A WEEK can be a very long time in politics. And the past week has been most interesting in the cloak-and-dagger world of Nigerian politics; or more appropriately, the cut-throat world of PDP’s politics.
No party in recent times has deluded itself to the height the PDP has gone, about its unity of purpose; conflicts that stick out like the limbs of a hurriedly buried corpse are described as a ‘family affair’ by leaders of Nigeria’s ruling party
In truth, there are no principles, no ideas or core issues that are held dear, but the covetous greed of power and the access to lucre, which it has offered the denizens of the PDP since 1999. For as long as the party’s dominance of the power process continues, with an impotent opposition, there cannot be any fundamental shift of ground from the profanities that rule PDP’s internal life.
The political observer is, therefore, obliged to study very closely, and in a nuanced manner, the fluttering within the haloed precincts of the PDP for clues to developments in political society.
Last week, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, the radical Kano politician, who is convener of a new coalition of Northerners, accused the Justice Belgore-led constitutional amendment committee, of relentlessly pursuing a sinister third term/renewed tenure elongation for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Muhammed said “hirelings of the Presidency (have) been (attempting) to create a so-called new Constitution to pave the way for Jonathan to again contest the presidential election in 2015 for a single term of seven years…That is, in addition to his current four years to the nearly two years he had served of the Yar’Adua presidency”.
Calculated political bait
If Dr. Junaid Muhammed’s statement was a calculated political bait, then the Presidency fell for it. Because in response, presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati noted: “It appears strange to me that a group of people…would claim that the President is looking for a third term.
Every intelligent man in this country knows that President Jonathan is in his first term in office, so how have they suddenly jumped from his first term to a third term. From the view of arithmetic, even their claim cannot stand. So that claim is weak, it is unacceptable”.
Unfortunately for Abati, we are not dealing with arithmetic but hard-nosed politics! By describing Jonathan’s present term as ‘First’, Abati helped to put many issues in perspective.
He unwittingly confirmed that there is a surreptitious plan by Jonathan to run in 2015. It is also the first official confirmation that Jonathan’s statement not to go for another term has been abandoned. So when Asari Dokubo, declaimed that Jonathan would spend eight years in power, and would run in 2015, a statement also endorsed by AtedoPeterside, a picture has clearly emerged.
Nigerians had better wisen up to the reality of the moment: Dr Jonathan is not about to abandon the Presidency in a hurry. It is also now clear why President Jonathan ordered everybody else to stay off matters in respect of the 2015 election; in truth, he sees himself as master of the political manor.
This presidential ambition is directly related to the struggle for consensus, in the choice of party chairman in the PDP. At the last count, 11 candidates have thrown their hats into the ring.
The inability to find consensus is no longer a political disease of the Igbo political elite. Politicians from the North are slow to learn the worst lessons from their Southern counterparts, but they then turn around to domesticate the worst aspects of life! But ‘consensus’ in as deformed a manner as possible will eventually be imposed by the Presidency.
The emergence of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, is a master stroke by Jonathan’s team. At least in 2015, Atiku Abubakar is not expected to contest against Jonathan, given that his hometown of Yola, would be ‘enjoying’ the chairmanship of Tukur. Jonathan has set the cats among the pigeons of the Fulbe elite in Adamawa and by extension, the political elite in the North, especially the PDP elements to give support in the 2011 election. They are as enfeebled as can be and are in a terminal political decline!
On the eve of the endorsement of Jonathan in 2010, I had argued in an article for Daily Trust, that Northern governors, by supporting Jonathan, were taking the peoples of the North to Northern Cameroun (a political and power exile in a modern Siberia!). In riposte, Babangida Aliyu, chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, assured they would not, or were not!
They would extract certain promises from Jonathan, including the assurance that he would only do a single term. The man made the promise, but it is clear that it was never going to be kept.
T.S Elliot once said of power, that the strong man strongly, and the weak man by caprice, but each has the same ambition: to assume power and hold on to it! In Nigeria, President Jonathan is teaching lessons to the old masters of the power game. Those who would dare the man do not have the financial muscle he flexes.
The lesson of the politics of the past week in the PDP teaches how ambition is being stuffed within the search for consensus, under the leaky umbrella of the ruling party. The governors have always been a very strong current within the party, but it is looking like Jonathan is getting his way, in those issues that will impact directly upon his 2015 ambition.
If he has suffered a setback within the Belgore committee in respect of the single seven-year term, according to feelers from that committee, then the four-year term of 2015 has taken on an added significance. In politics, it is wrong to assume that every piece in a jigsaw has been put in place, until they are actually in place.
It is rather like an officer with a distended belly, attempting to tuck in his shirt; it is likely to be uncomfortable, even if the semblance of the action has indeed taken place. Ambition, consensus, tucking them in under the PDP’s umbrella; President Jonathan will do well to learn lessons from Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Political pictures are not as pretty as they might appear.