By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, let me start by sending you my warmest compliments of this special season. It has been one hell of a year for our beloved country and most of us in general. The tempo of politics has nearly reached a crescendo as we meander our way towards the year 2014. Next year promises to be an interesting one already as those masquerades seeking political offices or simply waiting to renew their tenure must unmask eventually. There would be no hiding place for the goldfish by this time next year.
I have therefore chosen to move beyond the letter writers and their satanic epistles. If they like, they can continue to strip themselves naked in the market place. The chicanery that brought them together is what will scatter them ultimately. A house built with spittle would easily collapse at the fall of the dew. Truth is, none of the letters truthfully addressed the issues of development. They were letters reeking with personal animosity and rabid vendetta. The common motive was simple and easy to decipher: who controls power and our commonwealth from 2015, after the elections? No more, no less.
Let’s therefore work out the calculations as to what to expect ahead of time as events continue to unravel. By popular demand, I wish to go ahead and give a sneak preview of the melodrama long before it premieres. The actors are not new to the play. The dramatis personae won’t be many as some of them are going to be cast in dual or multiple roles. The plot would be laden with twists and turns of intriguing dimensions. There will be use of deliberate distortions in order to camouflage the real intentions. Multifaceted actors in the troupe will appear at brief intervals and disappear in a jiffy just the way they came. This is the stuff of thrillers.
Let the play begin. The protagonist remains the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. One of his hidden names, Azikiwe, would soon be re-introduced as a stage-name. It is needed to mesmerise some emotional spectators who live majorly on raw sentiment. His arrival will be heralded by a grand ceremony to be orchestrated by a mass choir and chorus singers who have been rehearsing for years. Many reasons, real, surreal and unreal, would be adduced for the second coming of a man who has ostensibly come to save Nigeria from its enemies in their imagination. It would be said that the Messiah, yes, our Lord and Saviour, needs more time to complete his miracles. The supposed blasphemy would be concocted and regurgitated by the biggest men and women of God as we have seen before. They will call the name of God in vain and prophesies would come flying in from every direction in staccato fashion.
The lead actor would have to make a grandiloquent appearance and a flowery speech to thank his good people who are begging him to stay on in power. He would invite his fellow party men and women to join hands with him and follow him to the Jerusalem of our dream. He would have to offer an olive branch and attempt the Mandela style of reconciliation. This may include bringing on stage a new National Chairman to placate embittered party members. He may also ask his assailants to cool temper by dropping his current Vice President, a perfect gentleman, for someone from the other side. That person may turn out to be Alhaji Sule Lamido, the embattled Governor of Jigawa State. Nothing is ever too strange or stupidly bizarre in this macabre dance. The name of Brigadier-General Mohammed Buba Marwa has also been touted for his nationwide popularity and achievement as Military Governor of Lagos State.
But the lead actor may decide to shock the audience by announcing a sudden retirement from acting. This is most unlikely and may be far-fetched. But those who should know are willing to place a bet on it. If it ever happens, new actors are likely to come on stage. The business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote may be the joker in the pack. It is the ultimate ace to be unleashed against the enemy camp if it becomes obvious that the opposition is gaining the upper hand. Dangote may be paired with the Akwa Ibom Governor, Dr Godswill Akpabio, a consummate politician and close confidant of the incumbent. The dreamers of this ingenious package are hoping to neutralise the likes of Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwanso, Governor of Kano, the State with the largest population in Nigeria. Akpabio is believed to have the requisite charisma, track record of performance, coupled with humongous access to oil wealth to give Dangote a major boost.
There is a Team B hanging around. Those who play the religious card want Jonathan to support the Senate President, Senator David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark, a Catholic and retired Army General since it is certain opposition will pick a Muslim Northerner as its candidate. He has been the stabilising factor for the Jonathan administration to date with an intimidating profile and presumed acceptance within military circles. It is believed that a Mark candidacy would weaken the romance of Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar and even Olusegun Obasanjo with the opposition since they can trust him more to protect their interests. “He would be an easier man to deal with than the likes of Buhari, Tinubu, and others”, said an impeccable source. The second reason in his favour is how to neutralise the rising profile of The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who is being touted as the assumed flag-bearer of the opposition.
David Mark is believed to command nationwide respect and reportedly has unfettered access to the individual with the biggest cash-cow in Africa, Dr Michael Adenuga Jnr. Adenuga is seen as a silent power house who is capable monumental possibilities. The plotters of this strategy believe it can fly. Their calculation is predicated on picking the Vice President from the South West since it is obvious the opposition is not likely to pick theirs from there. They believe they can persuade Alhaji Tajudeen Afolabi Adeola to cross over to PDP. Fola Adeola, former Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank comes with impeccable pedigree and superlative credentials. He’s one of the most respected New Age Muslims in Nigeria. He comes from Ogun State, the traditional homestead of some of the renowned and greatest leaders and legends of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ernest Shonekan, Obafemi Awolowo, Moshood Abiola, Wole Soyinka, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Adeoye Lambo, Bola Ajibola, and others. Adeola would merely be following in their footsteps.
