JONATHAN GOODLUCK AND PDP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES: ISSUES AND THE PROBABLE OUTCOME
As political parties are bracing up for the 2011 general elections, the obvious is that happenings within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have more than ever occupied the minds of pundits. Doubtless, this owes to the drastic and far-reaching changes in the political chemistry and physics of the PDP arising as a result of the death of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
This article, which though is one of the series on the 2011 elections, navigates in the specifics, and within the broad spectrum of electoral mathematics cum political calculus, how, on the one hand, the issues or better put, the consequentials arising from the aforesaid might affect the political mathematics of the PDP primaries. On the other, it uses the elements of political calculus to argue how the political fortunes of Jonathan Goodluck might suffer a terrible set back during the PDP presidential primaries. It is essential that point out that the line of thought argued in this article is also based on the psychology of political party and political elites, and the question of power and its sustainability. A number of factors, incidental and accidental, contributed into the selection or more appropriately, coronation of the indisposed late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as the 2007 Presidential flag bearer of the PDP.
It is worth recounting that prior to Yar’Adua’s imposition and subsequent coronation as the PDP flag bearer in early 2007, there was the then paramount ruler, Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, who, after he was enthroned based on certain concessions, compromise and consensus wanted to manipulate his ways in order to stay beyond the constitutionally permitted eight years in office. It should be also reiterated that such political maneuvering was also against the PDP’s North-South principle of power shift and power rotation, whose first beneficiary was Olusegun Obasanjo.
In order to achieve his dictatorial whims and subversive caprices of tenure elongation, Obasanjo’s first joker was to discredit and ditch the PDP’s principle of power shift and alternation, which, in the first instance, produced him. To this extent, Obasanjo treacherously raised the hope of the South-South that it was theirs to produce the President of the country in 2007. To achieve this elusive feat, the South-South People’s Assembly was formed to energetically advance the debate, and extensively explore how the realization of the 2007 South-South Presidency could be expansively prosecuted through the use of dialogue, debate, bargaining and compromise.
The above development drew the irk of the North who felt shortchanged, therefore, the reactions and counter steps taken to make sure that the PDP’s gentleman agreement was honoured. The late Sunday Awoniyi was saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the North was not shortchanged by the almighty Obasanjo. Awoniyi’s Arewa Consultative Forum was also faced with the herculean challenge of unifying the North as Obasanjo had succeeded in pitching on the one hand, the core political North against the minority political North and on the other, the predominant Muslim north against its Christian dominant section. Obasanjo’s instigated tension within the North got to a stage that pundits unanimously declared that gone were the days of the united monolithic North.
Hoping to reap from Obasanjo’s “large-heartedness,” the South East also queued up for the Presidency, hence, joining the South-South in teaming up against the North.
With the ensued regionalizing and dichotomization of the politics of succession, Obasanjo deftly manipulated the PDP political chemistry and perhaps, the entire political landscape, thereby, inducing the political tension, which gave birth to the pre-2007 elections’ South-North dichotomy. As it was anticipated by Obasanjo and his cronies, the North-South succession struggle would create a deep-seated political mistrust and sow a seed of enmity between the North and the South such that the only way this would be resolved would be to accept Obasanjo’s bid for tenure elongation.
It was therefore not surprising that while the North-South rift was deepening, the plan to doctor the Constitution in order to allow Obasanjo stay beyond the legally permitted term was launched. Obasanjo was hoodwinked as to think that things were working in his favour as support poured in from the political bigwigs in the South and the North who declared public supports for his undemocratic bid to stay put in office.
But events that ultimately led to the decisive and humiliating collapse of Obasanjo’s self-perpetuating tenure elongation agenda showed that the North-South rift was not as anticipated Obasanjo latter, able to destabilize the polity and paved way for Obasanjo’s agenda to sail through. In fact, the death of the tenure elongation agenda was plotted by both the combined forces of Northern and Southern politicians, among whom were those who had pledged public support for Obasanjo’s self-perpetuating agenda.
