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2015 presidency: Who wants to displace Sambo?

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By Uche Ugboajah
Very recently, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, led the Party's North-west Integration Committee to Katsina State. That meeting with party stakeholders, as gathered, went very well, in spite of the attempt by some mischief-makers to smuggle in an agenda clearly out of the Committee's term of reference. The Tony Anenih-led Committee was mandated by the Party in Abuja to interact with members in each state of the zone.  It was asked to listen to all their grievances, complaints and frustrations without shutting out any dissenting voice.

The philosophical basis for the reconciliation mission is to build unity, trust and loyalty among the party faithful as the 2015 general elections are fast approaching.  But as much as the Party instructed the various zonal committees to listen to all shades of opinions, they were not asked to open up discussion on the matter of PDP's presidential candidature in the 2015 elections. Of course, it would be preposterous to do so because the matter had already been settled by the party!

Yes, the matter of PDP's presidential ticket for the 2015 election has been settled with the overwhelming endorsement of the President and Leader of the Party, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, by all the important organs of the Party. And when the Party endorsed President Jonathan who has now set a date for his declaration, there was no ambiguity in the fact that the presidential ticket is a united and indivisible one.  What this means in simple language is that PDP's endorsement of President Jonathan more than covers his ever loyal Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo.  It runs contrary to the logic of presidential democracy to offer President Jonathan the ticket for a second term in office on the one hand, and be discussing who runs with him on that ticket on the other hand.

This was the point that Anenih, as learnt from some of the people at the meeting, was making to the Katsina PDP leaders.  As a wise old man, experienced party leader and, particularly, the chairman of the conscience department-Board of Trustees-of the ruling party, Anenih recognises a trap when he sees one.  Ambushing him with the unnecessary suggestion of Governor Ibrahim Shema as replacement for Vice President Sambo was as unfair as it was mischievous.  Just as our Lord Jesus Christ did when the Pharisees planned to entrap him on the matter of tax-paying, Anenih found his depth and told the prodded Katsina PDP stakeholders that their governor was already a member of the influential Board of Trustees of the Party and reportedly closed the discussion on that matter!

And talking about Vice President Sambo, he has shown exemplary commitment and loyalty to the joint mandate the party and the Nigerian electorate gave to him and his boss, the President, in 2011. Unlike what we knew under the Obasanjo/Atiku presidency, there has not been one single complaint by President Jonathan against his vice president. Sambo has admirably carried out his functions as vice president with humility and single-minded purpose of helping his boss deliver on campaign promises and the expectations of the Nigerian people.  He has never shown any signs of trying to outshine or upstage his boss by building an alternative platform for himself as Atiku allegedly did with some of the state governors.   If anything, Vice President Sambo has consistently returned full marks on the three important qualities of a vice president namely; loyalty, loyalty and loyalty!

Those creeping about dropping their names and hiring moonlighting lecturers and ill-informed commentators to promote their chances of replacing Sambo as Jonathan's running mate in 2015, must therefore realise that they are travelling on a perfidious road that leads to nowhere.  Kabiru Mato, obviously a hired gun, must seek to be briefed appropriately before rushing to script falsehood and misrepresentations in his column. His piece, “Anenih's growing megalomania”, published in  Weekly Trust  of Saturday, October 15, 2014 falls into this discredited category.  Mato was not in the meeting he was writing about and yet he felt strongly offended by what he referred to as Anenih's disrespect and talking down on him and his people.  Tried as much as he did, by stating over and again that he was not aware of Governor Shema's vice presidential ambition, Mato only succeeded in coming across as one who was hired in a hurry, without adequate briefing.  And this perhaps explains the lack of logic, sound reasoning and deep insights you would normally expect from the writings of university teachers and political scientists.

In one breath, Mato cynically refers to Anenih's party, the PDP, as dying party and in another; he wants to decide whom the same party should field as President Jonathan's running mate in 2015.  As a political scientist, Mato ought to know that the decision of who should be Jonathan's running mate is beyond the people of Katsina alone to make. It is even beyond Tony Anenih and his committee members. And as long as the national party (which of course includes the members of Katsina PDP) is concerned, there can only be three conditions under which Sambo's continued position as Jonathan's running mate will become untenable. First is, if Sambo drops dead; second is, if Jonathan drops him; and third is, if Sambo declines to run with Jonathan in 2015.  As long as none of these conditions has been met, not even Mato's disparaging personal attacks on the PDP BoT Chairman, or his irredentist ramblings about an imaginary decimation of the North by imaginary enemies can change anything.

It is rather unfortunate that Kabiru Mato and perhaps his sponsors scheming against the Vice President would prefer intrigues and doublespeak to the candour and maturity that the Anenihs of this world are bringing to bear on our politics. There is no such thing as Anenih's growing megalomania, which Mato and his over-ambitious paymasters conclude as the reason for our backwardness as a nation. An important part of what is, however, endangering our growth as a nation is, the insatiable appetite of some state governors for power after ruling their states for eight years.  There is also the problem of unleashing on our children, lecturers who, for selfish pecuniary interests, find the simple theory of presidential democracy too abstract to understand!

Ugboajah, a political scientist, lives in Abuja and can be reached on [email protected]

 
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