This is a product of my friendly Facebook spat with my oga. Recently, somebody posted on facebook that our president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had stormed out of a meeting with his political papa, Otunba OBJ. The former had alleged that his political papa was responsible for setting up the implosion currently taking place in the PDP. For one of the facebookers, my good friend Dayo Ogun, this was the way for the big PDP cookie to crumble. But I didn’t think this was the way the PDP cookie (whatever that is – I used to think that those people were there to share a big fat cake instead of an ordinary cookie) was going to crumble. For me, OBJ had in the past been as untrustworthy as he looks, and I said so in my post. But my oga was to take me up on that. This brief facebook conversation took place:
My Oga: But who put GEJ there?
Bob: OBJ of course but I’m really not interested in that sir. Isn’t all of the APC or ‘new’ PDP fracas all an attempt for the North to take over the presidency? Nobody is talking about governorship, councillor positions – nobody is talking about power supply, housing problems and etc. It’s all about being president, isn’t it?
My Oga: But you should know that you I and must avoid these stereotyping and hope that this implosion in the PDP must take place for MERIT to be entrenched in the way we do things here.
Bob: I share in your idealism sir. I really do. But I really think that the implosion everyone’s wishing will engender or entrench change in Nigeria will not come about until we stop discussing personalities and focus on the issues. Any time that I hear my brothers and colleagues from the North discuss Nigeria, I get goose pimples – they make it look as if this is a North versus South thing sir. You see sir, the minute we begin to look at the issues and remove the geographies of the personalities, in no time, the walls of geography will collapse and Egypt will happen here…
But this post was not sent. That was when I checked my internet connectivity and found out that I’d already exhausted my monthly browsing quota. Drat…but I thought to myself: why not expand your thoughts on the matter? As Africans, we don’t argue unnecessarily with our elders and betters so here I am talking with you and trying to sell my point. In fact, I wasn’t sure that I could’ve written all of this on Facebook or told the good oga all of this on Facebook.
I will start from where I had said that the formation of APC and the ‘new’ PDP will not necessarily engender any kind of change in Nigeria. The people involved seem to be all Northerners, fuelling the speculation that since they have not succeeded with the Boko Haram plan to remove the incumbent and make Nigeria ungovernable by slaughtering Christians, now they must vent their frustration and inability to continue to rule forever by breaking away from the behemoth. I also get my inkling from the fact these people as well, are politicians. But can you ever trust one? Are we truly saying that if the PDP implodes and another party comes in, then all our problems as Nigeria would be solved? Are we saying that if the APC or ‘new’ PDP come in that we will continue to have constant power supply, and that these seedy politicians will no longer travel abroad for treatment, or that our universities will run concurrently? I doubt that and I want you to exercise that kind of doubt as well before gloating over the fracas taking place in the PDP and with the emergence of a frustrated faction of the party. What I see is inordinate ambition by certain people to return the shugaba, the PRESIDENCY to the North…and by whatever method is necessary. I am sure of this especially now that Otunba Muhammadu Buhari will not step down and allow a Yoruba man even from his religious divide be a presidential candidate for the APC. I am sure that this is what necessitated the formation of the ‘new’ PDP – to capture the presidency and ‘return’ it to the North.
But we cannot be talking of capturing power and returning it to the North if we do not know how the power left in the first place. I think that for us to answer to this question, we must first look for answers to how political godfatherism began, and inquire why an OBJ will be ‘putting’ a certain GEJ there. The problem of ‘putting’ people somewhere, even when they are not qualified or deserve to be there started with the evil genius himself, IBB. How? After IBB annulled the June 12 elections, considered the freest and fairest in the annals of Nigeria’s political history, certain centrifugal and centripetal forces took over. The world held IBB culpable and responsible for pushing Nigeria to the brink the way that that imbroglio of that election did. So after the Americans resolved the MKO and Abacha conundrum with engineering the deaths of the duo, IBB did everything he could to get an OBJ from prison and ‘put’ him in Aso Rock. There were speculations that IBB expended as much as N300million in 2009 to ‘put’ OBJ there. And so, when OBJ was leaving he was shopping for a replacement, after the fiasco of his 3rd term bid that would suit the sectional interests that ‘put’ him there. There were fitter, healthier and very articulate candidates like Donald Duke who could easily have become a better political model instead of the ‘arrangee’ that was the duo we were thrust with. That arrangee, aka ‘gentleman’s agreement’ was what has been in place in the PDP and in the pre and post military of IBB, where people settled down in certain dark alleys over bottles of odeku to decide how to recycle power among them.
But with the unfortunate death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, the presidency ‘left’ the North and that is to mean that it wasn’t meant to leave in the first place. The implication of this is that Northerners see themselves as having the manifest destiny and prerogative of leadership, rulership, governorship forever in a country where there are as many as 360 different languages and a diversity of cultures so diverse that I cannot understand the rationale for that prerogative that the North wants to exercise. So what we should be looking for now is what indeed my oga has suggested – a return to MERIT with the choice of people who run our lives. We should be looking at the issues not the personalities and geographies of the personalities. But there’s a story about why OBJ ‘put’ GEJ there that most people don’t know about. When he was deputy to Alamieyeisegha as governor of Bayelsa State, OBJ heard that Mrs. Alamieyeisegha dashed GEJ a dirty slap, and GEJ had simply walked away. So OBJ invited GEJ to Aso Rock to hear his version of the story.
‘Is it true that your oga’s wife slapped you and you just walked away?’
‘Yes sir…she’s my oga’s wife therefore she’s my oga’, GEJ replied OBJ.
‘Alright, just sit here and wait for me…I have some other matters I need to attend to…’
This was around 11:00am. When OBJ got back around 8:00pm that same day, GEJ was still sitting exactly where OBJ had left him. In fact, it was an aide that reminded OBJ that GEJ was still where he left him. Perhaps it dawned on OBJ when he was shopping for a dummy that would do his bidding together with an ill man he could easily manipulate after his tenure, the choices became obvious then. This was in the face of some very well qualified candidates from the East, North and South.
But GEJ has turned out to be the greatest disappointment of the century, to OBJ and to a lot of people who expected him to be clueless and ‘weak’. In fact, and perhaps to prove that he’s certainly not the dummy that would do anybody’s bidding, he sacked all of OBJ’s men in the ‘old’
; PDP; and given the well-known antecedents of the Otunba as the most vindictive and most unforgiving soldier ever to come from these parts, it should be little wonder that the Otunba is now the bull in GEJ’s China shop.
Northerners as well who thought they could harass GEJ out of Aso Rock with Boko Haram after their man kicked the bucket are disappointed, and the largeness of their numbers in the fold of the APC and so-called ‘new’ PDP is just a symptom of their political frustration, not that they have anybody’s interest at heart.