President Jonathan and His New Men
Loyalty is a critical ingredient in advancing the cause of any organisation and ensuring its sustainance and survival. That is why every organisation demands absolute loyalty from its members. In party politics, for instance, loyalty is of utmost important for the success of political organisation.
Since 1999, loyalty and discipline have been lacking in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Over the years, we have witnessed situations where everybody appeared to be a king maker in his own kingdom and there was so much power tussle, and moles abounded in the party. This situation has inflicted a lot of damages on the party and it did not recover until recently when Dr Goodluck Jonathan emerged, through divine intervention, as the President of the country and leader of the PDP.
Since Jonathan's emergence, the party has adopted different approaches to party politics, a sharp departure from what obtained in the past. Ahead of the 2011 presidential primaries of the party, there were sustained agitations from some Northern elements that the region should be allowed to produce the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's successor to complete his second term in office. But they were effectively countered by some influential individuals with political values across the country who rallied to the support of Dr Jonathan in his quest to contest the 2011 presidential election. They included state governors and other committed party chieftains across the country. Prominent among them were Governors Theodore Orji of Abia State, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and Gabriel Suswan of Benue State.
Ahead of the 2015 general elections, with oppositions already gathering storm against Jonathan's alleged second term ambition, the President once again needs the support of his trusted allies to help his administration succeed on its mandate and to lead his troubled party in providing the country the leadership it deserves.
It is expected that such allies should be men and women of character with sound track records of performance. It was these virtues which President Jonathan found in Governors Shema, Suswan, Uduaghan, Orji , Akpabio as well as Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State that made him to recently appoint them into the national caucus of the PDP. It was a strategic appointment which the appointed governors, by all standards, merited. And it is expected that they would deliver considering their track records in governance in their respective states.
The appointment has also placed new responsibility on the governors, especially Governor Orji, as he is now the ear and eye of the South East geo-political zone in the party's inner caucus. It is also a responsibility all the party members from the zone have absolute confidence he will carry out with utmost commitment and dedication. The explicit confidence of President Jonathan and members of the party from the South East zone in Governor Orji's abilities to galvanise and mobilise the party in the zone for unity of purpose ahead the 2015 general elections was as result of Orji's humility, outstanding performance in governance against all odds and unquenchable desire for peace.
It is believed that these sterling virtues, which have been part and parcel of Orji's life right from childhood, first came to the President's attention when he was the Vice President to the late Yar' Adua. Then most state governors, including those from Jonathan's zone, had no regard for his office and his person. They abandoned him and were busy hobnobbing with the cartel running the government with Yar'Adua. But Orji who never believed in politics of desperation and suppression stuck with Jonathan even without any knowledge that he (Jonathan) would later emerge the President of the country.
Not many Nigerians know that Orji is very close to President Jonathan and he has never allowed the good relationship existing between them to get into his head. But he appreciates the fact that it has gone a long way in helping to bring a lot of developments to Abia State. And this has encouraged him to carry on the onerous task of governance in the state despite provocations from certain elements who are desperately in search of political relevance. Orji has been able to avoid and survive all the political landmines laid for him by his predecessor, and thank God the state has been the better for it and has remained crisis-free. Major political stakeholders in the state which include Mr Ojo Maduekwe, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Nkechi Nworgu, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, Chief Emeka Nwogu, Adolphuos Wabara and others, who before now were tagged Abuja politicians and were always at loggerheads with the government of the state, are now under one umbrella of unity, courtesy of Orji's politics of 'give and take'.
This development made it possible for the party to contest the 2011 general elections in the state for the first since 1999 as a united family and emerged overwhelmingly victorious. It was the same bond that has kept the party intact in the state since then. No wonder when the former governor of the state, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, attempted to return to the party through the backdoor, all the party stakeholders in the state strongly resisted it, because he (Kalu) did not follow due process. It is obvious that Orji has nothing against Kalu and nothing to fear if Kalu wants to return or if he returns to the PDP. But Kalu knows the right thing to do to be welcomed back into the party in the state. Whether Kalu should be allowed to return to PDP or not is not Orji's sole decision, it is that of the party major stakeholders in the state and zone whom Kalu offended while he was the governor of the state.
The thinking is that Kalu should simply set his ego aside, humble himself and apologise to party members. It is believed this will pave the way for his return to the party. The argument that Kalu is a foundation member of PDP holds no water, because "I get am before no be property". Besides, Kalu should realise that he is no longer a governor and that his successor and his office deserve respect from all. Why is it that of all the ex-governors in the country today, Kalu has been the only one fighting his successor and castigating the office of the governor with impunity, even when it is clear that his successor is a peaceful and humble man who can hardly hurt a fly.
With Orji's appointment into the PDP caucus, it is in the interest of all the party stakeholders in the zone to join hands with him to return the South East zone to the mainstream politics ahead 2015. This will attract more appointments and development to the zone before and after the 2015 general elections. The South East zone cannot afford to be in opposition because it is not in the tradition of the people. In any case, such has not paid the zone in the past and the present will not be different.
Mr Asaga, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Asaba, Delta State
Nnaji Obed Asiegbu
Special Adviser e-Governance & Strategy
to the Abia State Governor