LAST Thursday in Washington, USA, Kingsley Kuku, President Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Niger Delta and chairman, presidential amnesty programme, gave us a peek into the mindset of the administration current in power in Nigeria.
Kuku, warned officials of the US State Department led by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (Bureau of African Affairs), Donald Teitelbaum, that there would be “Dire Consequences” in the Niger Delta, should Goodluck Jonathan fail to secure a fresh term in 2015.
Kingsley added that: “it is only a Jonathan presidency that can guarantee continued peace and energy security in the Niger Delta”. Never mind that up to this moment, Goodluck Jonathan has continued to live in denial about 2015, his Adviser nevertheless told his American audience that the only game in town was the 2015, and from his standpoint (the chap could not have been speaking just for himself or could he?), it is Jonathan, or all hell will break lose!
Kingsley Kuku told his American hosts, long addicted to the sweet Bonny Light crude out of the Niger Delta, in a mix of tease and threat, that: “I hope the U.S. is aware that with peace and stability in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s economy will remain buoyant enough to empower the Federal Government to contend with terrorism and other forms of insecurity in other parts of the country”. Kuku’s thesis about “terrorism” came about, because the administration he serves apparently thinks the Americans are not singing from its hymn book on the Boko Haram crisis (which the Americans have consistently linked to the socio-economic situation in Northern Nigeria, contrary to the administration’s narrative that it was a Northern “conspiracy against Jonathan’s presidency).Energy security
He added that: “the peace that currently prevails in the zone is largely because Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who is from that same place, is the President of Nigeria. That is the truth”. But Kingsley was not done: “If we allow anything to hurt the peace in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s economy will be endangered and energy security in Nigeria and even in America will not be guaranteed.
The attention and interest of the US in Nigeria must remain stability of the Niger Delta and the easiest way to ensure this is to encourage President Jonathan to complete an eight-year term”. The threat to Americans is clearly conveyed but the Dire Consequences that Jonathan’s boy, Kingsley Kuku is threatening, is actually against the Nigerian people.
According to Kingsley Kuku, the various challenges in the Niger Delta, from resource control, environmental degradation and youth unemployment are still very much on the front burner. Never mind what the Nigerian state has done for the Niger Delta in recent years, with the 13 percent Derivation; NDDC; Ministry of the Niger Delta and the billions of naira that Kingsley Kuku expends as chair of the presidential amnesty programme.
Niger Delta agitators are waiting patiently and will do so “as long as one of their own, Dr. Jonathan remains the President, and I think this is one thing the American government should reflect seriously on”. He also reminded about how militants reduced Nigeria’s oil output to as low as 700,000 barrels per day in the first quarter of 2009. This is where the roots of the Dire Consequences, which the chap threatened, are located. Kingsley Kuku might be addressing an American audience, but it was clear that he was delivering the warnings to the Nigerian people.
Whiff of intentions
In Kingsley Kuku’s threats, we catch a whiff of intentions within the government and by extension, the danger the Niger Delta political elite currently running Nigeria, represents to the democratic process in our country, and by extension, to the survival of Nigeria itself.
The first issue is that democracy cannot be run on the basis of threats of Dire Consequences, if Jonathan does not secure a second term in power. Democracy is about the expression of the free will of a free people. The assumption is that Nigerians freely gave Goodluck Jonathan their votes in the first place; and in turn, we reserve the right to re-elect him, or refuse to! The basis of re-election will be performance.
The president made promises to the people and it was supposedly upon that basis that he was elected. But Kingsley Kuku knows (deep in his heart), that his principal’s performance has fallen far below expectations, even amongst his ardent supporters! He cannot return to the electorate on the basis of his record of performance; carriage as a leader and trustworthiness, to win a free and fair election. Relatedly, the Niger Delta entourage around him has so alienated other Nigerians, making it more difficult to build a pan-Nigerian coalition of support for 2015.
This is the backdrop against which Kingsley Kuku issued the threat of Dire Consequences if Jonathan doesn’t win a re-election! The Nigerian people are being unambiguously threatened to vote Jonathan in 2015, or else! It might surprise the reader that a Presidential Adviser, Kingsley Kuku, will issue the same threats that Niger Delta lumpens have so often done. But the small matter here, is that there is no Chinese wall dividing the lumpen elements from the Niger Delta political elite. One has an umbilical connection to the other.
The political elite had financed the subversion perpetrated by the “militants” in the first place. And the interconnectedness entered the entrails of the Nigerian security apparatus, when military officers from the region, abetted the theft of arms from the Nigerian military, for sale to Niger Delta militants! Kingsley Kuku is merely reminding Nigerians that they still have their thugs in waiting; re-elect Jonathan or they will go for the nation’s economic jugular!
“The agitators are prepared to patiently await development as long as one of their own, Dr. Jonathan remains President, and I think this is one thing the American government should reflect seriously on”. Remove Americans, and substitute with the Nigerian people, and the Dire Consequences are brought home!
Mindset and contempt for democracy
Kingsley Kuku is a presidential adviser but his mindset betrays the worst contempt for democracy. Let Goodluck Jonathan run in 2015; that is the business of the PDP, his political party. But the Nigerian people cannot be intimidated with a gun-to-the-head Dire Consequences.
We reserve the right to choose whosoever will run our country in free elections. If Jonathan is found worthy of a second term, so be it. But if the Nigerian people think he does not deserve a second term, and express their rejection of his candidacy in free polls, there are no Dire Consequences that will not be eventually faced off.
Kingsley Kuku should advise his principal, Jonathan Goodluck, to fulfill promises he made to the Nigerian people and broaden the base of his politics away from the tunnel vision of Niger Delta above everyone else and be more presidential in comportment, speech and action; then maybe, just maybe, he might win again in 2015. The way out in a democracy (even a deformed democracy as we have in Nigeria won’t be an exception to this rule!) is not to threaten us with Dire Consequences, because we will not be intimidated. Certainly, not by a Kingsley Kuku!