By John Okiyi-Kalu
One valuable discovery I made from participation in Facebook political discussions is that Nigerians define political loyalty in narrow and strict terms to mean “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” of the candidate of your choice.
In a way I think it is a carry-over from the politics of the 60s and 80s where you are either, a Zikist, Awoist or Belloist. As the legend goes, those leaders were men who could not make mistakes hence it was assumed that everything
and anything they did must be right and defended without questioning by all and sundry. Any attempts to question, advice or correct those political demi-gods was seen as
rebellion that will attract consequences.
Naturally the children of Zikists, Awoists etc of those days will still see political support the way their parents saw it, unless conscious effort is made to re-orient them. To that generation of political supporters, telling truth to those in authority is anathema, the
person to be advised is their political enemy or opponent. Quite unlike in the case of the foregoing scenario, the advice I subscribe to here, is meant to achieve the direct opposite of what used to be. Good supporters are able to see positives, offer generous praise and also point out lurking dangers. As far as you are not a paid PR person, it should be easy for you to navigate from praise singer to critic if you truly want the best for the candidate and your constituency. Blind support, which by far, is more dangerous than critical support, destroys faster than anything in politics or leadership.
Early this year, I warned that the plan by certain elements in the presidency to pick an unnecessary fight with Amaechi will not only backfire but will potentially cost Jonathan the presidency. Naturally my chest thumping friends and brothers in the school of political support for Jonathan were up in arms and even couldn’t hide their disdain for me and my position. The boast then was that Amaechi would be gotten rid of, within weeks and in his place, an unknown replacement would be installed. Those who lived on such assumption also shifted their hypes to Gov Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom as the new champion in the Niger
Delta. I just siddon dey look dem, as they say in Nigerian pidgin parlance.
Of course an unsuccessful attempt was made to remove Amaechi with one of the consequences being the hospitalisation of a member of the Rivers state house of Assembly from injuries received by an Honorable thug called Chidi Lloyd.
True to my prediction then, Amaechi dug into his political experience bag to keep his job as well as make the President look like a half-witted aggressor who could not even muster the necessary support to defeat an ordinary governor in NGF election but rather chose to discard democratic common sense by awarding victory to 16 in a contest against 19. From initial denials of involvement we have now heard the truth from the President’s wife on who was actually behind the “akpako” dance in Port Harcourt. For those not conversant with current behind the scene happenings in this saga, the president’s men are negotiating the terms of a truce with Amaechi that will involve both sides giving up something for semblance of peace to be restored. Nobody is talking about “Amaechi must go” again. But even Amaechi know that peace is no longer possible, only a truce to preserve interests. Yet the President’s men have not told him the cost of the ill- advised misadventure. I will help him here to find out.
First, permit me to once again send out another free warning or advice, for the records or corrective action by Mr President. The Presidency orchestrated disqualification of Prof Chukwuma Soludo from the APGA primaries in Anambra State will cost Mr President a massive chunk of votes/support in the South East. Combined with the effect of the roforofo with Amaechi, I hereby warn that defeat looms for President Jonathan in 2015 if nothing is immediately done. You can ask TB Joshua or Olumba Olumba. If you don’t believe me, that’s your business.
I read Reuben Abati’s response to our complaints yesterday and had a good laugh. From the olympian heights of Aso Rock he probably looked down and saw kids and “mumus” before responding with: “It is definitely unreasonable to assume that President Jonathan will dictate how APGA Anambra chooses its gubernatorial candidates. Do we need to remind the mentally indolent that President Jonathan is a member of the PDP and not APGA and that there is no way he can possibly interfere in the internal processes of an opposition party? My answer to your enquiry therefore is that there is no truth to the allegation.”
May be “hard working” Abati should tell us how a President who is a member of PDP ended up being endorsed by APGA in 2011 as the party’s Presidential candidate. He can help us understand how the national leader of APGA was appointed Ambassador to Spain by a PDP government. Are there no qualified PDP members to be so appointed? By Abati’s “indolent logic”, APGA shouldn’t have endorsed a PDP candidate who is not their member for President in 2011. I leave it to those involved in that good decision, in my view, to respond to Abati and tell him the relationship between APGA and a PDP President. I can only wait till 2015 to replay Abati’s response if and when push comes to shove.
It is possible that we might also not wait that long given the Rivers experience where same Abati swore that the first lady had no hand in Amaechi’s travails until Bishops visited the First Lady and we started reading “my problem with Amaechi blablabla” Before then Jonathan’s foot soldiers were busy denying and insulting anyone who connected her Excellency to the crisis. It won’t be surprising for me to get similar response to this note from the uninformed ones among them..
For those my friends trumpeting the official line for Soludo’s disqualification based on APGA constitution, I have a little information for you. APGA have not changed their constitution since 2011. The current constitution is the same one used to deliver Rochas Okorocha as APGA governor of Imo State. Just like Soludo, Okorocha joined APGA from PDP just before the elections and was given necessary waivers to run with APGA flag. The only difference today is that the oga at the top does not want Soludo and had to lean on his friend and church member Peter Obi and Victor Umeh to scuttle Soludo’s ambition early in the day. Bianca Ojukwu was the message bearer.
We have heard from sources that President Jonathan was initially positively disposed towards Soludo’s candidacy until he met his political father and “misleader”, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Of course Obasanjo wants to reward his boy, Andy Uba, with Anambra governorship and by so doing ensure he has a personal pipe connecting him directly to Anambra state purse. The President’s initial protest must have been because his old friend and Special Assistant, Sullivan Nwakpo will also lose out after being assured and re-assured that PDP ticket for Anambra is his to take. At what point did the discussion between OBJ and Jona veer off to APGA candidate for the election? If Abati is to be believed in his funny response, ordinarily both men are members of PDP. It should therefore be assumed that only Peter Obi can effectively influence who flies APGA flag. Was it therefore Peter Obi who engineered 3 members of screening panel (as against the APGA constitution’s required 7) to seat and disqualify the most qualified governorship candidate in Nigeria? If it is not Peter Obi then it must be Victor Umeh. Whoever gave the order and those who sanctioned or executed the order are all anti-APGA and anti-Igbo.
The funniest part of the disqualification was the mention of “ongoing EFCC” probe. When did that translate to conviction bikonu? When President Jona ran with YarAdua there was an ongoing EFCC probe of the President’s stewardship in Bayelsa. What does our law say about the difference between a probe and a conviction? What has happened to the doctine of “innocent until proven guilty by a law court”? Will those who purported to disqualify Soludo on the grounds of ” ongoing probe” accept that we apply same standard to all the candidates for this and future elections? That will simply mean that any candidate with even a police case, regardless of how frivolous, will not contest primaries. Is it not funny the level we are descending to just to stop a man of his people?
Even if Mr President is scared of the political clout of Prof Soludo, his executioners in APGA could have done better than stopping him before the primaries. Why not allow him to contest and lose to whoever you have annointed? Did the people involved know that Soludo is the most popular Igbo politician among the educated youths of Igbo land? Are you prepared for backlash from that segment of Igbo population who incidentally are setting the agenda for the Igbo nation for now?
For those who don’t know, let me spell it out better. If those who disqualified Soludo from APGA Anambra Primaries do not find a way to “requalify” him we will not only ensure that APC wins the election but also make it difficult for Jonathan to get more than 60% of South East votes. Before you ask me how, I will tell you in the hope that you will tell the President.
If Soludo leaves for PDM tomorrow, next tomorrow I will dump my PDP card and get a PDM card. I won’t be alone. And that will happen across Igbo land, diaspora and in the North and West of Nigeria. Concurrent with Soludo joining PDM, Governors Amaechi, Babangida Aliyu, Sule Lamido, Aliyu Wamakko, Murtala Nyarko and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso will swing to PDM after the coming PDP congress. I am sure governor Amaechi already know that his office is not really safe and just like his other PDP colleagues, know they have no part or lot with APC that is at best Boko Haram supporting contraption. Once Amaechi and the other 5 governors join PDM with Soludo in Anambra, Rochas Okorocha will decamp to PDM. That makes them 7 governors plus or minus Soludo.
Most of us know that Rochas is uncomfortable with APC and is looking for a safe alternative that ensures Imolites and Ndigbo don’t have to make a choice between a party seen as terrorist supporting and Igbo killing/humiliating party and PDP. Similarly, many Igbo political gladiators left in the cold by the 2011 Jonathan for President campaign in Igbo land will surely relish the opportunity to give one back to 3 of the outgoing SE governors as well as reposition themselves within a more natural political environment. Men Like Ken Nnamani, Sam Egwu, Nwodo, Orji Uzor Kalu, Chinwe Obaji, Uche Chukwumerije etc will naturally see an opportunity to relaunch themselves politically in association with the progressives of the North.
The simple implication of what I stated above is DEFEAT for Jonathan in 2015. Unless he opts not to contest. Without solid support of minimum 80% from the South East there is simply no path for Jonathan 2015. To be re-elected the President must repeat his numbers in the South South in 2011 and also prevent his opponents from getting 25% in the East. If either of those scenarios is threatened, the President must decide either to drop his ambition or move swiftly to correct things. At the moment he is walking a thin line with near zero error margin.
Regardless of smart arguments made or to be made by the President’s team, the Soludo situation is a major threat to Jona in 2015. I am not from Anambra state but can tell you that Soludo’s support cuts across Igbo land. He is seen by many as the return of Nnamdi Azikiwe part 2. It is therefore difficult to find any Zikist that does not also support Soludo. Those who don’t know might ask me what has Soludo done for Ndigbo. I am not sure I have a list of achievements to give you but I can assure you that I feel like a Soludo. Among Igbos he is a humble achiever who is proud of his root and ready to drop Charles for Chukwuma after struggling through a poor beginning. Among the Hausa, he is supremely trusted to always do the right regardless of who is involved and yet the Yoruba see him as a detribalized intellectual with positive convictions.
If you know Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe from history books, then it won’t be difficult to connect with Prof Soludo. It is therefore natural that the young man represents the hopes and aspirations of a generation of Ndigbo, including my humble self. If you have doubts, please ask 10 Igbos on facebook who they will present if 2015 is zoned to South East. My guess is that 80% of them will mention Soludo’s name. Somebody should have told President Jonathan that before he embraked on meddling with our choice.
While Soludo’s profile makes him a possible contender for President in future, even a blind man can see that he can’t possibly contest for President in 2015 and hence no direct threat to Jonathan. The problem of those in power appears to be that they are not sure he will do as told when necessary. In other words, they expect a professor to become a zombie to guarantee Jona’s re-election? How laughable and idiotic. Why won’t you be able to convince him with superior argument or even bring him close to support your govt? Could it be true that the Jonathan regime trully has a phobia for men with brains? May be that explains why arguably one of the best fit individuals for President in Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan is yet to reach cruising altitude and deliver steady power supply. There appears to be a nest of anti-intellectuals in his regime that ensure that people with brains are kept out in favor of loyal mediocres. No wonder Prof Barth Nnaji got kicked out for political reasons.
Soludo will not be anyone’s stooge or puppet. But because he knows that most of us his supporters will rather keep Jonathan in office for another 4 years, that alone is enough assurance for President Jonathan. But if they insist on doing it their way we will mobilize and elect Ngige then mobilize again and ensure Jonathan does not get more than 55% of Igbo votes in 2015. Those in doubt can bet us with Anambra Governorship election and see how it will go.
Elections are not necessarily lost through one major blunder. Most times series of small missteps are enough to cost you an election you are otherwise poised to win. Like the Rivers misadventure, the meddling into APGA affairs will hurt President Jonathan. It will likely rally Igbo progressives too. If anyone is assuring Mr President of suport from South East Governors forum, let him forget it. 3 of them are in their last tenure and are only interested in planting their men as replacments to avoid probes. There is no incentive to go all out for a “sinking” Jonathan who created his problems by himself for himself.
It is safe and easy to remain silent and/or say it is not true that the President meddled whereas we know that he did. If we cannot support him with truth better not to spin him into trouble with lies because in politics everything is ultimately revealed. The man who asked you to remove your hand from fire is a better friend than the man denying that your hand is on fire. Soludo is an untouchable in Igbo land and if you wish to touch, do so at your own risk knowing the political consequences.
For me, na like joke like joke the butterfly dey take enter bush. Once it enters, it will be difficult to recapture.
Whoever disqualified Soludo must “requalify” him for the sake of Jonathan. Let him win or be defeated in an open APGA primary as we cannot find any legal reason for his disqualification. All we see is 2015 politics.