In the aftermath, Obasanjo who was forced to eat the humble pie made a swift volte-face by reverting to the PDP zoning arrangement which he had fruitlessly planned to ditch. Based on this and the need to split the Atiku-led People Democratic Movement (PDM), Obasanjo unilaterally chose Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as the PDP 2007 Presidential flag bearer. Obasanjo also made sure that nearly all of those who stood in his way were either disgraced to defect from the PDP or relegated from height of political significance to the fringe. Some were humiliated by the EFCC and some, were removed from office through militarized-democratic process. There were also a sizeable number of the anti-Obasanjo forces that were denied return tickets.
Obasanjo who was well aware that his militaristic handling of the party’s affairs would affect the outcome of the 2007 elections, resorted to use the do-or-die approach to manufacture the outcome of the 2007 elections which produced the late President Umar Yar’Adua. In fact, Obasanjo at his vengeful best, made sure that most of those that opposed sank with him. For the records, it was this political spectre, neither the records nor the political experience of Goodluck Jonathan that saw him emerged as the running mate of Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. One is least surprised that in the leaked US diplomatic cable, Jonathan himself owned up by pronouncing that, “I was not chosen to be Vice President because I had good political experience… I did not… There were a lot more qualified people around to be Vice President.”
Realizing the near irreparable havoc which Obasanjo vengeful politics has caused the PDP, upon his “emergence” as the President of the country, the late President Yar’Adua facilitated the inauguration of the post 2007-elections’ PDP National Peace and Reconciliation Committee that was chaired by Dr. Alex Ekwueme.
The scope and the subsequent recommendations of the reconciliation Committee provided the need to re-admit aggrieved stake holders/members of the PDP who as a result of the Obasanjo’s instigated palaver ‘were either forced to leave the party or those who left out of frustration.” It also provided for the party’s leaders, who, based on Obasanjo’s intrigues were not allowed to re-register during the PDP 2005/2006 registration exercise, and aggrieved party stakeholders/members, who, based on the arrangement that produced Yar’Adua as the President of Nigeria were relegated to the background. It was only by re-admitting these members and institutionalizing certain mechanisms needed to deepen internal democracy within the PDP that the party can be strengthened and positioned for greater heights, Ekwueme’s Committee concluded. This proposal was and after the death of the late President Yar’Adua implemented and it is still being implemented. It was on this basis that amongst others, Atiku Abubakar was re-admitted into the Party, and granted waiver to seek election as one of the Party’s Presidential aspirants. To also safe himself Obasanjo’s liability, the late Yar’Adua also made moves which before his death, made him to keep and sustain distance with the former and also render him somehow insignificant in running the affairs of the Party.
Despite the fact that some aggrieved stakeholders made a comeback into the Party before Yar’Adua’s death, for one reason or the other, the reconciliation effort did little to abate/ fix the problems that were rocking the Party.
Some of the reasons why this happened include the fear of reappraisal attack from perceived foes- old and returnees, refusal to effect changes in the party hierarchy-state and federal that was foisted by Obasanjo and his lackeys, personality clash between aggrieved stakeholders and those who emerged against the backdrop of the crises, pedigree factor, mutual mistrust and acrimony, refusal of returnees and those on ground to shelve their factional affiliations/loyalties, outcome of the 2007 election, insistence that party congresses be re-conducted at all levels and that Obasanjo be either relieved as the BoT Chairperson or his influence whittled down.
While Yar’Adua was battling to fix these seemingly irreconcilable problems and other pig-headed ones, his fragile health incurably plummeted; hence, he was rendered incapacitated to carry out any responsibility expected of him as the President of the country and leader of the PDP.
Most active players who knew Yar’Adua would not survive the illness started strategizing on how to make political mileage out of the situation, therefore, the intrigues that trailed the period which lasted between the sickness and eventual death of the latter.
