On Having Our Heads Examined by Anenih By Azubuike Ishiekwene
Tony Anenih, chair of the board of trustees and one of the oracles of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, had harsh words for anyone from the south-south, who does not think that President Goodluck Jonathan deserves a second term. Such persons, he said, “should have their heads examined.”
At a meeting of leaders of the party from the zone on Friday, Anenih said, “Anybody, from the south south, whether governor or speaker or state chairman of the party or any other person (from the zone, I suppose) who does not understand the importance of supporting Jonathan should have his head examined because he (Jonathan) is eminently qualified for another term.”
If the new definition of sanity is turning a blind eye to what stares us in the face, then there isn’t a psychiatric hospital large enough for people from the south-south and, surely, for many decent Nigerians elsewhere. Jonathan is on his way out, in spite of Anenih. It doesn’t matter what Anenih says publicly, I can only hope that he’ll be honest enough to himself and the president to tell him the truth privately.
Sometime ago, Asari Dokubo, a former militant with a gift for following the money, warned that anyone opposed to Jonathan’s second term must be prepared to die. E. K. Clark has many versions of this threat too, a number of them hardly seasoned by his age. Kingsley Kuku, who dismissed Jonathan as hopeless during the Bayelsa governorship primaries in 2006, now says the Niger Delta would be made ungovernable if the president is not re-elected.
What does all of this mean? Whether or not the president is qualified to contest for a second term is a no brainer. That he finished off former President Umaru Yar’Adua’s first term does not mean that he is now in his own second term and therefore ineligible to contest. Nor do I believe that he is bound by a so-called secret agreement not to contest a second term. He has served one term and has the constitutional right to a second.
The question is, on what record? Even though Anenih and co would have us believe that Jonathan has delivered the moon on a stick, I’m sure they know we know better. It may be good politics to stand by your man, but it’s fart in the face to insist that we must endure another four years of Jona-mylitis. Let’s face it; it’s not about performance in the last three years or so. And Anenih knows. It’s not even about the promise of future performance. And Anenih knows. It’s about hope betrayed.
The unspoken motive in all of this – the real thing, which Anenih and co cannot tell the public plainly – is a feeling of entitlement based on tribe or region. Why should Jonathan not have a second term when presidents from other zones in Nigeria’s democratic history have had it? Is the rest of the country ganging up against him because he is from the “marginalised” south south? Why should his case be different?
In what ways has Jonathan’s presidency really profited the south south? Ok, Tompolo has helped himself handsomely to government patronage, as have Dokubo and factions of the ex-militants, many of who now occupy permanent suites at the executive wing of Abuja’s Transcorp Hilton. In Bayelsa State, the president’s wife has been promoted to the position of permanent secretary, and the president’s protégée has also emerged governor. On top of that, an Italian company built a brand new church donated to the president’s hometown in Otuoke and, nine months later, businessmen raised N6billion for another church there.
Apart from this exclusive club, which obviously includes the cabal that steals $2billion worth of crude oil monthly, the south south has never been more divided than it is under Jonathan’s presidency: the Sagbama and Ekeremo think the Ogbia and Epie never had it so good, the Kolokuma think they are treated as outsiders, and don’t mind Clark, the Delta Ijaws grumble that they are treated as distant cousins. As for the wider circle of non-Ijaws, the experience of the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, at the hands of his “mother” and fellow south southerner tells the story.
Are we to have our heads examined because we insist that if merit were to count – and it should – the south south and indeed any other part of the country can produce a president who knows what it means to be president? Anenih would recall that even in December 2008 when he was making a strong case for Yar’Adua to continue, with copious examples about presidents from all over the world who had returned from the dead to rule their countries, a number of Nigerians, including this newspaper, argued that Yar’Adua should come clean about his health and step down for Jonathan, who was then his deputy.
Like many Nigerians at the time, I supported Jonathan against all odds. Not because I’m from the south south, but because I was convinced that it was the right thing to do – and believed he could do the job. But even from recent elections, the verdict by voters on the PDP from Anenih’s home base in Esanland to Jonathan’s base in Rivers/Bayelsa is rejection of a party in rapid decline from failed promises and hope betrayed. Anenih knows.
Are there more jobs today? Is electricity supply better? Is life safer? Are fewer mothers dying at childbirth? Are more children in school? Have corruption and impunity declined? Are Nigerians better off under Jonathan? Perhaps in Aso Rock – and in the pockets of those that would have our heads examined. But the rest of us without a silver foot in our mouths know where the shoe pinches.
What’s This Suntanned Joke In Taraba?
Sometime ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Ariel Suntai Sharon,” in which I tried to explore the absurdity of insisting that a terribly ill leader must continue to stay in power, even when a fool can see the futility. I derived the name soup from the Taraba State governor, Danbaba Suntai; and the 84-year-old former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for seven years now.
As I said then, if Sharon were a Nigerian politician, not only would he still be signing budgets, his aides would tell us that he still uses the treadmill twice daily. But since Sharon is not a Nigerian politician, two prime ministers have since succeeded him. Can you imagine someone telling us that Suntai, who was carried off the aircraft only on Sunday and who gave something like a speech on Wednesday, is running rings round the state with mass sackings? Why are they doing this to the man? Why? If those who put us through this wrench under Yar’Adua had been punished, we won’t have a repeat of this circus so soon afterwards.
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