Abati And The ‘Seeds of Discord’,By Ali M Ali



Abati 600Last Tuesday, (Peoples Daily) reported exclusively that President Jonathan had sought to break fast with former military President General Ibrahim Babangida in his Hill top residence. Quiet wisely, the latter turned down the request of the former at the eleventh hour citing certain protocol breaches as excuse. Key among them was the absence of the governor of the state Babangida Aliyu.
Any sensible person with considerable political clout in Babangida position would do just that. A private visit by Jonathan at this time when his rating is all time low is like the kiss of death. It is terminally contagious. Except for the heavily immunized against the political virus afflicting the president like Chief Obasanjo, I dread the aftermath.
Understandably, an ordinarily amiable Reuben Abati, the president’s mouthpiece and possibly sidekick was livid with rage. He dismissed the story, in a strong worded rebuttal, as the editors’ fiction possibly fabricated in a drunken stupor. He didn’t stop at that. He called it ‘arrant falsehood’ and “a further manifestation of a continuing effort to sow the seeds of discord in the polity.”
At this precise point, I became alarmed that the job of polishing bronze to shine like gold has taken its toll on the man. Educate me please. How could the news of a former leader shutting his door to a current leader amount to sowing ‘‘the seeds of discord?”
Juxtapose the measured language and finesse in the rebuttal of the same story by the IBB camp, you could not but agree with Soyinka about ‘taking the hippopotamus away from the swamp and not taking the swamp out of the hippopotamus’. The difference is as clear as daylight and nightfall.
Almost everyday, aggrieved interests challenged and refute stories published by newspapers. None accused the papers of ‘sowing the seeds of discord’. Among the severally and repeatedly maligned interests is Atiku Abubakar.
Few political leaders in the current Republic have been so misrepresented and maligned as the former Vice President. But his media handlers have always had the grace to be graceful in rebutting or refuting the misleading story. Not so the Jonathan people. It is always ‘combat’.
Could it be that Abati has lost his swagger as the urbane columnist that told truth to power and had become just another grumpy aide jostling for the king’s recognition? Given the history of this government, ”sowing the seeds of discord” is natural to it.
Pray tell, what is the difference between Obasanjo and IBB? Both are retired Generals. Both live on Hilltops. Both are former Presidents.
Both are patriots no doubt. They have their civil war scars to show for their undulating love for country. So what is the difference? SHAME, if you asked me. By self-admission, Obasanjo shocked not a few that he is lacking in shame, that nothing embarrasses him.Babangida is yet to get there. May he never get there.
I would be pretty ashamed as a patriot who fought a civil war to host a sectional president like Jonathan. In actions and thoughts, he has severally betrayed condemnable traits of sectionalism. In 2010 for instance, he stoutly defended MEND for the murderous action of detonating bombs on Independence Day. The group claimed responsibility of their terror act but the president dismissed it with a strut insisting that MEND were his ‘people’ and that they were not ‘terrorists’.
Henry Okah, the mastermind is presently cooling his feet in a South African jail for his role. He made damning claims linking top shots in the presidency to the plot to blame certain people for the tragic blasts. Curiously all of them were from the north.
Fast-forward to January 2012.The President chose the church to announce that elements of Boko Haram have infiltrated his government. We were astounded. How could the president make such weighty declaration in a place of worship and not at a Security Council meeting where all his top military commanders would be in attendence? Not to worry. Our president is a ‘transformative’ leader.
At once, elements who do not go to church including military and police commanders became suspects.
Currently, there is no love lost between Jonathan and Aliyu. Disregard any public pretension to the contrary. The feud is real. It is wholly or partly about 2015. As chair of the Northern Governors’ forum, the loquacious chief servant of Niger state was the one that publicly let the cat out of the bag that the governors agreed to a deal that Jonathan would serve only one term. With this understanding they supported him in 2011.Some of them didn’t reckon that the president could defile the office he occupies with grand perfidy.
President and governor are currently engaged in shadow boxing. A kind of battle of wits. Most northern governors except Jang and Yuguda are solidly behind Aliyu. Most PDP governors are shakily behind the President. The governors’ forum election has seared the body to the bottom with 16 votes greater than 19.Who planted the ‘seed of discord?’
Jonathan might not have personally said it, but his body language is speaking loudly about this blinding obsession to run for the nation’s plum in 2015. Concession and engagement with all the critical groups got him the job in 2010 and 2011.This time, threats of Armageddon unless elected are driving the ambition. It is truly baffling. The tail is wagging the dog.
All his known foot soldiers have been set loose to that effect. They are a mixed breed. And expectedly from the President’s backyard. Check them out. Old man Clark leads the pack. Kindergarten soldier Dokuboh leads the militant wing. Presidential adviser Kuku leads the ‘urbane’ group. The agitation by the ijaw ‘nation’ to keep their son willy-nilly in the cozy chambers of power beyond the next general polls is gender sensitive. That is why Anne Briggs is also running from pillar to post literally ‘smoking’ that unless Jonathan returns, the region would hoard its oil resource and the rest of the country can go jump into the lagoon of penury. We, not blessed with oil and lacking in revenue sources, may as well starve for all she cared.
Seated at this table of debauchery encouraged by a sickeningly divisive president are destitute elements outside Jonathan’s enclave seeking crumbs and political relevance. One recent example is Abba Gana, former FCT minister. A couple of days ago, he played Dokuboh. He pointedly told the most restive anti –Jonathan 2015 to ‘forget’ it. His contention is that the region is not ‘prepared’. Others are Onoja, Birmah. Gulak. Enough of the roll call to the hall of infamy. I could go on. The list of Jonathan-must-continue orchestra is as long as the treachery of his kitchen cabinet.
An educated guess can explain why otherwise sane men in full control of their thinking faculties would choose the path of political odium. They are broke or seeking political cover to escape or get even with some local political enmity.
Factual reportage is sacrosanct. In this paper, we don’t just go to town unless we are certain the story is real. We don’t ascribe our failings to others. “Sowing the seeds of discord” is not our mantra. Abati had better look inwards!

Ali M Ali ,is a columnist and COO,Peoples Daily

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