Saying it as it is
The English say it is “calling spade a spade”. Here, one of the groups in Nigeria known for telling the truth and putting no colour to anything it says is the Gbagyi (Gwari). The Gbagyi do not have any false pretence. They say anything as it is. That is why anytime people want to say the truth without mincing words they say in Hausa language, “Muyi ta Gwari – Gwari” (let us do it Gbagyi-Gbagyi style). Today I intend to say it as it is, no matter where ox is gored. This is what this column is known for, after all.
With regard to 2015, let us say that President Goodluck Jonathan is going to contest. The legality or otherwise, as well as the moral and ethical dimensions, will be sorted out later by the law courts. If there is anything that gave him away, it is the interview he had with Amanpour of CNN recently. That interview was able to bring out Dr. Jonathan more than anything else. More than anyone else, the president is interested in continuing in office beyond 2015. He has made it clear by saying it as it is in body language. There was sympathy for him in 2009/10 when the sick Yar’adua was dying and the country was held to ransom because there was no proper communication to make him effectively take charge. All the governors and the National Assembly came to the rescue by using the Doctrine of Necessity to make him take charge and, ultimately, nature took its course and he became substantive president in May 2010 with the death of President Umaru Yar’adua.
For the 2011 presidential election, the PDP governors had a meeting and unanimously agreed to support him for ONE term only. That decision was taken on Thursday, December 16, 2010, and the communique was read by Governor Shema of Katsina on behalf of his colleagues after they all had appended their signatures to that decision individually. It is clear that President Jonathan has jettisoned that agreement just as he threw out the zoning policy of his party in the course of the last election.
The problem he has now is that he has many things to contend with over his 2015 ambition. One, he was supported based on trust in 2011 and now he has to have something to show for staying for almost six years by 2015. Two, there are 18 PDP state governors who are in their second term now who would naturally want to move on. Their support was critical to his emergence in 2011 and, being a former governor himself, Jonathan knows that EK Clark is not as useful to him for 2015 as the governors that Clark is insulting now. From the many Supreme Court judgements too, such as Marwa vs Nyako and the celebrated case of Boni Haruna who inherited an election even before his principal was sworn in back in 1999 when Atiku was elevated to be the vice president to Obasanjo after winning the governorship of Adamawa, it is very clear that any stay in office of governor or president beyond EIGHT years is alien to the constitution. President Jonathan has to sort that out quickly with a competent court of law.
Due to the fact that from Yar’adua to date every president and vice president has been a former state governor, every governor is seen as a potential president or vice president. That is why, collectively, these governors are very crucial to the whole equation. There are a couple of governors who are presidential materials and everybody knows this. The PDP structure is skewed in their favour so that they are the teeth of the party. Obasanjo and Atiku committed that original sin that is now haunting the whole structure of the party. Every national officer of the party was either brought by a governor or the president and was adopted by “consensus” in the spirit of the party’s “family affair”.
President Jonathan’s main challenger in the last PDP primaries was former vice president Atiku Abubakar. Atiku wrongly came from a “northern” consensus platform. His speech at the convention dwelt on that “zoning” that was already jettisoned by the party. Atiku is still nursing presidential ambition but I cannot see where he will go in the current PDP. This is because I cannot see which state governor or even any national officer of the party that is behind him. This is just saying it as it is. Jonathan’s main challenger in the presidential election was General Muhammadu Buhari. His party, the CPC, did not have a single councillor then because it was new. Some people in his party hierarchy also helped to mismanage the chances of the party to get at least a couple of state governors, which would have been a good starting point. Even Al-makura’s governorship victory in Nasarawa in 2011 was largely a personal one and not based on any party popularity or acceptance, since the CPC has only four state assembly members out of 24 in the Nasarawa House of Assembly. This is just saying it as it is.
Then, there is even the sorry case of the prisoners’ dilemma in the north. In game theory, the prisoners’ dilemma is that one is enjoying at the expense of others or one is losing because of another’s gain. Some people have been peddling the ridiculous falsehood that Buhari lost in 2011 because Shekarau and Ribadu did not withdraw from the race! Then, who stopped him from becoming victorious in 2003 when he contested against only Obasanjo? It does not necessarily mean that if Buhari alone contested against another person from the south, he would automatically win because he is from the north. Politics is more than that.
Even to rig, you have to have some level of acceptance. Buhari has paid his dues; he should rest now. Buhari is an inspirational leader any day but he has allowed himself to be mismanaged by people he is not ready to do away with. His main asset is his integrity. And, if after telling the whole world in tears that 2011 was his last contest for the presidency, he tries to change his mind now, at over 70 years of age, it is indeed unfortunate because that integrity will take flight. That is just saying it as it is.
The ongoing merger talks among opposition parties are a good thing for Nigeria’s democracy. It will create a strong platform capable of challenging the PDP so that the democratic process will be more matured, deepened and widened. But if that merger is based on the ambition of certain individuals, then, it will go nowhere. If some people or section of Nigeria continues to say “Nigeria sai wane!”, then, God will leave them with that wane! And everyone knows what that means. But, hey, this is just an ordinary citizen saying it as it is.
Abba Mahmood is on www.Facebook.com