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Atsar Terver
Public Commentator
Port Harcourt
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Nigerian
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It is no exaggeration to say that the only thing that occupies the heart of the President is how to remain in power beyond 2015 and terror awaits any ‘Jupiter’ who dares to stand in his way.  His body language says it loudly. The big question however is why does he want power this much if he has no idea how to use the power to improve the lot of the Nation?  What drives President Jonathan?  Is it just enough that the shoeless son of a fisherman became President of Nigeria? Should we just celebrate this uncommon feat and forget about the stench of monumental corruption that oozes from all facets of this Presidency? Should we just overlook the progressive destruction of the democratic tenets and the economy for the fear of hurting a President who thinks criticizing his failures is a taboo?

 

Impeachments: A new Terrorist on the Prowl

When former President Olusegun Obasanjo, then the President of Nigeria began to use impeachment as a tool of coercion to bully politically antagonistic Governors into loyalty to him and the PDP, some of us cried foul. Our position then was that, impeachment even though constitutional as a means to check the executive from grossly violation the constitution under the cover of immunity, should not be converted into a witch-hunting tool by tyrannical leaders with zero tolerance for plurality of political opinion.

 

Obasanjo had set out with the primary objective to install himself a perpetual leader in the mould of the Mugabes and Eyademas of Africa, but in the process foisted a one-party orientation in the psyche of the average Nigerian politician. It came to be accepted that to win elections or to remain in an elected position, one must profess loyalty to the President and also be a member of the Presidents Party; the latter being the natural sequel to the former. It became an unwritten rule that getting the party’s nomination meant automatic victory at the polls.

Seeing how stringent the requirements and the constitutional process for impeachment was, Obasanjo devised ways to overcome the huddle. He induced willing State Houses of Assembly members in his target states with monetary rewards, while recalcitrant ones were harassed into cooperation with the Presidents bull-dog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. An overzealous Ribadu, buoyed by the showmanship and the allure of limelight, went to ridiculous lengths to harass and intimidate the political enemies of his principal ostensibly believing he was doing the nation some good.

The concerned lawmakers with bribe-money stains on their hands on one hand and a sword of Damocles’ hanging over their heads on the other went into frenzy, violating all due process in the bid to please their paymaster. It was then we has to adjust our understanding of elementary arithmetic to accept that 6 was indeed a majority in the house of 24  in Plateau State  and Dariye became the victim of this rebased mathematics. Alameyiesiagha of Bayelsa State, Peter Obi of Anambara, Rasheed Ladoja of Oyo State and  Ayo Fayose of Ekiti all suffered similar fate in the hands of Obasanjo, whose disdain for opposition has become legendary.

It was this flagrant abuse of constitutional procedures that threw up a hitherto unknown spare-tire, in the person of Goodluck Jonthan as a successor to the then fugitive, now pardoned bail-jumper and ex-convict, DSP Alamayeisiagha. One thing keep leading to another and Jonathan became the President; stepping into the very same shoes that Obasanjo once wore. As the greatest beneficiary of the manipulative and remotely guided impeachments, it is not a surprise that Jonathan has now taken to the same vice in his fight for political survival.

When Some Governors moved from the PDP to the opposition APC, thus making an unopposed return by Jonathan to ASO rock for a third term in 2015, unlikely, and with his former god-father Obasanjo covertly pitching his tent with opposition, those with the crystal ball could see clearly that Jonathan had a tough battle to fight but what they could not see was that that the very weapon he would use for this battle was handled down to him by the same Obasanjo.

We must give it to Jonathan, that he has now refined impeachment process moving it away from the crude approach of Obasanjo when a handful of legislators became the majority under intimidation by EFCC, making it glaringly dubious, to a situation where overwhelming majority of the House members are recruited quietly to do the job, giving it a semblance of a popular action. This did not however come without an initial attempt at the crude method in Rivers State which backfired. The man went back to the drawing board and now he is out for the kill with his new formula. Despite the seeming majority of the Adamawa House members acting in concert to remove the embattled Governor of Adamawa, it was not lost on observers that the real puppeteer pulling the strings was sitting in Abuja.

