There are strong indications that the Presidency is not taking the idea of major opposition parties merging under the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) banner lightly, as a leaked memo shows a presidential directive instructing that “everything must be done to frustrate the merged opposition parties.”
The seven-point memo, numbered PD95 and dated March 26, 2013 also mentioned the business interests of former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as targets, adding that it might also be necessary to plant ‘moles’ among the opposition.
Interestingly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was also on the list, but there were no details about how the Presidency planned to carry out the attacks.
A presidential directive carries the same weight as an executive order, as it is instigated, prepared and executed with the full knowledge of the President.
“I can tell you that this order bears the full imprint of President Goodluck Jonathan. It’s now gloves off in the battle for 2015,” said a source in the Presidency.
The APC had recently accused the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) government of frustrating their attempts at registration by using at least two other phony groups seeking registration as political parties to use the acronym chosen by the opposition.
Sources said last night that, for the first time, President Jonathan and his handlers were nervous that the seeming futile reconciliation efforts in the PDP could lead to the unraveling of the ruling party, which could affect the president’s re-election bid.
Also, part of the presidential directive was plans by the Jonathan administration to increase fuel price from N97/litre to between N130 and N140/litre, although the date this price increase would take effect was not stated.
“Petrol prices to be up (sic) to N130 or N140 per litre; public opinion must be tested first,” the directive stated.
This comes despite repeated denials from top government officials that there will be no fuel price increase ever since it started being speculated after President Jonathan mentioned at an economic conference last week in Lagos that his government intended to fully deregulate the downstream petroleum industry.
Labour unions have already vowed to resist any increase, arguing that the main problems were official corruption and the president’s inability, or unwillingness, to tackle highly placed persons indicted for stealing trillions of naira in subsidy scams.
The presidential directive also confirmed earlier media reports that the Presidency had placed some ‘disagreeable’ or ‘ambitious’ governors under surveillance. The five governors: Sule Lamido, Jigawa; Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers; Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta; Rabiu Kwankwaso, Kano, and Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, Niger, are all members of the ruling party.
The directive ordered a “24-hour surveillance on governors of Jigawa, Rivers, Delta, Kano and Niger,” adding that there was the need to “concentrate particularly on Niger, Rivers and Jigawa.”
The directive also said that “if the current efforts by the BoT chairman (Tony Anenih) failed to convince them (the governors) to soft-pedal, everything must be done to embarrass them.”
On the security front, it appears the president will retain the defence portfolio until July or August, 2013. The directive also said there would be no changes in the military high command until 2014 when the current leadership will retire.
The directive also indicated that the president may have finally succumbed to the wishes of the National Assembly and could drop embattled director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Arunma Oteh.
The face-off between the executive and legislative arms of government over Oteh is the main reason behind lawmakers had refused to approve a budget for the securities commission and had, last week, warned against extra-budgetary funding for the commission.