GEJ, A dangerous president ?
If anyone has doubted whispers in opposition and diplomatic circles, and even in some government circles that in Goodluck Jonathan Nigerians have been saddled with an incompetent, incoherent, dissembling, confused and therefore dangerous president, his
vehement denial that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) was responsible for the bombs that went off in Abuja on October 1 - the very day the country was celebrating its Golden Jubilee and near the very spot of the celebration - his denial provides the most definitive proof to date of the veracity of those whispers.
This is not the first time the man, like his greatest benefactor, former president, General Olusegun Obasanjo , would live in self-denial and dissemble without blinking an eye. Both have denied that their party's constitution has a provision for the rotation of the presidency between the North and South in spite of the fact that it's all there in black and white in Section 7:2(c) of the document.
Both have been quick, too quick, to attribute their political fortunes solely to God even when everyone else knows that more than a bit of cunning, subterfuge and blackmail has been behind those fortunes, and God, in His infinite wisdom, has only granted their wishes.
However, whereas the benefactor has been coherent and clear-headed in his self-denial and dissembling, the protÃ©gÃ© has been anything but. He has apparently been so much blinded by his presidential ambition he does not seem to notice how he has all too often contradicted himself in his incoherent words and impulsive deeds.
Take, for example, his denial that his party's constitution has provided for the rotation of the presidency between the North and South. Not for the first time he told the party's chairman while submitting his bid at the party headquarters on September 27 that no such provision ever existed.
The presidency, he said somewhat incoherently, '...has never been zoned or maybe I should have read some sections of our constitution too. There is the concept of zoning and rotation...and it is not limited to the president. 'PDP zones offices they (sic) have absolute control or reasonable control.
'...The office of the President and other offices like the senate presidency, Speaker and National Assembly officers, PDP has reasonable control as long as we are in the majority.'
Putting as ide the president's apparent poor grasp of grammar and syntax, you'll need more than an average Intelligence Quotient to make sense of all this. When, for example, he says 'maybe I should have read our constitution,' did that mean he did not do so before telling the world that it has no provision on rotating the presidency between North and South or was it a Freudian slip ? And which constitution was he talking about, his party's or the country's?
And when he says that PDP zones only those elective offices it has absolute or reasonable control of and then proceeds to argue that zoning is not applicable to the presidency he not only contradicts his own words above as quoted by The Nation (September28). He also contradicts the undeniable fact that since 1999 his party has used all means, fair and foul, and has virtually succeeded in turning Nigeria into a one-party state. More importantly, it contradicts the widely publicized letter to then chairman of the party, Chief Audu Ogbe , by then chairman of its Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, more or less instructing Chief Ogbe to carry out the re-configuration of the party's zoning arrangement as dictated by its final decision to zone the presidency away from the South to the North well ahead of the 2007 elections.
As if the president's remarks on September 27 were not dissembling enough, he went on to tell CNN in an interview on October 2 that if his party had indeed zoned the presidency to the North three years ago he would never have succeeded Preident Umaru Yar'adua when he died in May this year.
CNN had asked him if he was not putting his personal ambition ahead of the stability and peace of the country by defying his party's zoning arrangement.
'Definitely not,' he said.
Then, drawing a rather infantile and irrelevant analogy with the riddle about which came first between the chicken and the egg - his words, 'The argument about zoning and the presidency is like the philosophical argument of the egg or the hen. Who (sic) came first?' - he said if rotation of the presidency existed in the country, '...another northerner would have taken over and I would have continued as vice-president.'
Coming from one of the greatest beneficiaries of his party's zoning arrangement, this was rather disingenuous. Obviously he conveniently forgot that he succeeded Yaradu'a not simply because the country's constitution said he should do so as vice-president. He did so because, whatever their motives, many Nigerians rose stoutly in defence of the position of the country's Constitution on what to do when its president seems permanently incapacitated.
The president should remember that even though the country's constitution gives every Nigerian the right to contest for any office in the land the same constitution does not dictate to parties how they should choose their candidates for those offices. That his own party chose zoning as a means of sharing its offices was very much in the spirit, if not the letter, of the country's constitutional provision of the principle of federal character.
When the president finally ended his pretence at ambivalence about whether he would run or not and declared his presidential bid on September 18 , he told the world that he was at Eagle Square, Abuja , venue of his declaration, '... to launch a campaign of idea not one of calumny. I have come to preach love not hate. I have come to break you away from the divisive tendencies of the past which has (sic) slowed down our drive to nationhood. I have no enemies to fight.'
His October 2 rejection, even when the jury is still out, of the claim by MEND that it was responsible for the October 1 bombs near Eagle Square that killed at least 12 and maimed many more simply because he desperately wants to blame it on his political rivals, is clear evidence, if any was ever needed, that the man is not only a man who says what he does not mean. It is evidence that we are truly saddled with a dissembling and dangerous president who would stop at nothing to divide and rule this country.
A man who, as Nosa Osaigbovo, Nigerian Tribune's ace columnist, says, 'hurries to the bell of impulse and ignores the sensory message to mediate,' (Tribune, July 9), a man who would apparently sanction an emerging pattern of the use of the country's security outfits against the opposition as exemplified by what Vanguard ( September 30 ) called 'The shame in Owerri' in reference to the abortion of an Igbo Summit in Owerri on September 27 because of suspicions that it would counter an earlier one in Enugu which endorsed the president's bid, a man who would do all this and more, such a man is a dangerous person to trust with the presidency of the black man's most populous and potentially richest country . Mohammed Haruna