Fire under the Umbrella,By Ali M Ali



pdplogoThere is, at the moment, an elaborate chess game in town. A kind of power game precipitated by rejects turning into cornerstones. Curiously, the president, Goodluck Jonathan, as the most powerful individual in the country is not part of it. At best he is an interested on looker. Frankly stated, he is a mere pawn in this game fit only for the Babas’ and the Maradonas. Yet it is about his personal ambition. An ambition so naked that the blind could see from miles away. This game is called ‘who flies the PDP flag in the 2015 election? That is the question.
Again, the question. Who flies the flag? A logical answer would be ‘Goodluck Jonathan’. There are several factors in his favour. Chief among them is incumbency. In our nation’s political lingo, “Incumbency” means using state resources to advance personal ambitions. It is the power to cheat without fear of being punished. The converted call it “impunity”. It is a word brought into national political discourse by the serial violation of the law by elements in PDP controlled governments. It is taken that the man at the helm aggregates the state. He is the state. The state is him. It is not uniquely Nigerian. It is probably African. No one dares the king. To do that is at one’s own peril. The King owns the state and all the resources there in.
I recall something profound General Buhari said soon after a couple of opposition parties fused into the All Progressive Congress APC and was registered. Buhari is famous for calling a spade exactly that- a spade. Some describe this tendency as a vice in the art of politics. Double –speak is the ‘palm oil’ with which ‘politics’ is eaten. Not so Buhari. He says what he means. And for the heck of it, he means what he says. The day Buhari speaks tongue-in-cheek; the rest of the political class is in deep trouble.
So in the wake of the euphoria of APC registration, Buhari brought enthusiasts back to earth and to reality. He said that the PDP has already fused with INEC and the Police. The sealing off of the Secretariat of the Baraje faction of the PDP is a testimony. The matter is in court and the fate of both factions undecided. It would appear that the Police probably acting from ‘orders from above’ interpreted Justice Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja order for ‘the status quo’ to remain as as declaring the ‘new’PDP illegal. We are in trouble. Again, the clearly partisan disposition of the Police in the Rivers imbroglio is another. The Police Commissioner Mr. Mbu’s partisanship in favour of the Abuja group has earned him accolades. His boss, the IGP, describes him as a ‘professional’ for taking sides.
By now, it is as certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west that Jonathan would run by 2015.Personally, he has kept mute. His body language is doing the talking. Unbeknown to him, he is predictable. Every of the president’s bumbling political move is anticipated by masters of the game. Not admitting in public that he would run in 2015 is the confirmation the masters needed to set to work. But his spokesmen have-and loudly too. Abati, Okupe and to a lesser extent, Maku are not the mouthpieces of ‘Project Jonathan 2015’.The real spokesmen are Clark, Dokuboh, Briggs and Kuku. All of them except probably Kuku are unrestrained when it comes to 2015 and Jonathan. At every opportunity these characters threaten and hurl insults to the rest of Nigerians who are not fellow tribesmen. Only last week Dokuboh spat fire. He is of the ill-considered opinion that his “ijaw” warrior President is handling the current feud rather too softly. He wonders why he can’t ‘crush’ the enemies. Before then, he has routinely threatened ‘war’ should Jonathan not get elected in 2015.His battle cries are loudest when he is broke and in need of financial ‘rehab’.
In 2010,Jonathan played the ‘disinterest’ card. And it worked pretty well for him. Most Nigerians, from civil rights organisations, to the vibrant media made a compelling case for him to assume full presidential powers in the wake of the debilitating ailment of then President Yar’adua. In came the ‘doctrine of necessity’. By May 2010 and with Yar’adua dead, nothing stood in the way of Jonathan except the rotation principle enshrined in the PDP constitution, to run for presidency.
Jonathan’s character as unworthy of trust began to manifest from that period. First he said he was not aware of the rotation principle. The records proved otherwise. In 2002,as deputy governor representing his boss, Jonathan personally signed the understanding that power will rotate between north and south.
Some of us raised fears that this man is too dangerous to let loose on the polity. This self-destruct disposition was not so much for what he was but ho he was and still is. Three years in the saddle has confirmed our suspicion that the man lacks the rudiments of statecraft to run a local government. We argued that a leader who would disregard party constitution would be desperate enough to desecrate the nation’s constitution.
In 2011,the President’s handlers were not content with good luck. They figured that taking matters into their own hand would do the trick. It did. Employing all manner of divisive sentiments, Jonathan was shoved down the throats of the unwary. For someone desirous for another shot of four years, he didn’t plan ahead of time.He failed to plant his own men especially among the governors’rank.Secondly he needlessly antagonized the barons of the PDP.
The PDP may have sprang from the bowels of G18; an assortment of ideologically polarized ‘bloody’ civilians but it really belongs to its governors now. They fund it. At the state level, they are its leaders. Jonathan should know this. He, after all, was from their ranks. His late boss too, was an ex governor. In the several battles of wits with members of the national assembly, the governors’ forum had triumphed over them. The selection of Namadi Sambo in 2010 as Vice President over Senator Ahmed Makarfi is a confirmation. The most visible gladiators in this current fight are the unhappy governors that go by the elegant name G5++. They, for the purpose of this discourse are tucked in the red corner. In the blue corner are the President’s men led by old man Bamanga Tukur.

Disregard any pretensions to the contrary. The present feud is all about who gets what in 2015 and beyond. It is not about the ordinary folks. Unless something really dramatic happens which is unlikely, Jonathan had better start packing. His platform is weakening by the day. In a power game like the current, he will need all his wits. Tragically, he doesn’t seem to have any. He is a total stranger to the cloak and dagger politics of the PDP.
For those in the dark, PDP stands for Peoples Democratic Party. Its founders conceived it as a ‘mass movement’ strong enough to put the military in check and permanently in the barracks. They think of it in the superlative. A ‘behemoth’ .The largest party in Africa. Some clown at the mini convention, a couple of days ago said of it as a ‘global’ having branches all over the world. This may be hyperbolic but its troubles are definitely local. At this juncture I couldn’t but agree with my very good friend Saddiq that the fire under the umbrella will consume the president and his 2015 ambition. I say a silent prayer. May the crisis blossom.

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