With the breakup into two of the Nigerian Governors Forum as a consequence of the failure of President Goodluck Jonathan’s men to have their way, Nigerians, indeed the world, have reason to fear for the future of the country’s ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, and most importantly what the President will do to the corporate existence of the country if he fails to clinch the office in 2015. But this too goes for the opposition politicians, who have not equally shown the preparedness to accept defeat as they accept victory.
The breakup of the NGF, with the winner of the election, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, holding the cow, and the government appointee, Governor Jonah Jang, holding the tail, is a clear pointer to the fact that the crisis of succession in 2015 has reached a pivotal stage.
By permitting the destruction of an important institution as the NGF, on which back he rode to power in both 2009 and 2011, the President has also given a clear signal about how far he can go.
The alarming thing about what is going on is that despite his candidate having lost in open and transparent poll, in which Amaechi got 19 votes and Jang 16 votes, the President has chosen to brazen it out instead of accepting defeat and taking remedial measures to mend all cracks he created in the NGF.
Notwithstanding the belated denials of my friend, Reuben Abati, issued on behalf of his boss, the facts on the ground bespeaks an enormous amount of interest in the NGF by the President, who conveniently continues to leverage all the powers of his office – the courts, the police, the Aviation Ministry, the ruling party, the PDP against Governor Amaechi. His fingerprints of illegal actions are in all of these steps he has taken, the latest being the governor’s suspension of his party membership because he ran in an election and won! So, claims that the President is not involved in this divisive conflict are just empty.
How can he claim ignorance when the governors closest to him and his foot soldiers have been going up and down the country working to destroy this important democratic institution? No, the President cannot duck the blame for the emergence of a splinter NGF led by a man of checkered, if not suspect, democratic credentials, Jonah Jang.
Let’s face facts. If the NGF, and more importantly this democracy, are to be rescued, the President must learn the act of playing the game in accordance with the rules of electoral contests. If 2011 represents an important advance in our electoral system, as he himself has been claiming at home and abroad, 2015 must seek to be a milestone and a turning point. He and the PDP must adopt the best practices from the advanced democracies of the world where all votes are counted and all the votes count.
For the sake of transparency, it is imperative that the President be not a law unto himself. To ensure this is not the case, the on-going constitution amendment should factor the need to bring all elected officials under the control of the parliament, the courts and the voter. They should be made to adhere to the code of conduct prescribed by the constitution. Our democracy cannot function successfully without proper oversight and checks, including an end to this type of fatal impunity which threatens to destroy the integrity of the process of choosing leaders in the country.
If a leader refuses to face the inevitable outcome of an election involving less than 40 persons, how would he conduct himself when he/she is thrown out of office in a general election? This whole thing smacks of corruption, greed and incompetence. It is Machiavellian.
People have said it elsewhere that the President’s problem is that he is surrounded by people who invariably have no dint of democratic convictions. These are men and women who believe in adoption and consensus not elections. But it does not make sense for an election to hold when the outcome is decided before the election is held.
This is the lesson to take away from the forced signatures used to endorse Jang and the consequent decision of the few unnamed governors to revolt. Governors cannot be treated as slaves. It was a serious breach of the norms of constitutional democracy.
Lastly and mostly damningly from all of these things that are going on, Nigerian democracy has been brought into utter disrepute and faces, as a consequence, its darkest hour. No one needs to be a seer to sense that this is 2015 foretold.