The politicking that lasted this period created multiple centres of authority within the PDP, and hence, the evolution and consolidation of new power blocs within the party. In the consequence, the crisis within the party escalated and instantaneously took a new turn as the question of whose turn is it, within the geopolitical zones in the PDP, to produce the party’s Presidential flag bearer in the 2011 elections. This was one the fears why the transition of power to Jonathan as acting President was somehow delayed. Jonathan who did nothing to douse the apprehension also misguidedly heightened the tension arising from this Zonal/PDP Presidential flag bearer question by making moves which strongly indicated that he was not ready to follow subsisting party’s arrangement. Again, the party became polarized, now, along two major lines - pro-Jonathan and pro-Zoning camps and many other sub-interest axes which are directly or indirectly attached to the two dominant streams. Obasanjo and some of his boys are known to be on the side of those who wanted zoning jettisoned so that Jonathan can run for the Presidency of the country under the PDP. This singular factor, that is, Obasanjo’s support for Jonathan also spiraled the in-party crisis as aggrieved stakeholders and all of those who were once victims of Obasanjo’s iron-fisted and draconian hold on the party re-grouped to salvage their political careers from suffering another nightmarish set back.
The factors that have been so far briefly highlighted have brought about gargantuan and across-the-board changes in the political physics (balance of forces) and chemistry (stability) of the PDP. It is only the politically naïve that can challenge the veracity of the fact that this developments are to a large extent, responsible for the crises which are affecting almost all chapters of PDP.
At this stage, that is the second part of this article, attention will, on the one hand, now be focused on how the above factors will affect Jonathan’s political fortune during the PDP primaries. On the other, some indexes of political calculus- political desire, political cover, political cost, political risk, and political commitment will be used to the same effect.To start with, one may be tempted to ask this leading question, why is it that the Ibadan PDP chapter is embroiled in a serious inter-party crisis that has largely unsettled and making it electorally weakened? As history and nature of the current Oyo PDP crisis suggest, the root of the problem is indisputably associated with the politics that led to the dethronement of Ladoja and how Alao Akala was against the wish of founding fathers/gladiators of the Oyo PDP imposed by both Obasanjo and late Lamidi Adedibu. The aggrieved gladiators which comprises ex- Governor Rashidi Ladoja, High-Chief Lekan Balogun, former Deputy-National Chairman, South of the party, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo, and a former Minister for Special Duties, Elder Wole Oyelese, have constituted selves into a united strong power bloc whose main pre-occupation is to scuttle Akala’s second term agenda. This strong anti-Akala power bloc has a poor opinion about the PDP national leadership for its inability to enforce the implementation of the Ike Nwachukwu-led National Peace and Reconciliation Committee on the Oyo PDP crisis. The Nwachukwu’s report recommended that the way out of the Oyo impasse was to dissolve the existing party structure and replace it with a new one whose composition will be based on a sharing formula that allows for even representation of all major camps that were involved in the crisis. The execution of this resolution which was welcomed by all was however rejected and frustrated by Akala who feared all other camps can easily unit together and effectively takes over the party structure from him. In the consequence, it dawned on him that his second term bid would become a political mirage, hence, the desperate search for a way out of this political dilemma. As a way of this political fix, Akala felt the only way he could beat those opposing him to the 2011 PDP guber race is to align his interest with Jonathan’s own and to his grace, he was able to sell his dummy to the latter. Since Alao Akala is enjoying the backing of Jonathan Goodluck, it is only natural that both would work hand-in-hand for the realization of each other’s gubernatorial and Presidential aspirations. This Akala-Jonathan partnership is not without its consequences because it is such which has generated its own opposite. This opposite, which includes the anti-Akala forces in Oyo state and anti-Jonathan camps would coalescence together to slug it out with Alao Akala at the state level and Jonathan, at the federal level. In effect, this will affect the number of Oyo delegate votes that Jonathan can swing in his favour during the PDP Presidential primaries.
