by Akin Osuntokun
At a slightly refined level, the one and only Allison-Maduekwe, who bestrode the petroleum resources like a colossus (to borrow the Nigerian parlance) conclusively proved herself a most devastating liability to Jonathan very much in the manner that the biblical femme fatale Delilah pulled down the mighty Samson.
Perhaps nothing symbolises the dramatic downturn of the political fortunes of President Goodluck Jonathan than the terminal cancer that terminated the life of the appropriately designated Special Adviser to the President on Strategy and Communications Oronto Douglas. If providence and circumstance had permitted him the chance to fully apply himself in the appointed role, the outcome of the last presidential election might have been different. He stood out as a priceless asset amidst the forest of liabilities that pervaded the Presidency of his boss.
His reputation as a public policy activist preceded him and he exuded nobility and charisma of character that destined him for leadership role in the Niger Delta region and the world beyond. Given his central role in such landmark testaments as the Kiama declaration, he stood a good chance of becoming heir apparent to the legacy of the late Niger Delta icon Ken Saro Wiwa. He carried himself with enormous civility, sobriety and sense of responsibility that is rare in high official of the rank of the kitchen cabinet of a president. Within the constraint of the time and space available to him, he bends over backwards to give audience to all who seek his attention.
Above all, he was a man of peace, reason, dignity and cosmopolitan comportment. In the instant post mortem of the failure of the re-election bid of Jonathan, there has been a preponderant submission to the effect that the balance of terror fulminations of Asari Dokubo and other warlords of the creeks was a major turnoff of the Jonathan presidency. In a manner of speaking, I was a close political associate of OD-as we called him, and never once did I hear or sense him implying any endorsement of the political exuberance of the warlords including those occasions where there might have been reciprocal justification of such posturing.
It is no longer news that President Jonathan dealt a pre-emptive strike at any such balance of terror engagement with Nigeria’s power politics by his globally acclaimed initiative of gracefully accepting defeat at the presidential elections. And it is not difficult to extrapolate this implicit commitment to peace and political stability of Nigeria from the ideological standpoint and disposition of OD.
But in fulfilment of the dialectical progression of human conduct and the Jonathan presidency (every idea poses an alternative, to every thesis there is antithesis and to every Jesus, there is a Judas) there was bound to be the antihero to OD’s heroism. Over a year, I wrote a column on those I identified as the frenemies of Jonathan. They were the purported friends and associates of the president whose conduct and actions, wittingly or inadvertently, attract enmity or hostility to the former.
Amongst a few others, I identified the former Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Maduekwe, and Mr. Buruji Kashamu as enjoying the dubious distinction of belonging in this category. Of the lot and from the perspective of a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the South-west, I rate Kashamu as the most notorious.
I wrote of him in the column under question as follows ‘In view of the earth shaking revelation made in Baba’s (Obasanjo) letter, I don’t know whether the security services had invited Mr Buruji Kashamu (what a name!) for a chat. Even before that revelation many party members in the South-west have wondered whether this is the kind of company we should keep. He has been throwing his weight (money) around and kept on insinuating that he is the president’s fixer and man Friday. Jonathan and the PDP can do well without his company’.
I had another occasion to make him the sole subject of my column-which had to be stepped down on account of circumstances beyond my control. And he had since remained in the news, mostly for the wrong reasons including especially his relentless and rude altercation with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I hereunder reproduced an abbreviated version of the suspended write up.
‘I feel vicariously insulted that a Buruji Kashamu should have the audacity to esteem himself to the point of routinely issuing unrestrained and mudslinging rejoinders to Obasanjo. This tango is not analogous (and therefore not extenuated) to the classical Biblical moral of Goliath versus David neither is it an instance of righteous defiance of the philosophy of might is right.
‘Kashamu is no David or Edward Snowden and without prejudice to the legal technicalities of his freedom, the fact is that his attention and presence is required in America on drug peddling-related charges. And by his own testimony he has a history-spanning the better part of his adult life, of living in the shadows of near convictions; implicating or helping to secure the conviction of his sibling; being kept in prison custodies for years on end….ad nauseum.
