by Garba Shehu
A thinker, Bhaghwad Gita wrote that there are three gates to self-destructive hell: lust, anger and greed.To say that the elected governors of the ruling party on one hand, and the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the Chairman of the most successful political party in independent Nigeria’s history are right now knocking on the door of self-destruction is to make an understatement. Any man who fails to overcome greed and desires and pursues them as blindly as we are witnessing with our political leaders will bring ruin not only upon himself but on the country at large.
“The fire in the mountain” or the “civil war in Africa’s biggest party, PDP” as the Nation newspaper on Monday called it may have had its seed sown in injustice. The failure to give justice is an invitation to anarchy. Here, we have a party which leadership is unafraid of authority including and in particular the courts of law, which is a sure recipe for anarchy. But the party’s biggest undoing as we are witnessing today, is the scramble for offices in the 2015 elections, which has pitted the PDP state governors against an ambitious President.
In 2015 or shortly after, the PDP will be graduating no less than seventeen (17) governors who have completed two terms of eight years. Those of them from the North, namely, Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi, Dr. Babangida Aliyu of Niger and Adamawa’s “Baba mai Mangoro,” Murtala Nyako are currently being mentioned as possible candidates in that election. To achieve their dream, one of two things must happen: either that the sitting President, Dr. Jonathan does the right thing by staying out of the race, to save the party and nation of unnecessary crisis of political domination or they take away the ruling party from him, in which case he does not have a platform on which to contest. From every indication, the latter of the two options, which is to chase him out of the party by seizing its control, is what they seem determined to do.
If the PDP Governors succeed in taking away the party from the President at this time, it will not be the first time they will be doing that. In fact, as for the PDP is concerned, its body and soul have been with the Governors since the late Umaru Yar’Adua accidentally became President. When he unexpectedly became the President and leader of the party, the greenhorn from Katsina Government House didn’t give a damn about the party, especially in regard to its funding. At some point, there were many who thought he harbored a utopian aspiration of liquidating the PDP and replacing it with another party with a radical or left-leaning aspiration. Power hates a vacuum and based on this, the Governors moved in with their money and seized the party by funding all of its activities.
Before this time, the PDP had been controlled from the Presidential Villa. Under Obasanjo, he first delegated its management and control to Vice President Atiku Abubakar. There was a good reason for this. Obasanjo came into office for the second time as a leader-statesman who, it was wrongly assumed had the midas touch to right the country’s wrongs. He himself pretended that he was above politics. This was before he became enchanted with fascism and yearned to be seen as an all-powerful, charismatic leader before whom party members and anyone else must bow. So he began by divesting Atiku of control of the party and taking over first through surrogates and later, directly by himself. He enforced order by deregistering members, issuing threats, thuggery, loss of office, assets forfeiture and jail terms for the recalcitrant some.
With election for the office of President less than three years ahead in 2015, and with Mr. Jonathan himself making every move towards that, it is not out of place to take it that he will borrow pages from Obasanjo, the author of the party’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Mr. Jonathan may be a bad President or a clueless one as it has become fashionable to say, but nobody should ask him whether he has the will and the dynamism to pursue power which one can say is principally the only thing his presidency is all about. To that extent, it would be foolish to write him off or assume that he, President Jonathan will not be able to take opportunistic, harsh decisions and actions against opponents in order to make political gains. Already, the Governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido has been put on notice by the EFCC’s arrest of his son.
As good politicians, PDP Governors who are toying with the idea of a bloody fight with Jonathan for the control of the party should, in their own interest, have a re-think. A good politician should be able to make adjustments without being handicapped by ego. At present, the President seems well disposed to Bamanga Tukur as PDP Chairman and may be prepared to swim or sink with him. This is easy to understand, considering that it was the President who in the first place brought Tukur against the wishes of the governors and the electorate. In power calculus, his own strategists may have convinced him the if he allowed Tukur to go down at this time, the next thing the insatiable governors will do is to chance him by asking for his head.
From all of the above, it is clear that both the President and the Chairman are on the one hand and the Governors on the other have hard, personal political choices to make. This is not about Nigeria or the common man. It is a titanic power tussle between two powerful forces and it is difficult at this time to predict who wins.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Garba Shehu