President Goodluck Jonathan is coming across slowly as a master politician. He is gradually ‘fumbling’ and ‘bumbling’ his way back-to-back to the Presidential Villa. I won’t be surprised if, at the end of the day, he leaves his political adversaries gawking. His deft political moves lately (are), metaphorically speaking, putting him in the class of soccer legends. In football terms, his recent political dribbles equal that of soccer prodigy Lionel Messi.
In the 80s when Maradona was the king of the football pitch, General Babangida as Military President earned that sobriquet, ‘Maradona’ on account of his political dribbles that left politicians of that time gasping for breath. Babangida was suave. No one could anticipate his next move. With him at the helm in those exciting days, be rest assured that something was always in the offing. With Jonathan, Nigerians were rest assured that nothing was in the offing. He is easily predictable. He is everything Babangida was not as President. Nigerians in the informed class know our president only too well. They could anticipate his every move. For example, all of us know he would run for the 2015 presidential election. They know that he can’t bring oil thieves to book. They know that he can’t fight corruption even if symbolically. This was the ‘old’ Jonathan.
The ‘new’ Jonathan is on his way to the hall of dribbling fame. Yesterday’s sack by him, of Princess Stella Oduah of the BMW armoured cars fame and three other ministers was a masterstroke. It took an unbelieving nation by surprise. I was not astounded by the discharge of Godsday Oruebebe and Yarima Ngema. Both men barely masked their gubernatorial ambitions.
The ambition of Oruebebe for example, is ruffling a few feathers in his native Delta state. Old man Edwin Clark, the ‘Adedibu’ of Niger –Delta politics has expressed public disdain for Oruebebe. The former minister is clearly not Clark’s choice. I strongly suspect that Oruebebe will sooner be ‘cursed’ than be ‘blessed’ by the fire spitting Clark.
Ngema too, is known to have his eyes trained on government house Damaturu in his native Yobe state. So letting go of these ministers was the sensible thing to do. Their attention was divided. But Stella Oduah? The idea of her being ‘sacked’ by the president looked so remote as to invite the word ‘impossible’. This paper reported exclusively late last year that he was going to fire her to heed his security’s chief’s recommendations. So doing, they reasoned, was going to deflect the relentless bad publicity the scandal has attracted to the government. But at the eleventh hour, the president faltered. Instead, her ‘detractors’ were blamed. A massive ‘headhunt’ of the civil servant that leaked the offensive story was launched. The inability if the president to get rid of her made her power grew by leaps and possibly bounds.
Those in the ‘know’ said this of her-that she is ‘untouchable’. They said she was very close to the commander-in-chief. They cited the role she played as the treasurer of his campaign organization in 2011.Secondly she is a ‘princess, a ‘blue blood’ and therefore ,’superlative’. This bears stressing.
Recall, if you may, her swagger after the armoured vehicles’ purchase scandal broke. She was unfazed. A coterie of spin-doctors and jobbers was unleashed on anyone who dared to speak ill of her on account of the purchase. Because she was, still, is a Princess, more ‘razzmatazz’ was added to the ‘scare’ tactics. Her kith and kin threatened ‘fire’ and ‘brimstone’ if she were sacked. One social media promoter of the former minister incredibly argued that she did no wrong in the purchase of the cars at hyper inflated price and without a budget.
In the thick of the cacophony ,she jetted to Israel ahead of the President and almost ‘signed’ a bilateral air agreement on behalf of the country.
Yesterday’s sack was therefore, was jaw dropping. It would be the second time in 72 hours, the President ‘talked’ by his action.
On Monday he fired his erstwhile influential Chief of Staff Mike Oghiadomhe. Backdate that to last Thursday. He appointed substantive heads for three crucial government controlled media outlets. The top managers have been without substantive heads for months.
It would appear the president is on the ‘offensive’. The sack of Oghiadomhe and Oduah is a notice served that the man is now ‘talking’ and prepared to rid his path to the presidency of any obstacles. And the man is doing this quietly unobtrusively. The action says something of the him-that he is, after all, strategic. His traducers won’t acknowledge this, not even grudgingly. They like to dismiss the President as ‘clueless’. This is an unkind cut, uncharitable even. But then, traducers are not known to be ‘charitable’. Bashing the president is a full time career for them.
Insult, a heap of it, routinely hurled in the direction of under performing leaders is a cross they have to carry. And Jonathan had carried his stoically. A talking Jonathan is good news to the rest of us ordinary Nigerians mired into the ground by a larcenous bunch masquerading as ‘transformers’. If the President has been ‘talking’ like this, he probably wouldn’t have been that ‘clueless’. Over to the traducers. Evolve new strategies fast, he is on the offensive!