Between Jonathan, Mimiko and Obi

Politics either as a pursuit of power to establish order and justice, or to resolve conflicts over cultural differences and the sharing of scarce resources in society, is a noble calling. Unfortunately because of the distasteful activities of some members of Nigeria governing elite since the outset of the fourth republic, many have come to regard politics as an ignoble vocation where principles and honour are routinely traded for political expediency and where the end justifies the means. The events in the last one week tend to give ammunition to those who erroneously view all politicians as scoundrels who wallow in corruption and other forms of immoral behaviour. For instance, after two years of playing the ostrich, President Jonathan has finally admitted that he was going to contest. Similarly, a serial ‘cross-carpeter’, Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo whose re-election Obasanjo had alleged, was supported by President Jonathan at the expense of his party’s candidate as a trade-off for future support for his ambition, exhibited an art he has perfected – trading for positions Then Peter Obi, erstwhile APGA governor of Anambra who boasted of having installed another APGA governor, an installation many Nigerians know was aided by the president, decamped to work for the president’s re-election.

Most Nigerians were not taken by surprise when newspapers’ reports late last week claimed that “President Jonathan has moved to formalise his re-election process with the constitution of a declaration committee” in order to beat an ultimatum from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party that had already adopted and endorsed him as its sole candidate. The endorsement followed a circus show around the country during which about eight million signatures (half of which came from South-south and South-east) of Nigerians who earnestly yearned for Jonathan’s re-election, were claimed to have been secured. That also was preceded by TAN’s deployment of billions of naira for subliminal media campaigns for the battle for our minds and to tell the public-about the president’s imaginary giant strides in the departments of power generation, rehabilitation of roads and rail lines and his war against Boko Haram which we were told he had fought to a standstill, even with over 200 girls abducted from their schools six months ago still marooned in Sambisa caves.

This was followed by further assault on our sensibilities. Mimiko who was a health commissioner in the Alliance for Democracy government of Adebayo Adefarati before defecting to PDP to serve as secretary to government of Olusegun Agagu from where he defected to Labour to become a governor, has like a trader haggling for the best bargain once again decamped. This was after swearing many times he would not join the PDP, publicly proclaiming “We are irrevocably committed to the true ideal of progressive politics which the (Labour) party truly represents”, and in fact went further to tell newsmen after the Labour National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting, in Abuja on Wednesday, September 10, that his reported plan to defect to the PDP, was a rumour. The same politician on October 2, twenty-two days after this solemn declaration, turned up in the presidential Villa, Abuja to make a formal declaration of defection to PDP at an event presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo.

And finally, Peter Obi whose spirit was with PDP while publicly adorning the cloak of APGA to fulfil all righteousness while Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was alive dumped the party. Without any feeling of remorse, he went on to remind the PDP team that came to induct him that “I have in the past worked closely with all of you and you know my belief about our zone working together. I assure you that we will continue to work even closer as a team in the interest of our people.” Hise followed up that confession of having led a double life, by telling Bianca Ojukwu, the wife of his benefactor that he was defecting to PDP, “a place where his contributions towards proper representation of the Igbo will have the level of impact that will make Ikemba rejoice in his grave”.

But when Obasanjo, the oracle of Owu who is today probably laughing us to scorn foretold the tales of these politicians who have defined politics in their own image, we left the message and attacked the messenger. Many Nigerians have probably forgotten that Obasanjo told Jonathan that it would be immoral for him to seek re-election in 2015. He had anchored his argument on PDP constitution as well as the understanding the president reached with northern governors. According to Obasanjo, Governor Suswam first told him that President Jonathan “had accepted a one-term presidency to allow for ease of getting support across the board in the North”. Obasanjo also claimed Jonathan confirmed to him that as ‘a strong believer in a one-term of six years Presidency’, the unexpired time of his predecessor and the four years of his first term, would have almost made up six years and would not need any more term or time’. On the account of this, Obasanjo had justified his stand in his famous letter to his godson on the importance of ‘trust and honour as important ingredients of character’.

We must not allow the noisy sound beats from the drums of those engaged in the business of drafting the president to stifle the quest by a few for the president’s explanation He is at liberty to renege on previous agreement if indeed there was any in the face of new realities. But in an election season, he owes those cynical Nigerians who have always insisted Nigerian politicians have no souls some explanation if only to show he is different.

And now that the President will need the support of all Nigerians beyond his Ijaw nation, I also think in the same spirit, he will need to disabuse the minds of all Nigerians by debunking Obasanjo’s claims that he has been  exploiting ‘sentiments and emotions of religion and ethnicity’ which he said ‘ was self-serving, unpatriotic and mischievous,’ and would amount to  ‘preying on dangerous emotive issues that can ignite uncontrollable passion and destabilise if not destroy our country”.  Today except during the crisis leading to the civil war, Nigeria has never been more divided along the lines of religion and ethnicity. President Jonathan and his party have curiously given the impression that PDP, made up of dealers and wheelers who would not even consider an aircraft owned by CAN president too sacred to, as government detractor’s claim, launder, US$15 million to South Africa while labeling the opposition APC as the party for Muslims and the sponsors of Boko Haram. It is most unlikely the president can win a re-election contest with only the votes of his Christian supporters; it is also not likely he can achieve the same objective with South-south and South-east votes where economic parasites and militant warlords-turned government contractors have been acting as if they alone can secure victory for the president.

Beyond this, the president, also needs to be reminded as 2015 approaches, that surrounding himself with leaders without character will be counter-productive. I think it is a myth to assume that in a free and fair election, such men can mobilise votes in places where people have always been known to exhibit independent voting behaviour. The outcomes of the last election in both Ondo and Anambra, whose governor and ex-governor have been falling over each other to secure a place in the presidential election committee have been adjudged heavily flawed even by INEC. A repeat of what happened in the two states or deployment of thousands of military, police and other security personnel to intimidate and arrest opposition leaders on the eve of election as was done in Ekiti and Osun will only undermine the legitimacy of the outcome of the exercise.

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