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Abba Mahmood: From the village to the villa


Abba Mahmood: From the village to the villa

by Abba Mahmood

President Goodluck Jonathan has come a long way since he left his village, Otuoke, in Bayelsa State to the presidential villa in Abuja. He was jointly elected with the late Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007. He was elected for a second term in 2011. Some of his supporters are insisting he should contest again in 2015 which, in reality, means they want him to go for a third term, something that is alien to the constitution. He was almost certain to continue residing in the villa until he got Bamanga Tukur as national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. With the way Tukur has been handling the affairs of the party, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Dr Jonathan is leaving the villa for his village.

The PDP’s special convention of August 31, 2013, marked the beginning of the end of the PDP as a credible platform. On that day, some governors of the party and other influential members walked out of the convention venue and announced the formation of a faction, the G7 or new PDP. Instead of the party leadership to endeavour to address their grievances, they were threatened with suspension and even expulsion by the party. Collectively and individually, the G7 are leaders in their own right. What the party leadership did was not how to keep the president in the villa but to send him to the village.

The Court of Appeal gave a ruling that the authentic national secretary of the PDP is Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who incidentally belongs to the G7 faction of the party. The party leadership not only refused to reinstate Oyinlola to his position but even suspended him from the party. That act showed that the PDP is now above the law. It also gave the G7 higher moral ground since what they said with regard to fighting impunity is now proven beyond doubt. This is a very good way of sending Jonathan out of the villa to the village.

The G7 governors came to the Kano Governor’s Lodge in Abuja for a meeting. A police DPO led a detachment of Nigeria Police personnel to the venue of the meeting and told the governors that he was asked to come and stop their meeting! Not only governors, even ordinary citizens have the constitutional right to assemble, associate and speak. Among these governors is a retired admiral who, by age and official rank, is the father of that DPO. This embarrassing act is a sure way of making the people vote the president out of the villa to the village.

Soon after that, the minister of Abuja threatened to demolish properties owned by some members of the G7 faction. The Economic of Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) started arresting officials of some of the state governments of the G7 as well as two sons of Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa. EFCC even arrested some bankers who keep the accounts of some of these states. It is very clear that a pharaoh-nic order is being brought to Nigeria. Is this going to help the president remain in the villa or send him to the village?

The actual genesis of the PDP crisis is the act of reckless abuse of power by the national chairman, Bamanga Tukur. Nyako of Adamawa had the entire structure of the party taken away from him. Amaechi of Rivers had the PDP structure taken away from him. Then Kwankwaso of Kano had the PDP structure taken away from him. If the president is naked without the party structure, how can the governors remain quiet when their states’ party structures have been taken away from them? That is why these three governors in particular are in the forefront of moving to the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is a sure way to vote out the PDP from the villa to the village.

With an approaching election year President Jonathan does not seem to know that he needs these governors more than Bamanga Tukur. Those advising the president do not seem to take into consideration the consequences of a ruling party losing Kano, Lagos and Rivers to another party. These states, which are now APC, not only have the highest number of registered voters but are the main economic centres of the country. If this is not a game-changing event, I don’t know what else is. For the PDP, the journey has begun out of the villa to the village.

Another consequence of this political shocker is that the PDP is set to lose its majority in the National Assembly as most members of the new PDP move to the APC. This will be a very good political development as it may lead to proper checks and balances. The excesses of the executive arm will now be checked by the legislature. The unconstitutional acts will not go unpunished. The impunity and disregard for due process that characterise the era of the cult-like control of the National Assembly by the PDP will come to an end. The journey has indeed begun for the PDP to move out of the villa to the village.

President Jonathan came to power with enormous goodwill. That goodwill has been squandered. He inherited a lot of problems. None of these problems has been solved; instead, they are even getting compounded. The party leadership that saw his victory is left in the cold. The governors that nominated him and made sure he got elected are being driven out of the party, if not their offices. Except for a few self-appointed ethnic champions, there is no real national leader that is close to the president anymore. Are these not signs that he is hastening to go out of the villa to the village?

The militants can’t make him get elected. Their threats and insults on others are only making the president more unpopular. Balance of terror is only possible when terrorists are allowed to terrorize people. Instead of making reasonable people convince the electorate to continue to support the president, mad people are unleashed on the innocent public who keep shouting and threatening the whole country. And one keeps wondering: are these people interested in remaining in the villa or going back to the village?

Bamanga Tukur cannot help the president either. Since assuming office as chairman of the PDP, he has destroyed the party. There is no organisation and there is no cohesion in the party anymore. Directly and indirectly, Tukur has sent away seven governors who are either in, or heading for, the APC. Even Bola Tinubu brought six ACN governors to the party. Thus, Tukur is the greatest benefactor of the main party in Nigeria now, the APC. For good, the PDP is leaving the villa for the village.

But by far the greatest threat to President Jonathan today is corruption. The economy is collapsing due to corruption. Elections are not properly conducted due to corruption. Budgets are not implemented due to corruption. Armed robbery, kidnapping and insurgency are all attributable to corruption. There is no single institution that has not been tainted by corruption. Corruption is sending the PDP from the villa to the village.

Shehu Shagari launched the ethical revolution. Buhari launched the War Against Indiscipline. Obasanjo set up the anti-corruption agencies, ICPC and EFCC, and fought corruption vigorously. This government is not even pretending to fight the cankerworm that is destroying the country. Like an old rag, they don’t know where to start. President Jonathan came to power on a national platform. Now he is being sold as an ethnic and regional commodity. No wonder he is a failure. Corruption and sectionalism are sending them out of the villa to the village. History is on the side of the oppressed.

– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Abba Mahmood/Leadership

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