There is a third option. No one can totally ignore former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in political considerations. While he appears to be floating at the moment, it is believed that Abubakar has a stupendous war chess at his command. He still controls a chunky arm of the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua political structure which he can use for himself or donate to others. PDP may decide to use him as a sword of Damocles against his estranged boss, General Olusegun Obasanjo.
According to my sources, it is not in the interest of Jonathan to risk being disgraced out of power by an obvious gang-up. “If I were Jonathan, I will throw all my resources behind a good candidate in order to frustrate the opposition. By voluntarily giving up power, Jonathan would have eclipsed Obasanjo’s claim to fame. He has nothing more to prove other than to ensure a less rancorous transition”, said one of the brains behind this incredible plan.
The reason behind this entire plot is how to upstage an audacious opposition that seems poised and determined to dislodge the ruling party. On its part, the opposition is moving at frenetic pace to overwhelm the PDP. The APC is imbued with renewed confidence based on its ability to build a broad coalition of different political parties. If things go according to plans, they intend to take over the leadership of the National Assembly shortly. They appear very serious about this tall ambition now that they have virtually succeeded in controlling the lower chamber, the House of Representatives. They are plotting the final offensive at the Senate where they hope to be in the majority in the near future.
If they succeed, the position of Senate President would become tenuous and shaky. This is going to be a battle royale as those loyal to President Jonathan have promised a fight-to-finish when the time comes. They would have to fight dirty as this is going to practically halt in its tracks the ambitions of the current Senate President, David Mark. The President’s team is trying to label these wholesale defections as carpet – crossing in a bid to use a constitutional sledgehammer to stem the tide and unseat the legislators abandoning the ruling party like rats from a sinking ship.
No matter what happens, the opposition ticket is visibly dangling between Aminu Tambuwal and Rabiu Kwankwanso. The only problem they must confront is the undying ambition of General Muhammadu Buhari. Neither of the younger aspirants can go far without the endorsement of the strongman. And they know it. It is a subject APC members discuss only in hushed tones. The Buhari factor is so volatile that some members are hoping for a miracle that would make it possible for Buhari to withdraw voluntarily from the race. “I will be certain we can win the day Buhari throws his weight behind our leading candidate-in-waiting who for now is Tambuwal”, said a source in APC.
But the Buhari brouhaha is not going to go away that easily. The former Head of State and his die-hard supporters believe he is the only one who can defeat Jonathan or any other PDP candidate in 2015. “It is Buhari or no one else, otherwise let Jonathan continue”, one of his closest allies told me last week in Lagos. I was momentarily dazed by this submission from a seasoned politician from the North. But the man stuck to his guns that APC does not have any other candidate with the status of Buhari that is capable of confronting a sit-in President.
But others within APC are of the opinion that Buhari cannot force his candidacy on the party. According to this school of thought, Buhari’s candidacy is only being pushed by those who think they stand to gain a lot if he becomes President. “Buhari himself is man enough to know that it would be practically impossible to do better than he did in his previous attempts. He has demonstrated a resolve to join hands with others to dislodge PDP and this is highly commendable”, said the source.
Those angling for younger candidates believe either Tambuwal or Kwankwanso can get the job done. They think Tambuwal has the better chance because he’s been able to build bridges nationwide unlike Kwankwanso whose influence is more in the North. The dream is for all these politicians to queue behind whoever is chosen without any rancour. They have also zeroed in on two possible running mates. They are Governors Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State. Fashola is loved because of his steady achievements in Lagos. He’s a modern administrator with a powerful vision the type Nigeria needs to attain progress at this time and age.
The odds against Fashola are that he is a Muslim like Tambuwal or Kwankwanso. And religion is likely to play a major role in the 2015 presidential election. The favoured candidate for deputy, Amaechi, is from the same geo-political zone as President Jonathan. He is also a devout Catholic like David Mark. Like Fashola, he’s regarded as one of the best achievers in Nigeria today. His supporters believe he deserves the ticket because of his principled and courageous stance against Jonathan. “Without Amaechi, the opposition won’t be as formidable as it has become today. And if we want to take the number one position from the South South, it is only fair that we compensate the region with number two”, said an APC stalwart.
So far so good, both sides are busy with their secret permutations and cranking up their credentials. What is not known is if they would give peace a chance.
However, the nation is anxiously awaiting details of what the contending forces have to offer the hapless population. For the long-suffering people of Nigeria this is really the crux of the matter. The questions being asked are “Will they come out with the same worn-out platitudes, promises and jejune manifestoes that lack clear principles and ideologies or will we for once have clear-headed policies and plans?”
There are many questions begging for answers. They will determine whether our people will be apathetic or truly contribute to the election and not selection of their leaders.
It is hoped the warring groups will clearly demonstrate how they intend to save us as a nation or conversely display how they intend to tie us once again to the stakes and pull the noose.
It is a matter of time.
The Pendulum By Dele Momodu, Email: [email protected]