No Office For ‘Antagonists’,By Ali M Ali



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Interesting times are here. Two weeks ago on this page, I ended my piece “Fire under the umbrella” with a solemn silent prayer. I entreated that “may the crisis blossom’’. It has been answered. The fire under the umbrella is raging. On the surface, it seems to have abated. But this is politics. Nothing is what it seems. It is abracadabra all the way. In PDP, it is something like the more you see, the more you get perplexed. The serious minded don’t take politicians seriously. They see them as clownish masters of double –speak. A politician is someone who speaks through both sides of the mouth. When he says ‘yes’, he probably means ‘perhaps’. When he says ‘perhaps’, he definitely means ‘no’ and when he says ‘no’, he is certainly not a politician. On account of this, General Buhari has been repeatedly described as not ‘a politician’. Those who describe him as straight as an arrow do so with a certain degree of admiration. He calls a spade by its name-a spade. They say, that is the hallmark of a statesman not a politician.
With the make shift peace deal reached a few days ago between president and governors, I am tempted to think that the combatants would kiss and make up. Only the irredeemable pessimists would say there has not been a brave effort at reaching an understanding. There has been some measure of ‘ceasefire’ from both camps with the communiqué publicly read out by Governor Aliyu of Niger state a couple of days ago. Both sides agreed to a cessation of media hostility until October 7th when talks would resume. I happened to be in the class of the increasingly blooming ‘irredeemable pessimists’. Trusting Jonathan to respect any agreement is like asking a vulture to keep sentry over carcass. The prospects look so remote as to invite the word ‘impossible’. The President regrettably can’t be trusted to respect any agreement. His political history since he moved from the province to the centre is that of perfidy. I am pretty certain that the PDP governors presently locked in this grim duel with Jonathan are not mindless of his pattern of treachery.
Lets begin with the rotation principle enshrined in the PDP constitution. In 2002,Jonathan as deputy governor of Bayes state signed the agreement on behalf of his principal, the governor, Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha that PDP has agreed to rotate office of the President between North and South. It was in line with that understanding that outgoing President Obasanjo handed over to late Umaru Musa Yar’adua in 2007.The burden of office ultimately took its toll on the sickly Yar’adua who answered the ultimate call all mortals must answer in May 2010 just three short years in the saddle. It was from whence good luck smiled on Jonathan as he moved up the ladder from Vice President to acting President to active President in a space of six months!
Jonathan’s contempt for respecting agreements began to manifest from the time he sought to run for the office of the president. He cleared all ‘obstacles to that dream. First to be bludgeoned was party chair Vincent Ogbulafor who insisted that zoning remained and that the zone, which Yar’adua came from, would produce the president. Pronto, he was sent packing. Still dissatisfied, Jonathan played the ‘dumb’ card pretending that he was unaware of the agreement to rotate power. Suddenly the party constitution was derided that it was lesser on a scale of importance to the nation’s constitution and therefore, immaterial for Jonathan to consider. The northern governors in PDP kicked. They met in Kaduna and as politicians they reveled in double-speak. Listen to this: Zoning remains but Jonathan can run! Adamu Ciroma was more blunt. ”Jonathan can run,” he said but “not on PDP platform”.
Realizing that Jonathan couldn’t be stopped from desecrating party constitution, the PDP governors from the north most of whom were also going for their second and final term did the next logical thing-they extracted a promise from him that he would serve only one term. Jonathan publicly stated this at home and abroad. By then, it had became clear that buying a used car from our president one’s own peril. From that moment I had a sense of foreboding.
Repudiating party constitution was a tell tale sign that agreement to Jonathan is only a means to a not so noble end. It is no more worth than the paper it is written on. A leader not bond by his word is worse than a bandit. I am therefore, not in the least surprised that the president would flex his presidential muscles and ‘fire’ a couple of ministers from his grossly under performing cabinet. For a leader desirous of walking the talk of reconciliation with his estranged governors, that was, literally, hitting below the belt. Curiously all of the sacked ministers were nominees of the governors he is at loggerheads with. I have no quarrel with sacking of unimaginative aides. The President is the man with the mandate. Any body so appointed to the high office of minister is at his pleasure. What I find reprehensible was the excuse for the boot. It was insulting that they were so fired due to ‘under performance.’ Nigerians in the informed category know that this was a blatant half truth, outright lie even. There are so many of the minsters retained that their record of service is shatteringly depressing. In a serious country, the entire government of the day would have been sacked by mid term. All the promises made during electioneering campaign have remain what they were meant to be –slogans.
Mark my words, Before October 7th,President Jonathan will move to undermine the governors. Chances are that all the ‘settled issues ‘will be unbundled and unsettled. The day Jonathan respects any kind of agreement will be the day an elephant will fly!
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