The PDP camp in Ogun state is also enmeshed in internal crisis which has pitched against one another, party stakeholders. Governor Gbenga Daniel who is the South-West Coordinator of Jonathan’s campaign is at the centre of this crisis which has amongst others, Olusegun Obasanjo, Dimeji Bankole, the Minister for Commerce and Industries, Chief Jubril Martins Kuye, as political foes. The crisis has divided the Party into two state-factional leaderships, and split the State’s House of Assembly into camps with each having its own Speaker. There are the G-16 lawmakers with Mr. Tunji Egbetokun as its Speaker and the G-9 lawmakers whose Speaker is Mr. Soremi Coker. Both camps want to produce Gbenga Daniel’s successor and one would surely fight back if the other gets the ticket at the expense of the other. As expressed Chief Babatunde Fadun, the Public Relations Officer of the Ogun People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who exonerated Nwodo of any wrongdoing, Jonathan has done little to solve the crisis. Chief Fadun is reported to have said, “I was at the meeting where the leaders of the party met with the President and he said he would do something about the situation. But that is yet to materialize. So, if anything happens in Ogun State, it is the failure of the leadership to make things work.” Fadun has spoken what is known to observers of events as the feelings of most of the stakeholders in Ogun state PDP. Given this impression and that interest is the only permanent thing in politics; therefore, it is stating the obvious that this will considerably affect the number of Ogun delegate votes that Jonathan can swing in his favour.
The PDP leadership’s inability to manage internal crisis as expressed by Gbenga Daniel is one reason why they also lost Ekiti. Accordingly, he submitted, “the worst disaster is losing Ekiti State. If we are not careful, and God forbid, it could be the end of our party in the South West. The capacity of our party to manage crisis is nil. We are all endangered species. There is no doubting the fact that the internal crisis within Ekiti PDP stakeholders and their poor opinion on the party’s national leadership won’t encroach on the delegate vote Jonathan can garner from this state. Similar trends as it is with the foretasted exist in other chapters of the South-West PDP state chapters. Therefore, it may be argued that contrary to media claims and the perceived endorsement of Jonathan, the latter, it may be argued, is not in the real control of the PDP delegates’ votes in the South-West.
Same observation as it is with the South-West may not be the case with the South-South where Jonathan hails. He is the favored candidate and the probability is high that he might probably get nearly all the delegate votes from this region. However going by the recent outburst of Pa Anenin, there is possibility that some forces within the South-South might be working underground against the interest of Jonathan in this region. Anenih, one of the game’s veterans said that “Anybody from the South-South who does not vote for this ticket (Jonathan/Sambo), God will not give him good luck. That day, we have the boxes, Bayelsa, Edo, so when you put your ballot paper inside the box, we will know what you have done. Akwa Ibom box will be counted, Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan! We don’t expect to be here, not even by mistake, somebody is saying Atiku. We will identify the handwriting of that person. If it is a finger print, we will trace it. I hope you know I was a Commissioner of Police! We will trace that person who made that terrible mistake!” I leave readers to ponder on why Anenih issued this threat and how probably, this correlates with the real and not the sensationalized South-South PDP delegates’ voting pattern? Is this not suggestive that some delegates and forces are known not to be disposed to Jonathan’s dream? By issuing such threat in the public, does is it not implies that Jonathan’s challengers are exerting increasing presence in the South-South?
The South-East one may safely conclude, would surely trade off Jonathan in order to realize their 2015 presidential dream. In other words, the South-East PDP will trade their vote for the North so that the latter can support them in claiming the same mandate in 2015. One way to look at this issue logically is from the prism of a South-East running mate, which from all indications, is a possibility foreclosed to Jonathan. By refusing to settle for a South-East running mate, the obvious is that Jonathan will be trading the North for the South-East based on an understanding that by 2015, he, Jonathan, will offer his support for the 2015 Northern presidency agenda. Therefore, based on the political mathematics of concession, the foreclosure of the Igbo running mate option by Jonathan strongly indicates the foreclosure of the 2015 Igbo presidency. Therefore, a step towards realizing the 2015 Igbo presidency is the running mate question as this is a bargaining strength upon which the foundation of the 2015 can be built and allegiances traded. On the basis of this, it is wise to predict that Jonathan will lose a considerable number of delegate votes from the South-East.
