In just nine days, the self-styled Africa’s largest political association, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) suspended two of its governors, with reports that more may also be suspended. Given the role of Nigeria’s all too-powerful governors in hijacking the instruments of state to deliver electoral results that are as improbable as they are criminal, that it is destroying its own nest is indicative of fundamental upheavals within the PDP.
Most hapless Nigerian voters may not be aware of it yet, but our politicians may demand that we go and vote again next year – not in 2015 as widely believed. This may explain why, halfway into President Goodluck Jonathan’s less then lackluster two years in office, the politicking to ensure his reelection for another four years has already started. Clearly, the mandate is to deliver victory at all costs. And clearly too, the garrison commanders have been ordered to take no prisoners.
A frightening face of PDP’s strategy has been exposed by its refusal to accept the election of Governor Rotimi Amaechi as chair of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) because the party establishment preferred the Jonathan-backed Jonah Jang. Where the ‘Locomotive Governor’, who has been unable to maintain peace in his state, plans to get the energy to manage 35 other state governors is another matter.
Another aspect is the reported N10 billion released by government to facilitate the victory of Jang. There is no governor in Nigeria that will spend less than N100 billion this year from their state coffers. About five states are already approaching the half a trillion naira mark in annual spending. And because most governors hardly bother to draw lines between personal and state funds, they have near total control of these sums. Yet, this fact did not deter the presidency from bribing, or at least, attempting releasing money to influence them.
If any doubts remain that the N2.6 trillion that vanished in the name of fuel subsidy was used for politics, then the N10 billion reportedly released for something as routine as the choice of governor to lead the NGF is proof. It also explains why all the forward and backward motions by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the matter remain just that – motion without movement.
The posers are: how much will the government of Jonathan spend to secure another four years in office? Is any price too steep to pay for the PDP? Is the American Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) possible scenario of a break up of Nigeria in 2015 inching towards reality? Will Jonathan and the PDP accept the results of any elections they didn’t win, even if the definition of winning means out-spending and out-rigging the opposition? The warning lights are on, and the sirens blaring.
Meanwhile, a comical sideshow to the NGF saga is the fragmentation of the smaller Northern Governors Forum, especially the reaction of Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi state, who claimed that Jang was the candidate of the North. Which North, the North of 10 million almajirai or the north of abject destitution?
If their collective performance is anything to go by, this crop of northern governors is the worst ever, in terms of security and economic development. It is easier to believe that there is no governance in the North, and much easier to believe that Yuguda is only salivating at the prospects of becoming Central Bank of Nigeria governor under a Jonathan second-term administration.
Maybe the joke was lost on Yuguda when he said he would boycott meetings of the Northern Governors Forum because he felt betrayed that members did not keep their promise to vote for a northern candidate in Jang. For a man whose political life and career are epitomes of betrayal to now complain of betrayal would be funny, had it not been tragic. So it is painful to be betrayed? Welcome to the club: That is what most Nigerians feel when politicians come with all kinds of promises only to betray them once they are in office.
To return to the discourse: If the reaction of the PDP (read, Jonathan) to the defeat of its candidate for the chair of the NGF is anything to go by, what would happen if Jonathan loses the presidential election next year? Actually, nothing.
The level of awareness and political sophistication of Nigerians is changing. The dynamics at state levels have also shifted significantly because fewer governors are up for reelection and do not have the motivation to rig elections as crudely as they did in 2011, assuming that the emerging opposition under the All Progressives Congress (APC) would allow them. But more importantly, most Nigerians that fell for the fresh air and transformation gimmick are still wondering how they managed to fall for such shallow promises.
And in the end though, Nigerians know that no politician or party is bigger than the country. Which is why nothing will happen if Jonathan loses the presidential elections next year.