It is from the shocked reactions that have trailed the PDPish selection of Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan as presidential candidate and running mate respectively that have precipitation this other reaction. The news media is agog again with this as news and some of us are surprised that a lot of people out there are surprised. As a matter of fact, this goes to show that a lot still needs to be done to educate our people politically and to politically educate our people.
The choice of Yar’Adua as presidential candidate of the PDP, (you may have guessed already), is hardly based on political merit or on the strength of who has the best interest of Nigeria at heart, or on whose Marshall plan for the Niger Delta is most comprehensive. It definitely has nothing to do with the fact that the man is a scion of the indefatigable Late Musa Yar’Adua, who was Obasanjo’s Chief of Staff when Obasanjo was head of state at Dodan Barracks or that they both shared a dinghy cell in Bama during Abacha’s regime, and that based on that sentiment, he became most favoured – I don’t think that those who arrived at that decision to use him as their flag bearer are that simple. It hardly has much to do too with the fact that it is said that the man has exhibited a good measure of prudence with the finances of Katsina state. If that were the case, then it should also be stated that there are other PDP governors, who rank better in stature than Yar’Adua and Jonathan, and whose qualities outshine and dwarf the politically anointed but colourless duo.
If there did exist any cordiality between the outgoing president and his outgoing vice-president, it should have been a matter of course which direction the political pendulum should shift. But they have been at daggers drawn, much to our advantage, if you observe all of the revelations the press fed fat on concerning the PTDFgate scandal that rocked the equanimity of both camps. Now what is on ground is what I thought that Nigerians should have surmised a long time ago- that what we have on ground is a replay, first, of the handing over of power by Obasanjo to Shagari in 1979, and second, of how Obasanjo was put there by the shadowy factors that brokered the ‘arrangee’ that power was to return to the North at the expiration of his tenure, not minding the fact that the rest of us were not consulted. If you cast your mind back a little further back to the days of the military, you would observe that we had this sort of arrangee where Generals like Abacha, David Mark, Bamaiyi and co queued up to take their turns to become head of state after the one had completed the military assignment of plunder.
So, apart from the fact that the choice of Yar’Adua for the PDP ordinarily fell into the scheme of those who insist that Nigeria cannot survive without them and for those who insist on that area boy kind of arrangee, the Northerner who should have contested on the platform of the PDP is a stormy petrel who definitely would rock the PDP reform boat that OBJ had been so passionate about. Tell you what? The man who has been picked as the PDP presidential candidate is really no different from the Shehu Shagari of our second republic president – formerly a poorly remunerated teacher, simple and pliable, having a modern-day Adisa Akinloye (Olabode George) and an Umaru Dikko (Ahmadu Alli) lurking in the shadows to run the show. As things turned out, it seemed OBJ made a mistake in picking a Shehu Shagari in 1979 as against the erudite and progressive Chief Obafemi Awolowo: observe now where that choice got us – that inability to harness the vast potentials that this country possesses that consequently led to the austerity measures and which gave the military an excuse to embark on their so-called redemptive coups. What is palpably discernable here is that OBJ is keen to have a weakling in the saddle that he could control and influence in his capacity as PDP BOT chairman in retirement, at least in the first tenure of their administration.
Therefore, what is on ground in the PDP presidential camp is what can be undoubtedly described as the homosexual marriage of convenience between Mr. Yar’Adua and Mr. Jonathan, contracted to take care of the third term interests of the future BOT chairman of the PDP. In literary terms, we refer to this as the mobius motif, a situation where you have an anaconda constantly trying to swallow its own tail: the more it tries to do so, the more it fails to get hold of its own tail, creating that big circle described in W.B. Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’, where ‘…the best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity’. The implication of this is that we are still making that one-step-forward-three-steps-backward ideologyless move that exposes us as taking care of things so that when we are not there, our protégés would cover our tracks for us.
And now, the choice of Governor Goodluck Jonathan as vice-presidential running mate to Yar’Adua: recall that Atiku too was Governor of Adamawa state like Jonathan when the arrangee people drafted him into OBJ’s wagon. At that time nobody saw them as very strange bedfellows and it became a matter of time before things fell apart between them. What the arrangee people thought they could achieve with the political marriage of that duo who couldn’t share the same bed is keep OBJ well within that ambit of the arrangement that they brokered in the shadows. It will not be too different with the Yar’Adua, Goodluck matrimony. Goodluck is the guinea pig that is supposed to represent the South-South’s wish to be relevant in the political configuration of this country. His selection over other wannabes like Odili and Duke clearly shows that there is a big problem of a dearth of quality leadership in the South-South; almost the same way that that dearth pervades the South East of Nigeria, that the PDP has cashed in on.
What all of this seemingly does is vindicate an earlier position I adopted sometime ago in, To The Wannabe Governors Who Would Be President, published on this website. Yar’Adua and Goodluck are mere errand boys who will do the third term bidding of their political godfather, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Both of them, physically and psychologically, are the alter ego of the Shagari/Ekweme second republic presidency and if that is anything to go by, the PDP may have committed political hara-kiri by selecting such a colourless a pair to attempt to remain in power in a contest dominated by ebullient and virile contestants like Buhari, Atiku and Okotie. If the elections in 2007 will not be characterized by a lot of magomago and jibiti, I don’t see the PDP doing well at the polls next year. On the other hand however, while the PDP may have shot itself in the thigh on the choice of the duo, their choice is what we need to make the political landscape as lively as possible.