- Category: Opinions/Interviews
- Published on Sunday, 20 November 2011 00:44
- Written by Jide Ajani/Vanguard
- Hits: 807
The President rubbished the state governor – Olusegun Obasanjo against Chinwoke Mbadinuju. It was in September, 2002, inside Aso Rock’s private dining area for the President. During an interview session with then President Obasanjo, a call came through. A security man walked into the room and whispered something to Obasanjo after which he picked the phone.
Mbadinuju, then governor of Anambra State was at the other end. He had called Obasanjo to complain that some trucks conveying human cargo had stormed his state – the trucks were carrying soldiers and Policemen from the mobile unit into Awka, the state capital. But Obasanjo would not suffer the governor.
“Governor Anambra”, the usually agitated Obasanjo thundered into the telephone, “If you obstruct them, they will crush you”.
Aparently trying to explain to Obasanjo from the other end that the soldiers were menacing and would create a security challenge for him in the state, Obasanjo thundered again: “Governor Anambra, you should do your work as governor but let the people I have sent in do their own job too. If you stand in their way, they will crush you. I am warning you; eh, I am warning you; if you obstruct them, they will crush you”.
This was at a time when Anambra State had become a theatre of war as a result of the internal crisis of the PDP. That was how Obasanjo handled Anambra State as leader of the PDP and President and Commander-in-Chief. This was in 2002.
Nine years later, President Goodluck Jonathan is confronted with a challenge in his own Bayelsa State on how to stop the state governor from having a second term.
But Jonathan has made a mess of his handling of the situation, giving rise to other further egregious developments which would not bode well in the long run.
His party decided to screen out Governor Timi Sylva from contesting the primaries of the party. It has. Giving a façade to its action, the party also disqualified Undutimi Alaibe, Ben Murray-Bruce and Godknows Igali from the race.
But Sylva went to court to get an order to try to stop the primaries which held yesterday. He got the order.
President Jonathan and his party simply did what PDP normally does: Over heat the polity with its internal crisis. Jonathan’s PDP has resorted to self-help by going against a court order stopping the primaries.
That is not all.
Even after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, made it clear that it would not perform its role of constitutionally monitoring the primaries to stamp its seal of legality, the PDP went ahead.
Yesterday’s primaries would leave many bruised.
The seemingly waning credibility of President Jonathan would further plunge into the abyss of recklessness as his desires can not be separated from the actions of the leadership of PDP which decided tom bar Sylva from the primaries and then go ahead to defy a court order.
Worse, the question is being asked of Jonathan’s understanding of the consequences of his party’s approach on the matter: How come a state governor that is seen as largely under-performing is giving the President a tough time on a simple matter of party primaries? The only explanation for this may be that the President himself may be no better than the state governor he is seeking to unseat – for how does a man who ascended the presidency on the crest of massive goodwill be the butt of derision all within six months?
In addition to this, the PDP is in danger of losing Bayelsa State should Sylva go ahead to dump the party. The simple reason for this is that the state governor is now seen by many in the state as suffering from persecution.
How it started
After Obasanjo muscled Alaibe out of the PDP race in 2007, Jonathan emerged as the party’s governorship candidate. Obasanjo, sensing the obviously malleable disposition of Jonathan, reached for him as the PDP presidential running mate.
Jonathan wanted one of those whom he defeated at the primaries and who came fourth as his choice but former Petroleum Resources Minister, Dakoru, now a respected paramount ruler and to whom Sylva had been an aide, moved into the picture. Having had dealings with Obasanjo over the years, he prevailed on the former president to pick Sylva. Obasanjo did. However, Obasanjo reportedly said Sylva would serve only one term. Now, whether Obasanjo was being prophetic or was just being his usual rambunctious self may not be known for now. His prophecy may be about to become true.
But what happened immediately after the swearing-in of Sylva was that the governor moved against Jonathan. A probe was initiated by Sylva to look into an award for the purchase of books costing an alleged N100m and which was allegedly awarded by the Jonathan administration. Whether the probe resulted in any meaningful outcome of indictment of Jonathan or not is still not known. This was in 2007, a time when Jonathan was a meek, if naïve number two man in Nigeria. Then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died; and Jonathan became President and Commander-in-Chief – not after he had weathered the storm of opposition allegedly sponsored by Sylva aimed at stopping his ascendancy. In a country of contending political forces, playing god is not uncommon. Jonathan may never have forgiven Sylva.
Sylva himself is being accused of being the architect of his problem by seeking an extension of his tenure through a court case which gave him additional one year in office as a result of a re-election in 2008. Had his election taken place earlier in April, a time when President Jonathan placated every person that needed placating just so he could win his election, Sylva may have secured his victory.
For now, the crisis in the state chapter of PDP is an unfolding drama that is not about to end with yesterday’s primaries.