Amaechi’s Jet And Jonathan’s Jester By Aku Igono
It was 1999 when General Abdulsalam Abubakar, the then military head of state decided it was time to return ‘power’ to the people, after over 30 years of gruelling military domination. He did. The baton was handed to another retired general who obviously was not tired.
In came president Olusegun Obasanjo following political permutations and realignments to pacify the South-West region over the denial of electoral mandate and eventual death of Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO), the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election.
The Northern power block decided to pull Obasanjo from Adamawa prison to vie for the number one seat in the land on a newly formed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was heavily made up of elements from Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM); the political machine of the late General Shehu Yar’Adua. The Jos meeting gave Obasanjo the presidential ticket of the party.
On his way to winning the general elections, he picked, as his running mate, Atiku Abubakar, a retired Customs Officer from Adamawa State who had coincidentally, just won the 1999 gubernatorial elections to serve as Governor of the North-East State. The politics of picking Atiku Abubakar as Obasanjo’s running mate was never too far from his position as the heir apparent and god-son of the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the founder and benefactor of the PDM machine.
Atiku Abubakar had barely settled down to his mandate as Governor of Adamawa State when Obasanjo came calling. He obliged to deputise him. He was powerful. The appreciation of his political clout and charisma won him the president’s trust to handle domestic affairs, by extension, to be the liaison officer between state governors and even cabinet ministers and his government. The romance was a beautiful one for democratic stability and culture. But, one of the negative effects of that healthy romance then has a direct effect and portends a greater threat to democracy today: Succession Paranoia.
I’m one person who never believed that Jonathan became president out of sheer providence or what you guys call good luck. He is a product of the Obasanjo and Atiku fiasco of 2007. No one wins elections on mere luck. Obama had to match figures with realities to convince Americans in other to return to the White House. He wouldn’t have been ‘good-lucky’. The story is not different in Britain or France with Cameron or Hollande respectively. No, good luck doesn’t cut cheese here!
After a successful first term, Obasanjo, who was interested in a second term realised that his fate and victory squarely rest on Atiku’s feet. As a dogged politician however, Atiku wanted to succeed him at that time too. He made Obasanjo beg; he made him kneel. An ambitious Atiku soft pedalled. And the vengeful Obasanjo returned as president.
Fast-ward to 2007, Obasanjo was completing his 2nd term, which means leaving the stage and it was time to make Atiku beg; payback time. He kept his cool and everyone showed interest to succeed him, but except the sick Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and a relatively mien and unknown Goodluck Jonathan. This is when party politics took the centre stage in our democratic journey.
The rest is history. Yaradua and Jonathan won; Yaradua died and Jonathan succeeded him. He sought a fresh mandate in 2011 and he won or did he win? During electioneering campaign for 2011 election, he told everyone he was only running for one term. I heard him. It was Dalhatu Tafida, the DG Jonathan/Sambo Campaign organisation, who first let the world into the working of the president’s mind. He said the president won’t seek another term in 2015. Then in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Jonathan attended an African Union Summit; the president himself told the Nigerian community there that he will not be running for election in 2015.
Just 2 years into his fresh mandate and after that declaration, he is already clearing grounds for re-election. And like his former boss, he is willing to crush anything that cogs his wheels of political vehicle. That’s where Gov. Amaechi comes in. I had to go through the lengthy background just for you to grasp the present spat between President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.
In the narrated background, it was between a President and his Vice. But in this case, it’s between a president and a sitting Governor of his wife’s state of origin. So grab your chair we are about to see a replay of similar drama.
Amaechi’s undoing is his eloquence and his opinionated character. This government doesn’t appreciate that. You don’t dare speak up against the transformation government. It’s dis-transformational.
I wasn’t shocked when news broke out over the weekend that Amaechi’s jet was grounded in Akure, the Ondo state capital. The Governor, the Speaker of House of Representatives and some government officials were on their way from the burial of the late Ekiti State Deputy Governor; a fine woman who should be allowed to rest in peace after losing a protracted and tough battle with cancer. Amaechi shouldn’t have attended the burial of the late ACN Ekiti Deputy Governor because he is of the PDP, Amaechi was just over reaching his boundaries as the chairman of NGF and his wings needed to be clipped.
That disgraceful act in Akure is condemnable and a threat to security. I’m not holding briefs for Amaechi, but for the authority of his office. The jet is owned by Rivers people. The people Amaechi governs. The jet is to Amaechi what the president’s over-bloated
fleets are to him. This executive harassment in the name of 2015 should be nipped in the bud.
I do not want to know who is playing to the gallery; Amaechi or Jonathan. But what I want to protest is playing politics with offices that will outlive both of them. All fingers are pointed at President Jonathan for he has engaged in more domestic and minor spat in the past. He had allowed himself to be dragged into local politics. We cannot acquit him.
The other day it was the National Security Adviser harassing the Rivers State Commissioner of Information to add substance to their allegation that some choppers were purchased to campaign against Jonathan in 2015. That is pettiness. Amaechi is a citizen of Nigeria.
If he wishes to present himself for presidency in 2015, so be it! And if Jonathan is interested, which is obvious he is, he should do what will win him more votes and stop this harassment. He knows when and where to meet Amaechi: 2015 and at the poll!
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