‘If this kind of person is not satisfied with the life of keeping well away from the glare of public scrutiny then he should take his wilfulness to the logical conclusion of convincing the whole world that he has nothing to hide by making himself available for judicial inquiry in America. After all, President Uhuru Kenyatta has just gone to the international court at Hague to do exactly that-concerning the allegations of genocide levelled against him.
‘Kashamu is punching well above his weight and his perverted sense of hubris will not do the president and the PDP any good. I cannot see anything Obasanjo has said that will not be justified by America’s vested interest in Buruji and his own mini autobiography. Neither can I discern-even within the context of the amorality of realpolitik, what makes him a compelling asset to PDP in the South-west.
‘I am unable to directly or indirectly trace the PDP recovery strides in the zone to his efforts. What we know of him is the tendency to be rude, confrontational, divisive and prone to delusions of grandeur. With or without Obasanjo’s reservations, this man cannot and should not be deemed a publicly acceptable face of a party in dire need of image rehabilitation-and President Jonathan and the party leadership have their task cut out for them.
‘If any group of party leaders feel indebted to him for whatever services he might have rendered, they would be well advised to prevail on him to get sober and stop pushing himself in people’s faces all over the place. The contrived designation of chairman of contact and mobilisation committee of PDP in the South-west should be withdrawn forthwith. Who are the contact and mobilisation committee chairmen in the other five zones?
‘Sensitivity to bilateral relations between Nigeria and America is sufficient ground to see merit in cutting him to size. The tragedy in all this is that contrary to the dummy being sold to the public, Kashamu might not have had a single one on one audience with the president but it is typical Jonathan to remain passive and soak in all dirt thrown at him-founded and unfounded.
‘With the coming on board of the iconic figures of the esteemed Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, and the internationally acclaimed anti-corruption tsar, Nuhu Ribadu, the PDP has been presently furnished with the antithesis of Kashamu. And the foot pedal should be pressed further in this direction’.
I was personally mystified at the reluctance and inability of Jonathan to call this guy to order- given, especially his penchant of trading insults with Obasanjo in the very public domain of the pages of national newspapers. By the error of omission, the incumbent president bears responsibility for the extremely damaging misdemeanour of the Kashamu man.
With the recent political reconfiguration of power politics in Nigeria, the proverbial day of reckoning seems to have arrived for the enfant terrible of South-west politics. Prodded by the understanding and acknowledgement of his new found vulnerability, he wasted little time to swallow his vomit when a few days ago, he wrote of Obasanjo in this ridiculous fawning ingratiation ‘As for me and Baba Obasanjo, he remains my father and leader, just as I am his son and follower’. Really?
At a slightly refined level, the one and only Alison-Maduekwe, who bestrode the petroleum resources like a colossus (to borrow the Nigerian parlance) conclusively proved herself a most devastating liability to Jonathan very much in the manner that the biblical femme fatale Delilah pulled down the mighty Samson. She symbolised the widespread perception of President Jonathan as a weak leader overawed by a retinue of defiant and pompous subordinates. Across a broad spectrum of Nigerian opinion leaders, she made enemies for his principal as if it was a secondary job prescription.
In the run-up to the presidential election, the characterisation (I offered) of her erstwhile counterpart at the Aviation may, with undiluted appropriateness, be said of her ‘I’m convinced beyond any reasonable and unreasonable doubt, that the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, is a closet enemy of the president. If she has any iota of feeling for her boss she should have resigned long before now.
That she still answers to honorable minister is at the cost of considerable goodwill to Jonathan and has earned this nation a plummeting probity rating. It is hard for me to accept that she is completely unaware of the severity of the internal haemorrhage she has inflicted on the image of the president. The only logic to her retention, thus far, is that her determination to pull her boss down is complemented by the incipient death wish of Jonathan himself’.
The unique attribute of Alison-Maduekwe is the near universal consensus of negative opinion of her including the residual inner caucus of the president who contrived and manoeuvred for her the Presidency of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as a means of easing her out over a year ago. But she refused to swallow the bait and managed to pressure her mentors to get the oil cartel to warehouse and defer its topmost position until she is literarily finished with the Jonathan presidency. Her present predicament was not only predictable, it is equally liable to the analogy of sleepwalking into post Jonathan blues.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija