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HYPOCRISY OF CONSENSUS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY

PHOTO L-R: FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT, ALHAJI ABUBAKAR ATIKU; FORMER SENATE PRESIDENT, DR IYORCHIA AYU AND FORMER MILITARY DICTATOR AND PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT, GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA.
PHOTO L-R: FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT, ALHAJI ABUBAKAR ATIKU; FORMER SENATE PRESIDENT, DR IYORCHIA AYU AND FORMER MILITARY DICTATOR AND PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT, GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA.


These are certainly not the best of times for a group of sectional elements caught up in the frenzy that has dominated the political landscape over the 2011 presidency.

Apparently buffeted by politicking, the elements have embarked on desperate measures to assuage the tempest occasioned by the witty and gritty battle for presidential power.

This is no doubt in furtherance of their personal interests. But a large majority of the elite and even the masses are now politically perceptive of the antics of these elements who are seeking power at all costs.

Some of them held presidential power before while some were in strategic public offices at different levels. They deployed these positions to advance their personal fortunes.

Indeed, they elevated governance to the level of patronage of a few friends at the expense of the citizenry and the public good. Yet, they keep trying to justify the perfidy and looting they perpetrated while in office.

A large majority of our helpless people still complain that these elements pauperized the entire nation by deploying power to bolster their interests and those of their allies.

Unfortunately for these elements, history has already pronounced its judgment on them as Nigerians who had the opportunity to build their nation and its people but chose to fiddle with it.

Consider: they are now forcing themselves on the consciousness and sensibilities of their people and the entire Nigerian people with their irritating antics, one of which is the so-called consensus candidacy for the presidency.

The other is their pro-zoning mantra within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) despite the resolution of the controversy by the party at one of its recent National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings.

The NEC had resolved that President Goodluck Jonathan, even though from the South-South zone, is constitutionally qualified to contest for the presidency in 2011 and that regardless, the zoning policy stays.

The party thereby saved itself by maintaining a balance between constitutionality by not precluding the right of Jonathan to aspire for the presidency and the principle of zoning which is its internal arrangement for political accommodation and stability.

But these sectional elements, out of desperation, have mounted a pro-zoning campaign aimed at inciting the North against the South; in fact, the people of the North against Jonathan who typifies the hope of the South for the presidency.

In diverse ways, they have sustained their claim to the presidency on the basis of the undemocratic zoning arrangement. The claim, which is the hub of their campaign, is tendentious and divisive.

It is indeed worrisome that such a pernicious campaign would be sustained by these respected members of the PDP after the party had taken a decision. That also shows the scant respect the desperate elements have for the party.

For the records, those on this gravy train of probable political capital (they calculate that they could cause a collateral damage to Jonathan’s candidature) are former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Bukola Saraki and former National Security Adviser, General Aliyu Gusau.

The so-called consensus arrangement which is being tailored to produce one of them as the sole presidential standard bearer in the race for Aso Rock Villa, is intended to upset the applecart of Jonathan’s aspiration by mobilizing the northern delegates to jump on the bandwagon of angst and hate against him for purportedly usurping the slot of the North.

Despite subtle and overt intimidation, Jonathan declared his intention to run for the 2011 presidency at a carnival which has gone down in history as the single largest political gathering that the Eagle Square has witnessed since it was built.

He and his associates have also clearly explained that he (Jonathan) is running to complete the unfinished term of the presidential ticket that he jointly won with the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007. That term expires in 2015.

Interestingly, 2015 was the gambit that Babangida and Atiku, for instance, devised to curry the support of the Southeast: that they would ensure that presidency moves to the zone when that time comes.

The strategy was to turn the Southeast zone against Jonathan. But if Jonathan is not going to continue in office beyond 2015, the presidency will move back to the North.

Thus their Igbo-for-Presidency-in-2015 bait is already rendered impotent.

It is quite noteworthy that for the first time in over forty years, an Igbo military officer, General Azubuike Ihejirika is now the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Jonathan made that appointment. That is a more significant gift to the Igbos than IBB’s promise of 2015 which will never materialize.

The message of Jonathan to the South-East zone seems to be: "why should I wait till 2015 when I can do it now?" This strategic move by a President who was erroneously considered to be politically naïve rattled the sectional clique that is now ganging up to produce a consensus candidate. The arrangement demonstrates these men’s unabashed desperation to wrest power from Jonathan after having failed to stop him from throwing his hat in the ring with the wedge of zoning.

Unfortunately for the gang-up clique, there is a breath of fresh air among the younger elements both in the North and South of the country for a generational power shift. Such shift, in their estimation, is typified by President Jonathan. The preponderant position among the youth is that since Jonathan who is in the saddle is doing a good job and holding out a promise of a transformational leadership, he should be allowed to continue.

Members of the old guard, who brought the nation to her present state of impoverishment and backwardness, are working round the clock in a bid to throw spanner in the works. Their gang-up is anti-democratic; their motive questionable.

Significantly, both zoning principle and consensus arrangement do not bolster the spirit of democracy which encourages socio-political equality, especially as typified by one man, one vote.

Let as many as want to aspire be allowed to throw their hats into the ring. But I have this sneaky feeling that Jonathan will clinch the PDP ticket by a mile and go on to win the 2011 presidential elections massively.

Adejoh, a political analyst, contributed this piece from Kaduna and can be reached on [email protected]

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