by Duro Onabule
President Jonathan could not be faulted either on the timing or the ex-ministers concerned. In war, you employ every weapon at your disposal. The only fallout is that the cabinet reshuffle makes the PDP crisis bloodier.
Since the outbreak of the civil war in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), there has been unease in some quarters (at times openly expressed) that unless the crisis is resolved in time, it may lead to disintegration of the Federal Republic. That is cheap blackmail unconsciously or even deliberately aimed at reducing the Nigerian Federation to mere PDP.
Nigerians must, therefore, be bold enough to resist any idea that PDP is Nigeria to the extent that anytime there is a crack, it must be patched at whatever cost. The PDP is just one of the numerous political parties in Nigeria and if the party dies, the Nigerian Federation will stay afloat.
The raging civil war in PDP is like a time bomb due, all along, to explode at one time or another. There was no way the party could have continued in its previous form indefinitely. Neither would the party return to its business as before. If ever there were some altruistic ones among them, such were overwhelmed by the others (the majority), who commandeered Nigeria and partitioned our national resources without any concern or attention for the interests of Nigerian indigenes. Recall how Western powers partitioned Africa among themselves at the Berlin Conference in 1885?
In the present PDP crisis, two issues are involved: (a) survival/freedom of Nigerians and (b) survival/interests of PDP leaders. The two are as distinct as life and death. The possible outcome? Only one of the following two: (a) A completely weakened PDP, which will be a relief for the Nigerian Federation or (b) A PDP stronger in its stranglehold over the country, leaving it to Nigerians to tolerate. In either case, the choice is ours. Why then should we equate Nigeria to PDP? We dare PDP leaders to destroy themselves and their party. Nobody will lose sleep, as there will be carnival all over Nigeria.
Meanwhile, PDP’s civil war is taking different courses, some of them illegal and unconstitutional.
The most dangerous is the spinelessness of police authorities, which caved in to be used for settling political scores. More disturbing is the speculation in the press that the same police authorities even admitted the order to discharge duties along political interest is unconstitutional. Obviously, that was unconvincing public relations aimed to portray police hierarchy’s helplessness when directed to carry out unconstitutional act.
Instead, we should, by now, in Nigeria be in a situation where police leadership, especially on self-admission or recognising the unlawful nature of a directive, is bold enough to point out to whoever gave the directive, that controversial content. Failure to point out the non-political nature of police duties under the constitution is in itself an act of disloyalty to the Nigerian authorities concerned. If on the other hand, police authorities were still directed to break the law, a reputable police boss will maintain his stand.
Of course, the police boss concerned may be sacked. So what? Were his predecessors not sacked? The matter would then become a public issue to be addressed once and for all. There is no law in Nigeria that empowers either the Inspector-General of Police or his appointor to withdraw the security detail of public figures, who are statutorily entitled to security of their lives and property.
There are implications for such abuse of office. The first implication is that governance is a personal or indeed family property to be dished out in crumbs, what, in civilised societies, are official entitlement of public figures. The second implication is that governance along security (of persons) line is some kind of largesse solely at the discretion of a Nigerian president. This is wrong. Every Nigerian citizen is entitled to personal security ensured by the state and the more politically exposed is the citizen, the more statutorily deserving is the beneficiary.
Why should a state governor’s ADC be withdrawn or even replaced without his knowledge and indeed consent? Why should a former state governor’s security detail be withdrawn, all on the grounds of political difference known to Nigerians? This misuse of power started under ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo when he withdrew the security details of the then vice-president Atiku Abubakar. Since the matter was not challenged in a court of law, the same unlawful conduct is being exercised under President Goodluck Jonathan. And nobody could tell him the position under the law? Even if he has the power (actually he does not), should such be displayed to show that “I can deal with you”?
Would an American President, an Indian or Australian Prime Minister (as heads of identical Nigerian federation) withdraw or even change security details of a state governor on account of political differences within the same party or with rival political parties?
It was similarly wrong to send armed policemen to the property of political rivals. Again, the dangerous precedent was set by Obasanjo when he sent mobile policemen, armed to the teeth, at 2 o’clock in the morning to the official residence of the then Senate president Chuba Okadigbo, purportedly in search of mace. There was no official report from the Senate president on disappearance of the mace. But for political differences, Obasanjo tried to intimidate Okadigbo.
