Like godfather like godson; President Goodluck Jonathan, it seems, likes to live in political self-denial, just like his presently estranged godfather and erstwhile benefactor, former president, General Olusegun Obasanjo. We are all too familiar, aren’t we, with the incredible denial by the former president that he ever even contemplated a third term agenda, much less want one. God, he has repeatedly said, has never denied him whatever he wanted. So if he had wanted a third term God, presumably, would’ve had no choice but give it to him. Therefore all those who had accused him of wanting to carry on beyond 2007, he has said to everyone who cared to listen, were nothing but malicious mischief makers.
Like his estranged godfather, President Jonathan has been accusing anyone who says he has since made up his mind to contest the 2015 presidential election as a malicious mischief maker, possibly worse. He is too busy fulfilling the peoples’ mandate, he says, to have time to think of any re-election. Yet anyone with half an eye, indeed even someone with no eyes at all, must have the most credulous mind not to see through the president’s denial as so much hogwash.
Proofs that our president not only wants a second term – some would say a third, because he has already been sworn in twice as president – but does so desperately are ten a kobo. However the two most glaring are the absurd drama that has surrounded the recent election of the chairmanship of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the authoritative lead story in the penultimate Monday’s edition of Thisday (June 10) about moves by the presidency to kill the Senate’s constitutional proposal for a six-year, single-term limit for the president and governors in place of the current four-year, two term limit.
Actually it’s a misnomer to refer to the proposal as Senate’s, simple reason being it originated from the presidency itself. It’s hard, if not impossible, to find a more classic case than this one of the curse, arguably of Chinese origin, that one should be careful what one wishes for lest it comes true.
First, when the presidency set up its constitutional amendment committee last year under former Chief Justice of the country, Justice Alfa Modibbo Belgore, members agreed that the committee should not waste time revisiting a number of issues that had been settled by a similar committee under President Obasanjo. Top of these was the issue of the four-year, two-term executive term limit. A minority, reportedly with the backing of the presidency, tried forcefully to change the provision to five- or six-year single term. It failed.
Undeterred, the presidency sent an executive bill to the National Assembly still proposing same. This was in spite of the fact that during the nation-wide tour by the National Assembly committee on constitutional amendment to gauge public opinion, the idea was roundly rejected in all the six geo-political zones in the country, including the president’s South-South. The change was necessary, it had argued, because it would concentrate the minds of incumbents on the job at hand and save the country the corruption, sweat, tears and blood that has characterised elections under the status quo. Seemingly sensible arguments at first glance, but so much nonsense when you look again. (But this is a matter for possibly another day).
It is this executive bill the presidency, according to Thisday, has now made a volte-face about. Obviously, the presidency was not careful enough in making this wish; apparently it did not think that it was possible to get its wish in a form it would not like. Which was exactly what happened; the Senate granted its wish, alright. But then it exempted the president and first term governors from being beneficiaries.
Clearly the Senate’s caveat has exposed the motive of the presidency’s attempt to force the issue since last year as purely selfish. It has also helped in no small way to expose the presidency’s repeated denial that the incumbent wants to stay put beyond 2015 as untenable.
What is true of the presidency’s attempt to kill its own bill is perhaps even truer of the absurd drama that has surrounded the recent election of the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. Few arguments, if any, can be more ridiculous than those offered by the governors who have rejected the election last month of Governor Rotimi Amaechi as the forum’s chairman.
The rejectionist camp of 16 governors led by the factional chairman, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau, says the election of Amaechi by 19 votes against Jang’s 16 was in violation of the forum’s tradition of choosing its chair by consensus rather than through election. The camp also says by an understanding, the chair was supposed to have rotated back to the North after Amaechi had served two years. It also says the score-line did not reflect an earlier unanimous endorsement of Jang by the 19 Northern governors.
The one simple answer to the first two arguments is, if the rejectionists knew all these, why did they participate in the election at all? Why, in the first place, did they not reject it outright the first time it was proposed last year and instead merely postponed it twice? Was it not because they were not sure they would make the numbers back then? Is it then not a mark of poor sportsmanship to reject the result simply because they calculated wrongly that this time they had the numbers?
As for the last argument about the immorality of breaching agreements, where were they when the president and his erstwhile benefactor repudiated a written agreement written in black and white about rotation and power shift between the North and the South which both of them had signed? Chickens, it seems, have this nasty habit of always coming home to roost!
The leading rejectionist, it would appear, is Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State. So strong was his feeling about what he said was the immorality of some of his colleagues going back on their endorsement of Jang that he announced he was resigning from the Northern States Governors’ Forum for the remaining two years of his office. “By my own culture, background and religion,” he said, “I believed that whatever is agreed upon, we must stand by it unless it is illegal.”
Coming from someone who won his office on one party platform only to abandon it for another so soon after his election and without any consultations with those who voted for him, this is indeed very rich.
Untenable and ridiculous as the rejection of the election of Amaechi as chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum is it does not begin to compare in its hilarity to the presidency’s claim through its spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, that it had no interest whatsoever in who got elected. If the presidency had no interest in the matter why was it quick, too quick, to receive Jang in the presidential villa as the new chair? And, except for a presidency that thrives in self-denial, who does not know that it lost the contest essentially because in its desperation to replace Amaechi at all costs it could not even make up its mind who to substitute him with?
The presidency should stop pretending that good governance rather than the 2015 elections remains its priority – that is, if it ever was.
Re: Mamman Kontagora
I have read your tribute to late Mamman Kontagora who was a blessing to this country during his life time. May his soul rest in peace. However, the PTF of Gen Abacha’s regime you mentioned in the tribute was Petroleum Trust Fund not Petroleum Task Force as you said.
Adewuyi Adegbite, Ogbomoso, Oyo State. +2347013065440.
Reference your tribute to the late Maj-Gen Mamman Kontagora. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that he was Minister of Works between 1987 & 1993 not 1993 & 1995 as you said. Ahmed, Abuja. +2348020756861.
Refer to you Wednesday’s tribute on General Mamman Tsoho Kontagora. You left out one aspect of his national assignment; he also served as Chairman, Presidential Committee on Stadia Development (between 1993 and 1995), in preparation for the hosting for the first time, World Youth Cup championship. It was successful.
I’m a son-in-law to late Gen Kontagora, married to Ramatu, one of his daughters. May Allah (SWT) forgive him. Contrary to what you said, his mother was Hausa while his father was Nupe.
Muhammad Shuaibu Umar. +2348079975555.
In my piece last week on my thoughts from Amman, I gave the population of Jordan of which the city is the capital as over two million. The figure was wrong. Jordan’s population, according to the World Bank’s The Little Data Book was 5.7 million in2009. With a population growth rate of 3.2% annually it is probably 6.4 million today.