Their vindictiveness, our gain
That President Jonathan is today edging towards the 1984 big brother is not in contest, what many are yet to come to terms with is the kickback that his resembling that big brother brings. His control of the federal government that gets 52 per cent of government's revenue allows him the privilege of being that master that can wipe erring subordinates into line.
That is why this is not exclusive to him. His predecessors, as a result being exposed to the same federal might, never hesitated in deploying it when and where it mattered most to them. Call it abuse of power if you may, it remains what it is.
Ours have become a case of 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely' like Lord Acton reckoned. Though we have the National Assembly and the Judiciary that are supposed to tone down the tempo of the president's power, we still know how absolute the president's powers is.
Cast your mind back to former president Olusegun Obasanjo when he was at the helm and you would have got a clear view of what I am implying. Those days, even a sophomore student of political science can readily tell you that what we then called democracy was anything but democracy.
This arises from the impunity with which the establishments were used against perceived political enemies. We know what became of the self-acclaimed governor-general of the Ijaw nation, Joshua Dariye of Plateau, Chris Ngige of Anambra, Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo to mention but a few just because they fell out with the then 'oga at the top'. Even his deputy, former vice president Atiku Abubakar was not spared the raw scorch of power when things fell apart between the two leaders.
The same absolute power was exploited to coerce the former Rivers State governor- Peter Odili into giving up his highly publicised aspiration to become president in 2007. If he hadn't backed down he would have been at the mercy of the EFCC. But I guess it was because of the skeletons in his closet(pardon the cliche) that he had to swallow his ambition. These are all cases of use and misuse of power- a classic example of how absolute power corrupted absolutely.
Today the situation hasn't changed one bit. The seemingly absolute power wielded by President Jonathan has continued to corrupt him absolutely. However, we are the better for it! Cool temper, you will understand and come to terms with me presently.
We are in the know of the travails of former Bayelsa governor- Timipre Silver. He fought the battle of his life to get a second term mandate but that he couldn't secure because he fell out with he that has the yam and the knife. Today, he is been interrogated by the EFCC with regards to a N48 billion fraud. I trust your intelligence to tell whose imprimatur you can attribute his ordeal to.
Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, had been quietly living his life and transforming Jigawa to the best of his ability, neither him nor any of his were arrested or (like some would say) harassed by the EFCC. But, immediately campaign posters linked him to the 2015 presidential election that was when his eldest son would be arrested for money laundering.
A coincidence? You decide. Reading the handwriting on the wall, Governor Lamido quickly dissociate himself from any plot to contest the 2015 presidential election. Since then not a rider nor a kicker has been heard of his son's money laundering case. Eventuality indeed!
The predicaments of Rivers State governor- Rotimi Amaechi is a common knowledge. Legion are his afflictions since he sinned against the power-that-be. Please don't ask me the sin(s) he committed
The security details of key members of his government were withdrawn, his victory at the Nigeria Governor's Forum(NGF) was denied him, the NGF was made to be in factions, he is suspended from his party and there are schemes to have him impeached albeit the state assembly is in support of him.
Absolute power still corrupting absolutely.
For any still in doubt as regards the fear that governors have of the president's powers, let them ponder on why 19 governors would endorse the president's man in the open while in the secret ballot three of them demurred. It is indeed because of their fears for he that 'can do and undo'.
The foregoing notwithstanding, may I announce to you that our country stands the chance of being the better for it when state power is exploited in this manner. This is because it deters the governor who ordinarily is corrupt from being corrupt for he knows that that would mortgage his freedom to a large extent.
I dare say that if Governor Amaechi were to be so corrupt or inefficient, he wouldn't have lasted this long in the Rivers State government house. If his party could suspend him for sacking the chairman and councillors of Obio-Akpor Local Government which was reportedly done by the state legislature, imagine what they would have done if he weren't above board.
They succeeded in the case of Timipre Silver because there was something to hold onto. Had he been a performing governor who won the heart of his people, their scheming would have been tantamount to the last gubernatorial election in Edo State.
The vindictive nature of this power-that-be knows no bounds. It will be recalled that after the former minister of education Oby Ezekwesili accused government of wasting the $67 billion foreign reserve left for it by the Obasanjo administration, this administration lashed out at the former minister for the N458.1 billion that accrued to the ministry of education under her watch which they maintained produced no achievement.
They even spoiled for a probe of her stewardship at the ministry of education. Remember also that it was rumoured that former PDP national chairman Vincent Ogbolafor was made to resign because he spoke out against Jonathan contesting the 2011 election. Before you could say Vincent, ICPC had already arraigned him at a Abuja High Court on a 17-count criminal charge involving N2.3 billion fraud said to have been committed by him when he was a minister during the Obasanjo regime.
These people are experts at dusting up files and digging up dirts to be hurled at their target when the time is right. Those who ordinarily want to throw stones are restrained because they live in glass houses. But if they must throw, then glass houses should not be their place of abode.
It is in this light that those who are today serving in government at various levels have no option but to be diligent and true to their callings. That is if they value their rights to be voted for and to pass information. If they thought that the restrictions would lasts only while they are in office, they would be deceiving themselves. Who knows, the restrictions may even extend beyond the afore-mentioned two areas in the future.
As for that power-that-be, the one whose absolute powers have so absolutely corrupted, leave him to the next power-that-be. Then would you see him speaking with his tongue in check. It is even possible that he would then become the next characterisation of the saying: what goes round, comes around.
Perchance, that is another route to the maturity of our democracy.
Ugochukwu writes from Lokoja.