Political subterfuge, which has often made President Jonathan less vulnerable, is a unique asset that sets him apart from his political foes. He cannot be easily ambushed. This came in very handy as deputy governor to the convicted but now pardoned money launderer, Alamieseigha whom he replaced as governor of Bayelsa. He was an unobtrusive vice president who played deaf to all the madness around him when Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet hijacked the presidency during his stay in a Saudi hospital. Others fought the war to make him acting president and finally president. After the battle and victory, just as he was been prodded on by ex-President Obasanjo, his god father, who often wants to play god, to denounce the provisions of the PDP constitution and run for the presidency, a reticent self-effacing Jonathan publicly stated he did not want to be distracted from achieving the goal he had set for himself- completing Yar’Adua’s agenda and conducting a credible election where every vote would count. He equally kept those who had argued vigorously that he would be the man to beat in 2015 if he rejected the bait guessing.
He has again in the last three months maintained a dignified silence even as sycophants led by men of all seasons like Ebenezer Babatope, Iwuanyawu and Jerry Gana, gathered in Abuja to canonize him as ‘the God-ordained’, the ‘best that has ever happened to Nigeria’, the ‘leader that embodies all the virtues of our past heroes,’ a selfless leader without whom there would be no Nigeria, the liberator of Ijaw nation,; etc.
Even as members of Rivers House of Assembly converted the mace to weapon for breaking heads, as visiting northern governors were ambushed and stoned by thugs claiming to work for the president, as oil theft reached the highest height after multi-billion dollar contract to militants who now swear there would be no Nigeria except he runs in 2015, President Jonathan has continued to maintain his peace.
But Jonathan’s weakest link is those who constituted his public face. They have failed to complement his greatest asset. Instead of adding value to his presidency, they have made him more vulnerable. The current face off between the president and Governor Amaechi of Rivers seems to have unmasked the president either as a result of sabotage, the hall mark of PDP or share incompetence as demonstrated by Nyesom Wike, Dr Doyin Okupe, Dr..Ahmed Gulak, and even a supposedly seasoned bureaucrat like the Inspector General of police. It is curious why they all chose to deploy obsolete weapons to fight modern warfare over peoples’ minds.
Leading the league of those who claim to be fighting the president’s yet to be declared 2015 battle is the Nyesom Wike, the minister of state (education). By strange coincidence, the academic staffs of our polytechnics and the universities are on strike with millions of our youths roaming the streets due to the failure of government to honour an agreement it signed back in 2009. What has now emerged is that the minister in charge of the critical sector had in fact been mobilizing, kitting, and training youths, militants, and five members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to replicate a strategy deployed by a few federal government backed enemies of democracy in the western house of assembly in 1962, a misadventure that marked the beginning of the end of that republic. The only innovation is the ambush of visiting northern governors, who were pelted with stones.
Here is a former local council chairman, appointed chief of staff by Amaechi who later nominated him for a ministerial position. Now he is at war with Amaechi allegedly because he wants to be the next governor of Rivers. Even if the war is being surreptitiously fought to retain the presidency within South-south zone, as claimed by Austin Opara and some Rivers State federal legislators loyal to the president, there is surely a more creative way to win the support of the people of Rivers other than turning the state into a theatre of war. Then how does the stoning of four northern governors by hoodlums wearing the minister of education T-shirts promote the cause of the president re-election? If he secures the PDP ticket for a second term, can the votes from Rivers or even the whole of South-south zone secure the presidency for Jonathan? Or has the bungling President Jonathan foot soldiers foreclosed the possibility of his having to campaign in those four northern states whose governors were viciously attacked by hoodlums at the Port Harcourt airport?
The outing of Okupe whose appointment, critics claimed undermined the president battle against corruption, was no less disastrous. Since no man ever wins a woman’s war, we will be expecting too much to prevail on the president to curtail the alleged excesses of his wife. Neither Babangida, Yar Adua, nor a brasher Obasanjo in power was able to manage his wife. But Okupe, paid through the public purse to shield the president by balancing his narrow interest and that of his wife against the nation’s overall interest let down the president in his hours of need. As if bereft of new ideas, Okupe, adopting an obsolete strategy of repeating lies to make them appear as truth, assaulted the public with his claim about the president non involvement in the Rivers’ crisis in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The president’s wife admission that she indeed has an axe to grind with Amaechi over his treatment of her Okrika people has only confirmed critics who from onset predicted Okupe would be a liability to Jonathan’s presidency.
I have no doubt that Okupe knew a better strategy to shield the president would have been to descend heavily on the five legislators that behaved like thugs, distance the president from their crudity and violence, proclaim loudly that irrespective of the president’s political differences with his brother, the governor of Rivers, he would not subscribe to attempt by misguided thugs to derail our democracy. He could have boomed that the president is too decent to get involved in such an amateurish and lumbering attempt at impeaching a speaker. He could have threatened that the full weight of the law would be brought to bear on all those who caused mayhem in the Rivers House of Assembly. That could have bought Jonathan government of subterfuge time to plan for a renewed assault on Amaechi, their sworn foe and threat to 2015 president’s ambition. That would have been less offensive than grandstanding ‘President Jonathan is bigger than Amaechi’.
In the league of those who have failed to protect the president in the current Rivers crisis is the Inspector General of Police. The only thing that resonates from all the IG has said on the crisis is ‘he had not received official complaints against Joseph Mbu from River State. That was a Freudian slip. This was a man quoted on pages of newspapers and seen on television calling the governor names, boasting he was not inferior to the governor, dropping the name of the NSA. A resourceful crisis manger without prejudice to his own politics would have known the game was up the moment Mbu started to see himself as alternative governor of Rivers; he should have been summoned to Abuja, publicly scolded and reposted to Borno State where services of such commissioners of police are needed. If the objective of the IG was to sacrifice the nations’ democracy in order to protect the interest of the president, he could still have achieved the same less ennobling objective by quietly reposting a more intelligent, less abrasive but equally spiteful Abuja loyalist to keep Amaechi under surveillance in Port Harcourt.