APC: Power is never served a la carte By Femi Orebe

President Jonathan looks to me a much more desperate politician than erstwhile President Obasanjo

Power is never served a la carte’, is a regular refrain of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Lagos State governor, and now one of the leading lights of the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress. He should know. He has bruises to show for his many battles against power, i.e entrenched impunity in our country which, like corruption, fights back very ferociously in aid of the status quo of power without responsibility, except to self.  This once led former President Olusegun Obasanjo to make one of his most important statements ever when, at a PDP congress, he said the party existed, or was at best, cohered only by patronage or the expectation of it.  Both the PDP and the incumbent president have shown beyond any doubt that they will brook no opposition nor concede any quarters to the opposition in the titanic 2015 battle. As far as they are concerned, going by what they do and what we hear their militant supporters say, nothing is sacrosanct; not individuals, not the very existence of Nigeria as a united country. Therefore, as you read this, a sitting governor has no Aide de camp, no chief security officer and the Nigeria Police can look askance, like the governor’s security is no longer a concern of theirs even as certified militants bay for his blood. All this because of an alleged ambition they won’t even let him declare. Nor are their members of only a few months back, but now of the New PDP, fairing any better.

Consisting of seven governors and a number of leading members of the PDP –they have not defected – they must now, like governor Amaechi, no longer sleep. Indeed, if the PDP has its way, not only Baraje and Oyinlola, but also Obasanjo and Atiku will be behind bars while plans are hatched as to how to truly, and manifestly, humble those seven governors who have the temerity to call attention to the Tukur-led crippling political repression in their party.

I have gone all this length to properly situate what humongous battle lies ahead of those wanting this county to take its rightful place in the comity of nations and not be seen simply as the domicile of corruption and ineptitude because, even with all the make-belief, President Jonathan looks to me a much more desperate politician than erstwhile President Obasanjo. It must be said, in mitigation though, that while he does not look personally desperate he is simply incapable of reining in those who want him to literally commit murder for the sake of 2015.

Without a doubt, the most at risk are leaders of the APC and, ipso facto, the party itself. A little history will help but space will not allow details.

For just being considered stubborn and vociferous, a PDP president decreed  that the licence of Orji Uzor Kalu’s Slot Airline be  withdrawn and hundreds of his employers thrown into the unemployment market just as Tinubu, for the same alleged offence, had billions of naira due Lagos State local governments withheld. The minute Buba Marwa was touted as the ANPP presidential candidate, and becoming rather threatening to the Third Term project, it was  time for the EFCC to move against him and get him detained him for weeks in December 2005, on allegations of laundering money for General Abacha.

On Thursday, 7 September 2006, the Senate heard that an Administrative Panel set up by President Obasanjo had found Atiku guilty of utilising funds in the account of the Petroleum Development Trust Fund for personal use while it said nothing of same funds being used to buy a car for a female acquaintance of the president. All that for opposing the Third Term agenda even if some spurious reasons of an American report were to be given later. In similar circumstances, Freedom Radio was shut down, Africa Independent Television (AIT) was serially embarrassed and intimidated and its transmission equipment near the National Assembly was destroyed because it ran the Senate hearings.

All these again to forewarn leaders of the APC that they must remain focused amidst intimidation of all types. Lies and all manners of concoctions will be levelled against them individually but they must, for the sake of Nigeria, brace up and be men of principles. It will not only be scare-mongering but bribes will be offered too, in a carrot and stick, double-pronged attack. A good example is what happened to Hon Nairu Dantiye of the ANPP during the Third Term campaigns.  On rejecting his own N50m, he was freshly offered one million dollars in cash, at night on Thursday, 11 May, 2006 , at a hotel in Abuja.  As he told Punch in an interview published on Monday, 15 May, 2006: ‘My price shot up like crude oil about three days ago. It increased from N50m naira to one million dollars’.  But the failure of the offerer to guarantee that he would live long enough to enjoy the loot, which was his counter offer, vitiated the deal. Even oil blocks were offered. This presidency may not be averse to any of these ploys to ensure Jonathan returns in 2015. APC leaders must, therefore, have honourable Alhaji Dantiye at the back of their minds when their own temptations come.

And one has already come in the latter-day readiness of President Jonathan to approve the convocation of a National Conference. As usual, this is already trending on the wide web and I have had my say too. Below are some of the comments I have already offered.

My first was a poser to some mails: Must you really put any stock by this Greek gift? Don’t you by any means remember the SAP debates? Didn’t IBB get his required time to plan the never, never transition programme? What about Yar Adua’s Uwais Committee on Electoral Reforms? Where did it lead to? Were this a year ago, when President Jonathan still had PDP intact, I just might have given this a thought. But today, in my view, it is nothing more than a well calculated diversion and one must give it to the Jonathan ‘2015 Think Tank’. The choice of Senator Okunrounmu as Chairman was, for me, the clincher’.

Critics of my position wrote back and I replied: Please let’s do a reality check, beginning from the basics; the president can only be doing this if he believes it will help him electorally in 2015. Then the following. 1. The Southwest has been most vociferous about a Sovereign National conference and one of its prime demands is fiscal federalism. Let us assume Okunrounmu is dexterous enough to get this. Will it make the Southwest – now with APC governments and most likely to field a strong presidential candidate – prefer Jonathan, as happened in 2011?   2. I believe also, that we can safely assume that the majority of northerners will detest fiscal federalism. Will that decision therefore hurt or help the president in 2015?  In my view, this will serve no more than good photo ops and beautiful newspaper headlines

An avalanche of views, even a possible agenda for the conference, then came in and I wrote back as follows:  Even on this podium we already have suggestions as to people wanting representatives on the basis of the 774 Local Government Areas, who, of course, must, in their words, not be politicians. Very fine by me. Now you allude to the Southwest Integration effort. Assuming that this were acceptable to everybody in that zone, marshalling it will then bog down the All Progressives Congress and thereby achieve what I personally consider one of the main targets of this ploy – diversion. Of course, the president has already succeeded by diverting attention to the talk show as you are no longer going to hear of such things as the president’s  ‘cluelessness’,  as was previously the case. And how do you approve decisions of a conference which is not sovereign and where the north already has much more than half the numbers in the National Assembly? Why is the president allowing it now with all the raging challenges he faces?  Also, has he decreed the National Assembly out of existence, since he once said it can’t happen as long as that body was in place?

I concluded my contribution as follows and tried to respond to views that this should, indeed, be an opportunity for ‘pastors’, not politicians, to straighten the cause  of our country:

I can’t remember how nice it is to be led by the nose.

Fortunately, even if out of self interest, those politicians we want exempted this time around, are at their best when the government is out to send them on a frolic. I guess they would rather err on the side of caution. They are most unlikely to fall for this presidential trick.

Enough history, then, for APC leaders.

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