Politics has its ebbs and flows;
a man down today could be up tomorrow. Such is the thrill of a political
journey that one remembers with either trepidation or nostalgia the days when
President Obasanjo’s word was law.
Indeed, those were the days
governors lost their office when minority (often a third of their legislature)
seat in the middle of the night and arrange impeachments. It happened in Ekiti,
Bayelsa and Plateau states; among a few examples. In those days, crossing and
pissing off the Lord of Otta was synonymous to be thrown overboard. Most of
these governors were from the ruling party- the President’s own fiefdom, the
People Democratic Party (PDP) as it is called.
Well today, the shoe is biting
hard on the other leg. Our once supreme leader now writes open letters and
beckons to press men for attention, insisting he somehow still possess magical
powers to summon or arrest the demons of Boko Haram. What a laughable turn of
events! Even his own PDP now refers questions about their former Lord to Otta,
and rumbustiously mock the old man of Ogun.
I had written in the past about
how “Tinubu is winning” the political battles against Goodluck Jonathan. Senator Ahmed Tinubu erstwhile Governor of
Nigeria’s largest state and perennial nemesis of the ruling party and its
former colossus, the same President Obasanjo, being an approximation for the
coalesced opposition movement now in Action Progressive Congress (APC). Well,
while Tinubu was winning in the second half of this drama to call a draw –
especially when he stole those governors, the ever political Goodluck Ebele
Jonathan has been fighting back and winning excellently in extra time.
Politically, this President has
been adroit regardless of his misgovernance; fighting back while keeping to
time-worn political battle principles that will make Sun Tzu and Machiavelli
very proud. Not a mean feat for a man who is not just grossly incompetent, but
lacks any moral conviction when it comes to associating with convicted
criminals (Former Military Governor Bode George, Ex-Governor Alamieyeseigha) ,
impeached and EFCC investigated operatives (Ex-Governor now Governor-Elect
Fayose), suspected murderers (former Senator Omisore) and fugitive
drug king-pins (Chief Buruji Kashamu).
GEJ has shown he is a very bad
enemy to have. Ask former Governor Sylvia in Bayelsa state and Amaechi of
Rivers. It is only perhaps Governor Amaechi that has proven the most resilient
of his open opponents. As Tinubu was to Obasanjo, so is Amaechi to Jonathan. Aside
from Amaechi though, the grave of GEJ dissenters has been filled with many dry
bones, with the most recent victim being my Governor and Akowe Fayemi. Thinking
his supposed camaraderie with the President will save him, he refused to learn
the lessons of the first Alliance for Democracy governors who failed to master
the first rule of politics: it is a team sport! GEJ is no friend to any
opposition politician, there is no middle ground. Be prepared to obliterate
him, or be destroyed. Ask Tinubu and Amaechi, in that order.
With the benefit of hindsight,
the President started fighting back the very day he experienced his heaviest
defeat. Like a good wrestler, he took advantage of his opponent’s momentary
euphoria after a resounding triumph to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Sans November 27, 2013 when seven (later five) PDP governors switched sides
unexpectedly in the musical chairs that has become our political reality. On
that day, the President managed to keep two governors in his camp after they
implicitly agreed to move, delivering the first embarrassment albeit minor to a
reinvigorated opposition. Record, first law of political battles: Strike when you’re down.
The real battle lines were then
drawn; and a series of brick bats have since been flying. First the President’s
men ensured APC could not pull off a legislative version of their coup;
effectively turning a would-be revolution into a protest. Even APC’s majority
in the House of Rep was short-lived, as the PDP ensured to induce the perennial
hungry legislators to switch and “unswitch”
sides, and the potbellied Senators that saw a future in the ruling party
without their renegade governors refuse to switch sides. All said and done,
there were no legislative leadership changes and the status quo was maintained.
Record, second law of political battles: Limit
The next iteration of this
battle, quickly turned into the electoral field as the President more or less
adopted Anambra State sitting party, APGA (even though not his own), as the
official bearer of his legacy in the East where he is wildly popular. In a
somewhat comedic turn of event, the President effectively endorsed APGA in an
election which APC had wrongly staked its rising popularity. This was a huge
strategic mistake for APC; as there is simply no where (even in his own native
Bayelsa state) that the President is more popular than the South East of
Nigeria. The chastened ex-Biafrans see in Jonathan the very first leader that
is delivering the much promised goodies to their region. Of course, APGA and
implicitly GEJ won, and APC had a terrible blow delivered to its “winning
halo”. Record, third law of political battles: Draw the enemy to a fight in the region where you’re strongest.
Even as APC sustained this loss,
it continued to score cheap publicity as its henchman previously ingrained in
the government machinery were mobilized to embarrass the President. For a
moment, it worked. But as quickly as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi mentioned $20 billion
dollars, he was quickly lobbed off decisively by a President not known for
decisive decision making. The decision was illegal, it was wrong- it reminded
Nigerians of ex-strongman Olusegun Obasanjo, and for that reason it was
politically necessary. That single decision, singlehandedly saved Jonathan’s
presidency by sending clear message to the political apparatchik that he could
be clueless, but he was not stupid. Record, fourth law of political battles: Send a strong message to your friends and
Since SLS was sent to early
retirement on a chartered plane that eventually got diverted into the Emir’s
palace by fate, ensuring he will quietly retire without the pleasure of a
lawsuit or a presidential run, the President have pursued his perceived enemies
and potential 2015 opponents with deft mastery and ensure APC perpetually have
its back against the wall.
First, it was the decisive
victory by Fayose in Ekiti, and more recently the Governor of Adamawa and Edo
states have to check the political make-up of their legislatures. It well
appears that the Comrade will survive in Edo state, amounting to no more than a
scare. But the bearded one of Adamawa is well on his way out of office,
courtesy of legislative mutiny that will see him and his deputy effectively
impeached in about a month to rue the day he led the mutinous ex-PDP governors
against the President. This is even as PDP have now secured juju-judicial
pronouncements to certify an unlikely judgment that defecting governors should
have their seats declared open. He is also poaching the opposition from
Edo to Sokoto to Adamawa, he even got an
old enemy to become a Minister in Shekarau: an old nemesis and founding APC
member. Which brings us to the fifth and final law of political battles: Take the battle to the enemy.
Question on inquiring minds is if
the ever strategic Bola Tinubu will just fold and not have an effective
response to this across board victory by Goodluck Jonathan since November,
2013. Tinubu being a veteran of the Nigerian political chess game knows that if
he does not respond he will be vanquished. I was told his wife is well on her
way to be sacrificed in the Senate, or maybe that is Tinubu implementing the
President’s own version of striking when he is down.
Politics, I love this game.