Another way to look at the logic of the above contention is to raise the question why has 2011 presidential discourse and politics being reduced to the South-North debate? Is this not indicative of how the zoning question and the 2015 presidency constitute the political pressure which determines who gets what in 2011? Why has Jonathan refused to make a promise on the 2015 Igbo presidency? Is this not suggestive of what he has traded off in order to achieve his 2011 presidential dreams? Given this reality, is it expected that the Ndigbo would accept this without exploring option that can brighten their chances of realizing the 2015 Igbo presidency dream? However unfortunate it may be that such indexes are determining and shaping the outlook of our politics, disregarding these indexes might be tantamount to divorcing issues from the existing political context, historical reality and situational psychology.
With respect to the Northern delegate votes, it is worth recounting the recent statement credited to the Director General of the Jonathan/Sambo campaign organisation Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida. During a recent campaign tour in the South-South, Tafida said, ““Mr. President you are lucky. You are lucky because these people you see here love you. However, there are challenges, challenges in the sense that other zones are competing with you. The north-west is competing with you. The North-East where we think we have an aspirant there is competing with you. Believe you me, the North- East (Atiku) may even beat you in the polling zone, therefore you should be careful! Be careful! (turning towards Jonathan). They are working very hard! They are working very hard…”
Tafida was speaking the obvious when he listed the North-East and North-West as zones that are competing with Jonathan. These are zones where the zoning question bears a significant influence, hence, the prospect that Atiku will amass a stunning majority of the delegate vote from this zone. Although the North central is opened to these two PDP top contenders, giving Atiku’s political spread and aged-long relationship with stakeholders in this zone, he stands a good chance of having upper hand over Jonathan in this zone. There are even other political actors from the North-West and North-East who can assist Atiku in penetrating the North-central. To the exception of the power of incumbency, Jonathan’s camp may be said to be lacking such political reservoirs. Besides this factor, regional, ethnical and regional sentiments will strongly influence the voting dimension in these zones, therefore, another reason why the overwhelming majority of the delegate votes would be lost by Jonathan.
At this juncture, the indexes of political calculus would be put to use in analyzing how the chances of Jonathan’s emergence as PDP flag bearer will be effected. The first of these indexes is political risk which as defined a source is “an unquantifiable risk that future events will cause a current political commitment to look bad, with the benefit of hindsight, and thus incur a future political cost from a past action.”
Going by my previous analysis of what the PDP went through or the grounds it lost owing to the crisis instigated by Obasanjo during his hey days as the number one man in PDP, the party’s stakeholders and its delegates will be affected by the psychology of this past and the consequential crises that might trail the abandonment of zoning which is enshrined in the party’s constitution.
Zoning, power sharing and rotation philosophy between the South and the North as pragmatic analyst would concede, was the focal point that underlined the formation of the PDP and upon which its continued existence is hinged. This is expressly stated in Article 7, subsection 2c, of the PDP constitution, which states that "in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices, and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels."
The validity of the above claim on zoning vis-a-vis the relevance of zoning to the formation and sustenance of PDP as a political party will become clearer when Article 7, subsection 2c quoted above is read against a preamble in the party’s constitution which reads, “ “to create socio-political conditions conducive to national peace and unity by ensuring fair and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, to conform with the principles of power shift and power sharing by rotating key political offices among the diverse peoples of our country and evolving powers equitably between the federal, state and local governments in the spirit of federalism.”
Readers are implored to bear in mind that the PDP was formed based on the collective interest of some elites with varying religious, political, and ethnical background whose common goal is to ensure that the leadership of the country is produced and retained within their circle. It was with this spirit that the concept of zoning, power sharing and rotation was conceived by the PDP stakeholders and founding fathers. In fact, this is a permanent interest that is common and topmost on the agenda setting of any political parties. To achieve this on the long term basis, and also sustain the life of the PDP, then, the principle of zoning was devised so that both a sort of balancing would be maintained between the South and the North.