A new sector of the civil war in the PDP was opened when President Jonathan sacked six cabinet ministers and three ministers of state. Over the past one year, there had been speculations on the exercise. In fact, Jonathan, on an occasion, publicly hinted he was to reshuffle his cabinet. And at the height of the Boko Haram crisis, the same Jonathan complained that Boko Haram had infiltrated sympathisers his cabinet.
Yet, the timing of dismissal of the ministers is instructive. Information Minister, Labaran Maku (now overseeing Defence Ministry), was understandably being official when he said exit of the ministers had nothing to do with the crisis. But even if that was not suspicious, surely the personalities affected aptly reflected the partisan divisions of the PDP’s on-going internal conflict. Despite this bitter truth, President Jonathan could not be faulted either on the timing or the ex-ministers concerned. In war, you employ every weapon at your disposal. The only fallout is that the cabinet reshuffle makes the PDP crisis bloodier.
The highlights of the exercise show that President Jonathan seemed set for total showdown with either known political enemies or ordinary suspects like ex-president Obasanjo. Earlier, the Minister of State for Youths, Inuwa Abdulkadir (from Sokoto State), had been dropped on account of being acolyte of Governor Wammako (one of the seven PDP state governors opposed to Jonathan’s second term bid) and House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, who himself is maintaining solid silence on the PDP internal crisis.
Ministers dropped or elevated owed their fate to political affiliation. It was also not clear if Boko Haram ties influenced the loss of jobs for any of the ministers. If it did, there should be no surprise. Former president Obasanjo is visible in the on-going reconciliation efforts of the PDP crisis but there is no doubt he is merely being tolerated by the Jonathan faction. In fact, stories were leaked to the press last week of Aso Rock distrust of Obasanjo’s sincerity in his seeming neutral posture.
Accordingly, Obasanjo’s very patronage, which earned Gbemiga Ashiru his stint as Minister of Foreign Affairs, also caused him the dismissal. The ex-minister occupied the slot for Ogun State.
It is not clear if Jonathan will pacify Obasanjo by allowing him to provide a replacement. But if Jonathan’s countenance is dissected, especially in the current PDP crisis, he may most likely seize the replacement of Ogun ministerial slot as an opportunity to further undermine Obasanjo’s political influence in Ogun State by requesting the Kashamu faction of PDP in Ogun State (Obasanjo’s political antagonists) to nominate a replacement for the minister.
It is also a different matter if, either way, that will necessarily translate into votes for Jonathan in Ogun State.
For the dismissed minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, it was something like triple jeopardy. First, she was the nominee of former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and, therefore, of South-West under ex-President Obasanjo. Erelu Obada was, therefore, a ministerial victim of Jonathan’s determination to diminish Obasanjo’s political influence in South-West. Second, Erelu Obada was also a victim of the on-going PDP war in which Oyinlola is on the other side against Jonathan’s 2015 ambition.
Furthermore, the ex-minister of State for Defence was for seven years, the deputy to ex-governor Oyinlola in Osun State. When, therefore, the civil war broke in PDP, it was a case of head or tail, she lost. In a tense situation of stand up to be counted, Erelu Obada marshaled the remnant old PDP in Osun State to distance themselves from former governor Oyinlola’s challenge to Jonathan’s political muscle on the national branch of the old PDP. But like a gallant soldier, she did not survive the cabinet re-shuffle.
Similarly, there was no surprise in the dismissal of National Planning minister Shamsudeen Usman, on the slot of Kano State where Governor Kwakwanso rules the waves against Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 race plans and in the current PDP war.
In fact, any minister from the North; especially North-west zone, can only enjoy Jonathan’s trust through sheer luck. Little wonder, therefore, that education minister, Rukuayat Rufai, had to go. In any case, Jonathan had to compensate his loyalist from Rivers State, Minister of State, Nyesom Nwike, by elevating him to substantive Minister of Education.
Who but Nwike had been doing the dog bite in Rivers State against Governor Rotimi Amaechi on behalf of Goodluck Jonathan for the 2015 showdown?
With the dismissal of his nominees from South-west as ministers, unless, of course, he is privileged to name substitutes, it is doubtful if Obasanjo can exercise any influence in resolving the PDP crisis. On his part, it is also doubtful if President Jonathan can hope for any settlement of the PDP crisis on his terms. He does not seem to be in such mood.
And so, the PDP civil war spreads.
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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.