Theophilus Ilevbare: Of NGF Crisis And PDP’s Damage Control
The hog-wash of 19 grumpy PDP governors in the aftermath of the NGF election declaring Jang as chairman, citing a purported endorsement in a pre-election agreement to form a Kangaroo faction as a belated attempt at damage control after defeat is reprehensible. That they chose to display their asinine grievances in such a manner that undermines demcrocratic tenets leaves much to be desired of men vested with the peoples' mandate.
A video on the internet released as evidence by the pro-Amaechi group captured the returning officer counting the votes as the 35 governors looked on. Clearly, the PDP had its back on the ground and there was no way they could discredit or upturn the results of the NGF poll except with a splinter group. Funny as it sounds, some of the seeming aggrieved governors who flanked Jonah Jang and Akpabio during a press briefing may have polled for Amaechi in the secret ballot that was fiercely resisted before it was eventually adopted to the chagrin of the anti-Amaechi camp. The secret ballot, effectively sealed victory for Amaechi before any vote was cast as a few PDP governors found a clandestine way of registering their displeasure at the president's coercive tactics by polling for Amaechi. It was a triumph of 'good' over evil, a victory over democratic tyranny.
It behoves on the seething governors to tell Nigerians the law that Amaechi broke or where it is spelt out in the NGF constitution that a sitting chairman must step down and cannot preside over an election in which he is a candidate. It is akin to saying Jang and his grouchy colleagues in the NGF splinter opposition would rewrite the country's constitution on the eve of 2015 elections to embed a clause that a sitting Governor or President must step down before seeking re-election. It is ludicrous that Governor Jang in an attempt to hoodwink the unsuspecting Nigerian public, is parading himself as the authentic chairman of the NGF. It is no rocket science to every discerning political observer, that the endorsement of Governor Jang's candidature by the PDPGF, Northern Governors' Forum and the signing of a secret document in may before the President does not in any way translate to actual votes cast and eventual victory in an election of the NGF. It makes a mockery of democracy that the anti-Amaechi group have spent so much time trying to confer legitimacy on an election loser.
It was puerile for the grumpy PDP governors to claim elections were rigged. Declaring Jang as the winner and chairman of the NGF which he shamefully lost is infantile. Many questions are begging for answers. They weren't embroiled in the elections, they could have walked away when they noticed it was being rigged. Why didn't they protest, threaten a walkout or stop the elections? The PDP governors are crying over spilt milk. If the same scoundrels masking as governors agreed to take part in the poll without raising any objection, then it is baseless to claim the paper for the ballot was not serialised. They could have refused to participate. Nigerians would like to see any evidence to buttress their school boys agitation that they were coerced to act against their will. The pro-Jonathan group that we've come to know in the last few months would never have sat back to watch the manipulation of the NGF elections. The puppet Governors have erased any doubt in the mind of Nigerians who for long have borne the brunt of their rapacious tendencies and greed for power, that the entrenchment of true democracy at all levels is not on their agenda as custodians of the people's mandate. The aftermath of an election conducted between 35 governors has left Nigerians fearing the worse for 2015.
The tacit backing they receive from the presidency is giving those governors the latitude for this brigandage. It would have made sense to reject the outcome of the election and seek redress through legal means rather than the opprobrious scenario in Abuja where Jang declared himself the winner, brandishing a secret document allegedly signed by 19 PDP governors whose signatures have not been verified by an independent jury to absolve forgery.
The PDP wouldn't have complained if they had won the elections. The failure of the puppet PDP Governors to close ranks with their colleagues under its leaky umbrella when it mattered most became their achilles' heel. Same scenario played out in the House of Representative which eventually threw up another of the President's antagonist, who is being tipped in some quarters to challenge Mr Jonathan as a Northern candidate in the 2015 elections; Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal. The ruling party, with majority legislators in the House, failed to convince its lawmakers to vote for the party's concensus candidate in the person of Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola. Mr. Presidents' failure in both election speaks volumes of his ability or lack of it to spin election results in his favour and prove to cynics and critics alike that he is in control of the party's machinery. Amaechi's victory is good for democracy, like that of Tambuwal, has affirmed the liberation of the NGF and House of Reps from the shackles of undue influence of the Villa. Nigerians owe Governor Amaechi a depth of gratitude for standing up against the foolery in his party and not joining the bandwagon.
With the split, the influence of the forum has been dealt a big blow, which has been the aim of the Pro-Jonathan group, who don't want Amaechi's name mentioned anywhere even in print as the NGF chairman. In all of this brigandage by the enemies of democracy who are actually the beneficiary of the fault lines they help create in the system, the average Nigerian, stands to benefit nothing from a fiasco that state funds will be deployed to service. Unfortunately, President Jonathan who is supposed to be mediating and calling his overzealous errand boys in the NGF to order is infact fanning the embers of this bunkum.
The presidency cannot look the other way when he has sowed a seed of discord with a clear mandate to his foot-soldiers in the NGF to either win elections or split the forum to discredit Amaechi. The splinter group by Jang fits perfectly into one of the many game plans drawn up by forces loyal to the President. Mr Jonathan cannot absolve himself from meddling in the affairs of the NGF. Forces loyal to the president are determined to railroad and stampede Amaechi out of the PDP with a suspension from the party already slammed on him. If his expulsion from the party is not witch-hunt then it becomes easy to draw the line between a scheme by Jonathan that alienates Rotimi Amaechi but embraces DSP Alamieyeseigha. That Mr President is estranging some Governors is the strongest indication yet that he is weak at building bridges which might be his undoing in 2015. The will power that he has so far failed to wield in transforming the country, he has been enamored to deploy to his delight in the persecution of perceived enemies of his administration which has become his pastime relegating developmental issues to the background.
President Jonathan like the democrat and a stickler to the rule of law that he claims he is must rise above political pettiness and ignore the sulking losers. Governor Amaechi on the other hand must take his travails as his own contribution towards nurturing our democracy to full fledge federalism. Already, he has shown uncanny courage. His political heroism and maverick has put him head and shoulders above the tantrums of political neophytes who indulge in smear campaigns and deliberate distortion of facts to arm twist the unsuspecting public. Henceforth, he can count on the support of Nigerians.