What if Jonathan Does not Run? By Fola Ojo
The uproars and verbal fireballs that have recently engulfed political discourse in Nigeria, the maneuverings and switching of loyalties between members of political parties, the sighting of strange bedfellows walking hand-in-hand in a lovey-dovey romantic adventurism, and the scribbling back-and-forth of letters even by the unlettered, are because of just one thing: President Goodluck Jonathan may run for re-election in 2015.
For those who don’t want to see the President’s face in Aso Rock beyond 2015, this is a bad song in their ears. Amongst them are the retired Army generals who have apparently pulled the rug of support from under the feet of the man who once upon a time “had no shoes” on his feet. Jonathan presiding over a complicated and complex arrangement like Nigeria now feels like he’s got an oversized pair of shoes on. Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo rendered the first stanza of the generals’ political hymnals when he signalled his desire to pull out of the ruling party PDP’s activities with immediate effect. He said he couldn’t dine with a “criminal” leading the pack in the South-West zone, but we all know why Baba bowed out—2015!
There are some human actions that are said to speak louder and boom bigger than words of mouth. The President is dispatching confusing signals that watchers perceive as body languages confirming what kind of song he is dancing to. I am not a guru in “body-languageology”, but when your friend is not saying “no” to your demands, he is assumed to be saying “yes”; that is why many conclude that the President will run. From the President, however, mum is the word on this possibility. But what if President Jonathan does not run?
Respecters of the Nigerian tablet of laws are saying that the President has the constitutional right to run, but what the PDP apparatchiks on whose back he rode to power are saying is that the right to run will result in the PDP left in absolute smithereens and shambles, and will not be fair to the North a region they believe has been shaken off relevance and reckoning in the last four years. Some zones believe that Nigeria will be better served at this juncture in history without the PDP in power. A party that once boasted it would last till eternity has now become the Ebola from which everybody scampers and scurries. The permutation that can give the President a win is fast becoming an algebraic conundrum and experts are trying to figure out on their Ouija-board of political calculations how the President will remain in the villa. Even with the melting chances, don’t mess with an incumbent, the single most powerful human being in Nigeria, who is tanking up for a political overrun of all parties that want to take the plum job away from him and his party. He may have the best in a trump card saved for the last.
This writer spoke with a couple of PDP bigwigs in both Rivers and Akwa Ibom states who said that their people believe it would be an abomination for the President not to run. They also said that if Jonathan backs off from running, it will be assumed that the North and the South-West must have threatened him surreptitiously. The decision to run or not may not be an easy one for the man from Otuoke, and that may be one of the reasons he is not rushing into announcing. If between now and the summer of this year President Jonathan announces that he is not running, the political chessboard will go topsy-turvy into confusion.
What will likely happen
All the absconding PDP governors and their surrogates in the House of Representatives and Senate especially from the North will one-by-one file back to the PDP. They are just one-leg- in and one-leg-out of the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress anyway, and the founding fathers of the APC know this to be true. Across the zones, life may return to PDP. But a great damage has already been done to the heart-and-soul of the party, and right now the APC is strategically soothing the hurt and pain of many wounded ex-warriors of the PDP who also love the attention. These people will prevail on Obasanjo to return, and he may oblige if he doesn’t announce his retirement from active politics before then. If you carefully read what Obasanjo said in his letter to Bamanga Tukur, there is still a miniscule chance he will remain in the PDP. Baba did not fasten the door completely shut.
Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s case is very different. This possible realignment will not in any shape or form help him because his initial grouse with the President and his wife has got so worse that it will be inconceivable how the governor can parley under the same roof with the First Lady. We do not anticipate Amaechi going back to the PDP under any circumstance. The First Lady has decided, it is believed, who will succeed Amaechi as governor in Rivers State, but Amaechi is looking in a different direction. The Soku oil well saga is not the problem as touted by the governor; he is more of an APC man than the PDP. The bad blood among the trio has got deep and personal probably beyond redemption. But politicians are a special breed from heaven; they can marry their enemies and jettison their friends for political expediency.
If the President will not run, the PDP’s presidential candidate will not be picked by the generals, but by the President himself. What we hear right now is that Ahmed Gulak, special adviser to President on political affairs, and an avowed defender on all matters is dear to the President. Gulak? Yes! And he has two things going on for him. One, he is loud, boisterous and expected to continue with the policies of the administration. Two, he is from the North-East, the hotbed of Boko Haram insurgency. The calculation is that a Gulak candidacy can help stem the terrorism tide and pacify the North, but it will not stop a possible “civil war” and a messy in-fighting that the move will unleash. Are we leaving Vice-President Namadi Sambo in the cold? He is already in the cold by choice and chance. Sambo is not a fiery, do-or-die politician who wants to be President at all cost, he is a business man VP who will slide into compliance and conformity if the President settles on a candidate. After all, Sambo is not popular even in his home base, Kaduna State.
Then, what happens to the APC? The fight for the control of the centre will continue with the remnant Northern support. The APC sees this season as the best time to capture the Presidency. The core of the APC (old ACN) has only a desire, not desperation to control the centre. They are more interested in keeping their coalition in the South-West states and I don’t see any state in the zone in this coming election that can reel out of APC column because of numerous remarkable accomplishments in this part of the country since Obafemi Awolowo. But a fractured Northern alliance makes the climb steeper for the party to control the centre, but it is still not impossible.
Will President Jonathan then run for re-election in 2015? Politics with all of its unpredictability will not allow us to put a sure nail on what happens in 2015, but my answer to the question is; YES! Jonathan is under pressure to run. Pressure from who and what? That’s for another day. If he does, then all of the possible pictures painted above will sink in a quicksand. Will he win? Nothing is certain in politics until that certain thing certainly happens. But a win will be a long shot.
This is straightup talk!
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