Therefore, if one man’s ambition will create an implosion that will eventually affect the interest of the elites within the PDP, cause the PDP to lose its national dominance and peradventure accelerate the collapse of the PDP, then, it is definite that at the decisive moment, such ambition would be sacrificed.
Card carrying and non-card carrying members of the PDP are aware of how Jonathan’s ambition has created serious cracks within the rank and file in the PDP, therefore, based on the factor of political risk, it may be argued that the probability is on the high side that most party delegates and stakeholders would work against the emergence of Jonathan as the PDP presidential flag bearer.
Another way to reconsider the above argument is to use the yard stick of political cost which is defined by a source as “a measurable and unavoidable expenditure of political capital for taking an action (political commitment).” The PDP’s ultimate political commitment is to retain the forces in the North and the South that are central to its continued national dominance. This is defining point of PDP’s political capital without which its objectives on the power question and national dominance cannot be achieved. Therefore, as it is normal that individuals’ conflicting interests will always exist in a political setup, it is also natural that in so much the permanent party’s interest remains, certain individual political ambitions/interests will be traded as a forgone cost in favour of that which makes it possible for the permanent interest to be sustained.
Based on this logic, it is my take that Jonathan’s ambition would at the end of the day, be made the political alternative forgone which simultaneously, is needed to preserve the soul and body of the PDP. In other words, by working out the defeat of Jonathan at the PDP primaries, it would be considered by the party’s elites and stakeholders that the PDP will be deriving the value of the best other use to which Jonathan’s emergence would have caused them. Therefore, Jonathan’s ambition would, based on the relationship between PDP’s permanent interest and the concept of political cost, in preference to the concept of zoning-the opportunity cost- which is needed to get the spirit and body of PDP together, be made as the alternative forgone.
One of the several recent developments which establishes the veracity of this argument was how the PDP responded to the threat of IBB that he will dump the party if the concept of zoning is not respected. The party was well aware of the bandwagon effect that this will create and its imminent effect on the life of the party, and its permanent interest as identified in this piece, therefore, the reason why a day after the threat was issued by IBB, an emergency meeting of PDP National working committee was conveyed to discuss this matter on the 10 December, 2010.
Emissaries were in the wake of some political realities sent to IBB not to leave this party. The reason why such decision was taken, one will contend, was not as a result of the overbearing influence of IBB within the PDP. Rather, it is more politically wise to reason that this was based on the sensitivity of the basis on which he, IBB, predicated his quest to leave the party. This reason as stated by IBB’s is because jettisoning zoning, “simply means that they reject (zoning) and are therefore not prepared to conform to the principles of power shift and power sharing by rotating key political offices amongst the diverse peoples of our country and devolving powers equitably between the Federal, State and Local Governments in the spirit of federation. …If the Party has become so helpless in the face of these gross violations of its own constitution by its officers and its highest elected representative, then, many of us shall have no alternative but to reconsider our continued membership of the Party.” Based on this statement extract, one may therefore not require uncommon wisdom to decipher what may become of Jonathan’s ambition when the PDP presidential primaries are held.
Another argument which dovetails the above conclusion is to recount that the crises which started with Obasanjo, cascaded during the election that produced Yar’Adua and this was somehow well managed during the latter’s reign. However, after the latter’s death, the crises imploded with Jonathan’s bid to overrule the party’s constitution so that he can emerge as the party presidential flag bearer. This factor has generated series of reaction and wave of spiraling sentiment which has portrayed Jonathan’s candidacy as one that is against the party’s concept of zoning, and such which is aimed at undermining the Northern interest. It is on this premise that those who are opposing Jonathan’s candidacy on the platform of PDP are premising their argument and this was the foundation upon IBB predicated his threat that they made the PDP to send a delegation which tried to pacify him to remain within the party’s fold. This factor, it is obvious, is potent and critical to continued sustenance of the psychology of PDP as a political party, the party’s soul and spirit and the machinery it relies on, to sustain its hold on the politics of Nigeria.
Since Jonathan has power of incumbency to his advantage, one would expect him to fight this issue using all arsenals at his disposal. Therefore, it is essential that this factor be examined, hence, the focus on the next index of political calculus, political desire. One other factor that might work against Jonathan is his low political desire scorecard’s rating. Here, political desire is, as defined by a source, “an elected official’s interest in seeing a particular issue successfully addressed.” At the party level, it is a known fact that Jonathan has demonstrated leadership inability to manage the crises within the party. Even evidences would be provided to argue how the internal party crises that are rocking the PDP has increased in manifold since Jonathan’s reign as the party’s number one person. Similar argument might be raised on how Jonathan has not been able to manage the nation’s economy and insecurity. All these will reduce the potency of the incumbency factor and hence, compromise the chances of Jonathan when the die is to be cast.
Another way to argue how the incumbency factor will not work in favour of Jonathan is to take a critical look on some happenings between Jonathan and PDP governors. One would wonder that the governors who bought Jonathan’s application form, and graced his declaration as a “mark of support for his candidacy” were the ones that Jonathan later forced to “endorse” his candidacy. Jonathan who was fully conscious of the fact that he hardly enjoys the real political support pledged him by the PDP governors, was so helpless that at a crying point, he issued the following statement:
You have given assurances of support but some of you are secretly campaigning for Atiku. I can’t stand here and be humiliated by you. Everything I have asked for, you have refused to give me. No president anywhere has been treated by his party the way you are treating me.” … “I am the captain of this boat. I am not going down alone. I am going to sink this boat and go down with all that are in it.
From the first part of the above statement of Jonathan, it is obvious that Jonathan knew that he does not enjoy the real support of most the PDP governors. It also shows that he is fully aware of the fact that he would be defeated at the primaries and that he does not enjoy the party’s real support. It was on the strength of this reality that he issued the threat, “I am the captain of this boat. I am not going down alone. I am going to sink this boat and go down with all that are in it” which was aimed at caging governor and force them to make a retreat from their decisions not to back him. The governors who were of course smarter and who have learnt from experience of the past decided to issue another false declaration which was so much sensationalized by the media without much analysis of the authenticity of such endorsement. It may even be asked that but Obasanjo succeeded in using incumbency to achieve his succession agenda.
First, it seems more apt that why attempting to find the most logical explanation why Jonathan might not succeed with the same factor, to bear in mind that Obasanjo unlike Jonathan was over a long period of time able to manipulate and work out the exit of the gladiators/political caterpillars that were opposed to his agenda. In this case of Jonathan, those gladiators are not only back in the fold of the PDP, but are tirelessly working and freely operating as effective power blocs who are plotting how to pay back Obasanjo in his coin and in effect, this will affect Jonathan’s agenda.
Also, another reason why the incumbency factor might not really work in favour of Jonathan is that the time factor needed to put this to effective use is not on the latter’s side and most importantly, Jonathan, unlike Obasanjo, is not a veteran of the game. But of all these factors, it is my take that the most significant one that might really undermine Jonathan’s incumbency factor is that Jonathan, unlike Obasanjo, lacks what it takes to force his political opponents on exile from the party or render them effectively silenced. He has tried this and failed on many occasions. The same tactics being highlighted was deplored by Tinubu when he wanted to hijack and dismantle the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) structure and similar trend, may, if further researched, be found in the politics of the first, second and third republics.
Consequently, if the endorsements and what has been sensationalized about Jonathan’s chances are real, I leave readers to wonder why was it that the PDP governors frustrated Jonathan’s attempt to change the order of conduct of the PDP primaries? Readers are also tasked to wonder, why was it that Jonathan desperately attempted to get the constitution of the country changed by effecting major changes in the electoral act? Were these maneuvers not indicative of the fact that Jonathan and the PDP governors are playing hide and seek game?
All of these questions and other factors argued above are instructive and pointers to the fact that Jonathan has enjoyed more support in the imaginary world than in the real world of politics where decision will be taken on the probable emergence as PDP presidential flag bearer.
The Writer, Mr. Adebiyi Jelili Abudugana, a formal UNILAG student union leader can be reached through [email protected]