Having succeeded in Adamawa, all is now set to deploy the method in all the remaining APC states, especially those in which PDP once held sway before the decamping of the nPDP governors to the APC. The message is very clear; 2015 is a must-win for Jonathan and win he must at all cost. The security votes he has amassed for the past three years in the guise of fighting Boko Haram alone is enough war chest to buy off all House of Assembly Members wherever they are. This is besides the 49billion US Dollars unaccounted for by the NNPC for which Sanusi lost out with the Presidency. Since there is hardly any Nigerian politician who is principled enough to reject financial inducement especially one that comes with threats and some compulsion to compel acceptance from the powers that be, we may as well conclude that Jonathon will have his way.

This is the exact danger some of us saw in the bad seed Obasanjo was sowing, when we cried against the impeachments galore that permeated his third term adventure. That a President could (mis)use the enormous power and financial resources at his disposal to prosecute personal political battles and muzzle opposition runs contrary to the very principles of democracy where dissent and diversity of political opinion is sacrosanct.

A situation where an elected Governor is removed by the whims and caprices of one man without recourse to the people who elected him is anti-democratic. The semblance of people participation in the removal as claimed by some, citing the fact that the assembly members who did the impeachment were elected by the people, is just skin-deep. Truth is that even if the members of the House of Assembly in Adamawa for instance, were elected by the people, the people did not push for them to initiate impeachment process against their Governor. The House members never consulted their constituencies nor held any town-hall sessions to gauge the desires of their people. Abuja was the payer of the Piper and thus detected the tone. This was confirmed by the Acting Governor, the Speaker of the Adamawa House of Assembly who went to Abuja to inform the leader of their party, PDP, that he has delivered their mandate. By this, the Acting Governor implied that his loyalty is not to the people who elected them but to the highest bidder in Abuja.

There is this other argument that the governors who were (and are currently) impeached actually had some skeletons in their cupboard and so it serves them right. The problem with this thinking is that it does not address the reason for the un-touch (ability) of dozens of PDP governors who have bigger skeletons and even fresh corpses in their freezers! It would have made some sense if the President’s clamp down on these Governors is motivated by some zeal to fight corruption but alas the man himself sees corruption as unduly over-emphasized in Nigeria. Here is a man who sees nothing wrong with ‘mere’ stealing of public resources and is seriously worried that people would equate that with corruption.

When Stella Uduah, the then Aviation Minister squandered N225million on bullet-proof cars the President looked on as if nothing happened. I also watched on, squirming on my inside, as the Central Bank Governor exposed that billions of Dollars were not remitted by the NNPC to Government coffers; but nothing was done, not even by way of a query to the Minister of Petroleum resources, rather the President took the accusation personally as an affront to his Presidency. From the blues, came a purported report from a hitherto little known Financial Reporting Council indicting the Central bank Governor for very funny offences and pronto, the President suspended the CBN Governor.

It is therefore specious for such a President in whose world view corruption is tolerable to cite corruption on the part of the Governors as reason for his wanting them out. Had Jonathan wanted to fight corruption, he had enough starting material in the over 30 ex-governors whom Ribadu had declared corrupt while playing the script of Obasanjo but these people are free men.

The lesson from this is that visionary leaders ought to set good precedence as benchmarks for future leaders. One of the greatest failures of Obasanjo as a leader was his deliberate refusal to deepen democracy, by giving opposition breathing space. He chose rather to promote a one-Party state and ‘god-fatherism’. He subtly abolished the rule of law and substituted it with the rule of the gang where the gangster sits in Abuja and deploys state resources against any dissenting voice across the nation. He elevated loyalty to the president above loyalty to the nation and its constitution. While he was at this, many politicians like Nyako urged him on either by acts of commission or omission in the belief that it will never come to them. They were wrong. In the final analysis, people like Nyako who worked with Obasanjo in the PDP to build the anti-democratic culture whose bitter fruits they are reaping now should take part of the blame for their woes.

It is no exaggeration to say that the only thing that occupies the heart of the President is how to remain in power beyond 2015 and terror awaits any ‘Jupiter’ who dares to stand in his way.  His body language says it loudly. The big question however is why does he want power this much if he has no idea how to use the power to improve the lot of the Nation?  What drives President Jonathan?  Is it just enough that the shoeless son of a fisherman became President of Nigeria? Should we just celebrate this uncommon feat and forget about the stench of monumental corruption that oozes from all facets of this Presidency? Should we just overlook the progressive destruction of the democratic tenets and the economy for the fear of hurting a President who thinks criticizing his failures is a taboo?

 

 

 


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