa and Rivers State. But one morning, after Dickson “mounted the throne”, the people of Rivers State woke up to discover that Soku, a territory that belonged to the Kalabari Kingdom in Rivers State, had been ceded to Bayelsa by the National Boundary Commission.  Soku is the place where the Rivers people have some of their oil wells. By that cession, the oil wells of Rivers now belong to Bayelsa. When the Rivers people protested, the Federal government promised to look into it. The agreement was to keep the money accruing from the wells in an escrow account while waiting for the resolution of the territorial dispute. But astonishingly, the federal government, through some of its agencies, released Rivers State’s N17 billion in the escrow account to Bayelsa. State. Besides, for the month of October, 2013, Rivers State’s N19 billion monthly allocation from the Federation account was slashed by N5 billion. The President did all these and nobody is questioning him and challenging his arbitrariness.
Having tinkered with the harmony between the Bayelsa and Rivers people, the President took the war to his own party – PDP. Consequent upon the unacceptable actions and attitude of the Chairman of the Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, a faction tagged New Peoples Democratic Party, (nPDP) emerged within the party with the G7 boosting its membership. The faction, headed by Alhaji Kawu Baraje, comprised the governors of Rivers (Amaechi), Kwara (Abdulfatah Ahmed), Kano (Kwankwaso), Sokoto (Wamakko), Adamawa (Nyako),Niger (Aliyu) and Jigawa (Lamido).
Exhibiting its political immaturity and intolerance, the Jonathan administration’s immediate reaction was to  seal off the faction’s office, to issue demolition notices to the houses of its supporters, to revoke contracts already given to some of its members, to remove all the ministers loyal to members of the faction and to threaten the members of the faction with expulsion from the party. The President met with the G7 on two or three occasions but because there was no sincerity and commitment to the reconciliation, the meetings ended in stalemate until the faction and five of the G7 merged with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to strengthen the opposition against Jonathan’s administration.  Now to ASUU. University lecturers had been on strike since July 1, 2013. Series of meetings had been held and it looked as if the dispute was about to be resolved when the President met with ASUU national officers for almost 13 hours. But unexpectedly, ASUU came back with 3 conditions that the Federal Government must meet. Arrogantly, the government rejected the conditions and the Federal Government, through the Minister of Education Nyesom Wike, issued an ultimatum to all striking lecturers.  Amplifying Wike’s position, the President expressed his disappointment  and short of asking ASUU to prepare for war, vowed not to shift grounds except on the deadline which clashed with the burial ceremonies of Prof. Festus Iyayi of the University of Benin. Here again, the President fumbled. It is all about strategy, wisdom and approach.
Before ASUU, there was the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF). The governors’ forum was a platform for all the state governors to exchange ideas, discuss issues of mutual interest, relate together as one irrespective of party and political differences, strategize on how to approach the federal government on issues of common interest and explore the possibilities of socio-political interaction among themselves as different from integration. The President was not comfortable with Amaechi’s leadership of the NGF. Therefore, when their plan to remove Amaechi failed, Jonathan and Jang decided to paralyse the activities and operations of the NGF.
The state governors too have their own problems with the President. Their monthly revenue allocations are now regularly tampered with without explanations. Some of them lose as much as N3 billion, N4 billion, N5 billion every month and this has been affecting their capital projects and even their recurrent expenditure. Some of them cannot even meet their financial commitments to banks and contractors. Is it that the President does not understand the meaning of federalism or it is a ploy by him to force the governors to kowtow?
The Jonathan Presidency is encumbered by so many red herrings and fictional adversaries scripted by corridor parasites to exploit their principal’s obsession with maximum power. A government haunted by obstacle-siege is susceptible to political opportunism and manipulative tendencies. This is why Jonathan sees war where there is none. Every opposition is fantazied as a dangerous enemy that should be paralyzed and neutralized.
The understanding we have of leadership in Africa is purblind and shallow. Our leaders attach importance to how long they stay in office thinking that this is all that matters in history. Yet, we have seen leaders like Mahatma Ghandi, George Washington and Nelson Mandela whose sojourn in power was very short but have been treated well by history because of the quality leadership they exemplified. Some leaders never even had any encounter with political power yet they emerged favourites of history because of the ideas they propagated, the ideology they promoted and the principle they stood for. Martin Luther King (Jnr.) falls into this category. But people like Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Idi Amin of Uganda and Muamar Ghadaffi of Libya, ruled for decades only for history to record them as symbols   of evil.  Of what value to Jonathan is long tenure in power that history will justly present as a template for reprobate governance?
The Jonathan Presidency is a precedent for all that is abominable in leadership.


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