Charles Ofoji: Jonathan Versus Amaechi

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Last week, the Nigerian media was awash with the news and analysis of Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s pyrrhic victory over President Goodluck Jonathan’s nominee, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau for the chairmanship of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF). Jonathan has been humiliated, some commentators opined. They also saw it as what awaits the president in 2015. To them, Amaechi has won the personality clash against the president.
What was worrisome in the whole brouhaha was that no commentator was reflective enough to question the relevance of the so-called Governor’s Forum and the much ado about its election. Taxpayer’s money is wasted each time State Chief Executives hop into the plane with their army of Aides to Abuja for a meeting of NGF, which was neither provided for nor envisaged by the Constitution. Instead of focusing on the enormous problems of their respective states, they are driven almost insane by an inordinate desire for power and influence – so much that they have lost touch with reality. The Forum has unwisely being allowed to become too powerful that it has become a blackmail organisation, whose bidding the president can only ignore at his peril.

Before Amaechi humbled Jonathan by defeating his anointed candidate, it was no longer an open secret that the love (if there was ever one, never mind the hobnob of convenience during the 2011 elections campaign) between Amaechi and Jonathan has been lost. The bone of contention, it seems, is the political ambition of the former. This was audaciously confirmed by Amaechi himself during a visit to Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso in Kano. He categorically told pressmen that he is ready to be a running mate to either Kwankwaso or Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa should any of them decide to run for president.

After that Kano declaration, the president intensified his onslaught against the Rivers Governor, notwithstanding that presidential spokesmen tried, in vain, to tell the people that the relationship between the two was still intact. An unofficial witch-hunt started. Amaechi must be politically dismantled by all means possible.

After he shocked those mandated to systematically crush him, by winning the NGF re-election against odds, they pulled the next ace against him. PDP Chairman, Bamangar Tukur, obviously following a presidential script, hurriedly summoned PDP’s National Working Committee for an emergency meeting. The agenda was to suspend Amaechi. Within minutes of deliberation, Amaechi, without being heard as required by the rule of Audi alteram partem, was suspended from the party for “anti-party activities”. It climaxed the crisis rocking the Rivers State chapter of the party. As 2015 lurks, there is a dirty fight between the governor’s loyalists and another faction led by the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike for the soul of Rivers’ PDP. Since Amaechi will not support Jonathan in 2015, his wings must be clipped.

I have watched those who are making trouble by saying that Jonathan can never do another term. I don’t know where they got the precedent from. In my lifetime, I can hardly recall any where in the world, where an incumbent president (except Nelson Mandela, who personally decided otherwise) did not seek re-election. Those who think they can intimidate a commander-in-chief to swallow his ambition are those who don’t love this country. The citizens will decide if they will give Jonathan a second term should he decide to exercise that option.

Of course, no one needs to tell Amaechi that a party member needs to be loyal to his party. That loyalty includes waiting to know if a sitting president, as leader of the party, wants to do a second term. If he would, it behoves the members of the ruling party to support him. How many democrats challenged Obama’s second term bid? None. Why must ours be different simply because Nigeria is peopled by a greedy elite who needs power by all means?

I still fail to understand why the North think they can not wait for another four years, at least in the interest of the country. The Igbos have done that since the civil war. Is it arrogance or what? Or is it because Jonathan is from a minority group? I simply don’t get it.

In any case, I find it very crude for this president to abuse his powers and undemocratically misuse his influence simply because a member of his party indicated his interest not to support him in 2015. You can not pretend to be a democrat and have the stomach of a ruthless despot. The ostensible witch-hunt against Amaechi ridicules our democracy. It is unworthy of a president. No one can take away from Amaechi his constitutionally embedded rights to aspire for any political office in the land, even when that infringes on intra-party norms.

The Jonathan versus Amaechi rumble is like a fight of the birds. We, the people, can only watch helplessly. According to an Igbo saying: “Ogu umu nnunu wu anya na elu” – all you could do when two birds are fighting is to look up. Humans can not separate them because they can not fly to where the birds are. The same goes for the Jonathan versus Amaechi tango. Both can only destroy themselves.

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