Opinion: Dikko, Dickson and the ‘judases’ in the PDP

by Uche Igwe


As an aside, who are those supporting President Jonathan with political permutations and strategies? Do they really love him and  have interest in his political progress?  Must they continue to crown him King of ethnic politics in a country as ethnically diverse as Nigeria? 

“They should allow him (President Goodluck Jonathan) to devote his time to work for the country to achieve results. Even if he wants to contest, I think it should be based on performance. Let your credentials be established. Let people see what you have done and that will qualify you to re-contest.”

Alhaji Umaru Dikko


In the past one week, the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has made two very interesting appointments. The first was to assemble a reconciliation committee under the leadership of Mr. Henry Seriake Dickson, the Governor of Bayelsa State. The second is the Disciplinary Committee chaired by Second Republic politician, and former Minister of Transport under the Shehu Shagari administration, Dr. Umaru Dikko.  Curiously, the vice-chairman of the Dikko committee is someone many of you may know, but if you do not, then let me tell you. He is no less a person than King A.J. Turner, Obigbo Mimimiki 1, Obanema of Opume in Ogbia Kingdom of Bayelsa State and a prominent member of President Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet. For many observers of Nigerian politics and the crisis in the PDP, these appointments clearly indicate the level of tactlessness, political arrogance and mediocrity that have engulfed the ruling party. I will come back to this later.

I have nothing personal against any member of any of these committees. I am not even a member of their party and so who cares?  However, many pundits are trying to come to terms with the signals that the composition of these committees might have sent to the Nigerian public. Granted, the choice of the Bayelsa State Governor may be to inject a young blood into the committee. That is very commendable. However, many people consider him too inexperienced for the task ahead of him. Related to this is the fact that Dickson is seen as very close to the President. Such a level of closeness, many opine, may turn out to becloud his sense of judgment in such a sensitive assignment. Furthermore, most of the disagreements within the PDP have been associated with internal democracy and the high-handedness of the leaders of the party especially but not exclusively linked to President Jonathan. How then could someone who wants to reconcile those who have disagreed choose Dickson, a known presidential appendage, to lead such reconciliation? Can someone be a reliable judge in his own case? It is either someone somewhere is up for something or does not want true reconciliation. In a matter as complicated as an intra-party crisis, a mediator must be someone who is not only experienced and courageous but also transparently impartial, to be able to make a headway. Even in the Niger Delta, one will expect that there are other governors who are also loyal to the President but who are more experienced, politically, who could lead a reconciliation process of such a magnitude in the PDP at the national level. Such a person should be someone that is respected (at least potentially) by all parties in the conflict and who will say the truth regardless of who will be hurt. Such a move will be the foundations for the healing that will lead to genuine resolution of the pending issues. Regardless of his youthfulness, which is a strategic asset to the committee, Dickson is clearly a party in the conflict and so cannot be seen to make any headway in terms of true and sustainable reconciliation. During the Nigeria Governors’ Forum chairmanship election for instance, Dickson openly supported the faction led by Mr. Jonah Jang and allegedly provided accommodation for the factional secretariat. With all this hanging on his neck, can he muster the requisite neutrality to elicit the confidence of the members of the PDP in any reconciliation process?  By reportedly referring to some members of the party as centrifugal forces, Dickson has already taken off on a wrong footing and might have unwittingly confirmed speculation that  he is  someone in pursuit of a predetermined agenda.

Again with an average age of 70 years, what are Nigerians expecting from those in the so-called Disciplinary Committee. Someone like Umaru Dikko, who chairs the committee, is already 77 years old. Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu is 71 years old and Senator Azu Agboti may be within the same age bracket. We know that age sometimes comes with wisdom and experience but why have we developed this penchant to persistently thrusting people who are ageing and should be enjoying their retirement happily with national onerous assignments?  Are these men’s best not behind them given their age? Is this a democracy of gerontocracy? For those who do not know, Dikko is the former Minister of Transport during the Shagari regime (1979-1983) who allegedly escaped to London through Lagos-Seme border when Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari toppled the government of President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983. The former Transport Minister teamed up with other politicians such as Chief Adisa Akinloye, then Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria; and Chief Richard Akinjide, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federation in the United Kingdom.  But on July 5, 1984, fate had a different chapter for Dikko. Agents of the Buhari led military government allegedly working with the Israeli intelligence agency attempted unsuccessfully to forcefully bring Dikko back in a crate to Nigeria to face justice. He was handcuffed and anaesthetised into unconsciousness and was on his way to London Stansted Airport sandwiched in between crates in a diplomatic baggage before the operation failed. The rest, they say, is now history.

Now, apart from serving as the campaign manager for President Shagari and later as a Minister for Transport and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Rice Importation, almost 34 years ago, one wonders the sort of value someone like Dikko will bring to the table. The former Minister has consistently denied such wrongdoings though that perception still looms around him like a concentric circle. However, many observe that Dikko is very critical of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Could this be the credential that qualified him for his new appointment? Is he in the PDP to instill discipline or pursue a vendetta?  Is Dikko an asset or liability to the party and the nation as a whole in this time of our national political development?  Except the meaning of the word, discipline, will be redefined, no one will expect  political elements like Dikko and Iwuanyanwu to be harbingers of discipline in the PDP of today.

As an aside, who are those supporting President Jonathan with political permutations and strategies? Do they really love him and  have interest in his political progress?  Must they continue to crown him King of ethnic politics in a country as ethnically diverse as Nigeria? Why are they bent on making him an Ijaw (or “provincial”, to use Dickson’s word) President? Who are these Judases who are hell-bent on misleading a man who trusts them? Are there no other proxies  who can be assigned the task of getting every arm of the party to do the President’s bidding?  That is if doing his bidding uncompromisingly is the fastest route to guarantee his political progress. The President may be getting unpopular by the day, but his strategists are trying to sell him below the cost price and, in so doing, they are eroding his political capital daily! This is unacceptable for a President that is still in power.  My candid suggestion to all his handlers is to urgently recalibrate. There is an immediate need to reflect the diversity and complexity of the country in the President’s style of politics. Their current tactics will surely yield surprising and unexpected results.  Supporting the President to perform will yield him far more political mileage than all these parochial and infantile political manoeuvres and sadly, many Nigerians can see through them.  For, just like justice, sustainable peace must not only be achieved but must be transparently seen to have been achieved.



Read this article in the Sun Newspapers


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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