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Raymond Eyo: Jonathan’s Amaechi conundrum

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Raymond Eyo: Jonathan’s Amaechi conundrum

by Raymond Eyo

“It is ironic that Jonathan whose only equity was acquired from a humble disposition must fight dirty to remain in power… Jonathan’s biggest enemies are his aides who think they can win all battles to keep him and themselves in power.” 

– Dele Momodu

Goodluck Jonathan is not used to fighting tough political battles that threaten his immediate interest. He was made Deputy Governor without any effort of his own. He became Governor by dint of an Obasanjo-fabricated impeachment of his boss, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. He also was handpicked by the same Obasanjo to be Vice-President not because of merit but because, for the most part, Obasanjo’s third term bid having failed, the former president wanted an Aso Villa duo who could take orders from him. And, of course, Jonathan replaced the late President Umaru Yar’Adua after his demise in May 2010.

In fact, even Jonathan’s 2011 party primary victory was over a relatively weakened Atiku Abubakar who had just recently returned to the PDP fold and was therefore always going to have a tough time winning the hearts and minds of the party loyals. Similarly, his 2011 presidential victory was greatly helped by a split in the ranks of the opposition parties, especially considering that they had planned to field a single candidate.

Fast forward to 2013: Now, Jonathan, with his eyes fixed on a re-election bid in 2015, has realised that a truly tough political battle looms; one wherein his luck would not hold sway. Jonathan is in totally uncharted territory and, lacking the wisdom to deal with it, he has resorted to using desperate and despotic antics to navigate his way through.

As far as Jonathan is concerned, his most potent threat, at the moment, appears to be coming from his backyard of Rivers State – in the form of Governor Rotimi Amaechi who, it has been reported widely, is seriously considering being a running mate to one presidential aspirant, or another, from the North – implying that he doesn’t support Jonathan’s bid. Jonathan is ostensibly aware that an Amaechi candidacy will undercut massive support from his home base and likely diminish his chances of retaining the PDP’s presidential ticket next time around. By and large, this is the raison d’être behind Jonathan’s onslaught against Amaechi.

What Jonathan and his handlers fail to understand, however, is that Governor Amaechi, even with his own weaknesses, is a very smart and effective politician with a great followership. Amaechi has amassed a wealth of political manoeuvring skills, from his illustrious political career, so much so that he is very likely to trump Jonathan when push comes to shove. Amaechi was the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for a good eight years and also served a record two terms as the Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria. Similarly, besides being Governor for two terms, Amaechi is the current Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and wields enormous support amongst many of his peers.

If Jonathan ever desires to beat Amaechi, or any other opponent for that matter, at any future presidential contest, the smart way to do so will be by showcasing his record as president and seeking to convince voters that he has ‘achieved’ and has what it takes to do ‘more’. Unfortunately, the jejune way he is going about dealing with Amaechi will be his undoing.

For one, Jonathan’s actions will draw sympathy towards Amaechi both within and outside the PDP. In fact, that Jonathan attempted to ground Amaechi’s plane recently when he was with the Speaker of the House of Reps, Aminu Tambuwal, is indicative of the kinds of political foes he may be making for himself, in the process of taking on Amaechi.

Jonathan may have succeeded in forcefully ousting former Bayelsa Governor, Timipre Silva, from office but Amaechi is an entirely different ball game. Such is the quandary in which Jonathan is in now that not even impeaching Amaechi, if ever it could be possible, will reduce his political capital.

Many analysts and observers have advised Jonathan, and rightly so, to halt his offensive against Amaechi – that he is soiling the presidency by so doing, especially given the disingenuous reasons advanced for the same. Yet, Jonathan is unmoved. I make bold to state that Jonathan will crumble under the ricocheting weight of his attack on Amaechi!

Ultimately, Amaechi has more options and more political capital to leverage on, and challenge Jonathan when the die is cast. For one, he may remain in the PDP and foster a strong partnership with the many Northern governors disaffected by the very idea of Jonathan’s 2015 ambition or join the newly formed and very promising APC. As charismatic, popular and relatively younger (he’ll turn 50 on May 27, 2015) a politician as Amaechi is, he could likely be picked as a running mate to any potent candidate in either party. By that time, Jonathan’s Amaechi conundrum will have come a long way and be on course to bringing about the end of his luck-induced, results-shy political career.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @Raymond_Eyo

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