The ambush By Sam Omatseye

Graphic1President Goodluck Jonathan once had a father. His name is Olusegun Obasanjo, aka Owu Chief. Father was so good to him that he schemed for him, imposed him on others, defended him against a weak and wizened man he made an elder brother to Jonathan. Predictably the elder brother passed on.

Eventually, father did Goodluck the ultimate favour. He perched him on power. Son showed gratitude to father. Father gloated openly over the triumph of son. He loved the son because he seemed pliant, obeying his every caprice.

With time, however, Goodluck did not have a good relationship with father. He looked at the reign of Obasanjo and saw how independent he was, how he flexed his taut and crackling political muscles. He wanted to be like him. But he discovered that they had different traits. He could not perform the press-ups and other political regimens exercises like father. Father is a bull, bullying, hectoring and riding roughshod. He is of a different breed. If father is bull, he loves another kind of creature, the one that does not shout or snarl, that leaves no mark where it inflicts damages, the feline, subterranean, slithering, sinuous, singeing masterpiece of the bush. The snake, that is.

He had to have another father. Quietly he divorced his father, and adopted another one, from the past. His name is Maradona. The difference though is that the Maradona he wanted to adopt was a colourful man, a soldier who had quotable quotes like “we should use what we have to get what we want,” which was a code for corruption. Or that he is “the evil genius.” He also had an elegant wife, even if many thought her a beautiful shrew.

Goodluck does not have the panache, that dramatic flair. His marries a woman without any of the attributes of elegance or taste or refined breeding. His speeches are droll, quotable only for their lack of insights and puerility. For instance, he says, “Boko Haram will go away someday” or “I am not Pharaoh…” Or “I don’t give a damn.”

But he loved the essentials of the man Maradona. He loved the art of deception, which is what snakes have in common with generals. IBB was a general who basked in deception until he deceived himself out of power. When you bring deception to governance, you go very far like the snake though.

The Owu Chief sulked quietly in his Ota farm before he started writing letters in his usual flourish and showing openly that storm brewed in the once halcyon family, and father and son no longer hugged or backslapped. Scowls now reigned where smiles bloomed.

Perhaps that explained why he visited his father recently. He wanted to hone the skills of deception from the father-master. The father rejoiced in his Minna mansion at the visit of the son. He played his Maradona game, by first adopting Jonathan, then renouncing him by saying his corruption makes mincemeat of his own fabled rottenness in office. Later he seemed to adopt the son again. It is credit to his Maradona majesty that no one can say for sure if he backs Jonathan or not. In the last Council of States meeting, he pitched his tents against Jonathan’s generals who said they did not want Jega to go ahead with the polls. Maradona father knows how to tread without footprints.

But Jonathan has been playing true to his new father. In the now contentious issue of postponed elections, he began by playing the game like his new father. He met with United States Secretary of State John Kerry who suggested that it was not proper to postpone the polls. Jonathan the faithful Maradona did not say he disagreed about election date. He simply said he would hand over on May 29. Just then, his National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, trotted to Chatham House in London where our governors and sundry politicians like to flaunt their credentials. He, a national security adviser, did not speak about security issues in the upcoming polls. He lamented over Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) that were not in enough hands for the elections. The presidency still said they were going to the polls on February 14. INEC chief Attahiru Jega assured the nation that he was ready for the polls and that 96 per cent of the PVCs had been sent to the states, while at least 66 per cent had been delivered to prospective voters.

When the PVC debate slipped out of the hands of the PDP, they began to shift the debate to security. Elements from the PDP began to suggest that February 14 was unrealistic. We should put it off. Reason: insecurity in the Northeast. Jega said most of the Northeast was not in the hands of Boko Haram. Even though the national average of persons with PVCs was 66 per cent, the average in the Northeast was over 70 per cent in Gombe, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

In the Council of States meeting, only the service chiefs and Jonathan and the PDP governors did not want the elections. Former heads of state and chief justices and APC governors wanted it to go ahead. The whitlow of the west was singled out as pro-Jonathan, anti-election, anti-people henchman in the meeting. His name is Olusegun Mimiko, otherwise known as the quisling governor of Ondo State.

Insistent, the president sent out his mouthpiece, the voluble Doyin Okupe, – who was recently disgraced in a church – who showed that the president was afraid of the polls. He said one area was outside the powers of INEC: security. So the trump card was eventually in the open. When a snake wants to strike it will show itself since it is not a spirit. This newspaper reported on Saturday that the President demanded a six-week postponement from Jega. That very day, Jega announced that he was putting the polls off by six weeks. The witch cried last night and the child died this morning. Who does not know the connection?

In times of crisis, people show their true colours. We know the president cannot hide his false meekness. He can go to as many churches as he pleases and tell the Christians that he does not want to campaign as though he is talking to fools. We know the president was afraid of the polls all along. We know wolves in sheep clothing.

He has come out, like autumnal leaves, in true colours.

We should realise that Jega was coerced to change the polls dates, no matter what the INEC chief says. Jonathan withdrew security by letting his collaborating cowards of service chiefs declare they cannot work for the elections. Jonathan is the commander-in-chief. He it is who has abdicated his first duty to the citizens. The service chiefs only played along.

Jega could not answer the question as to whether he could guarantee that the elections would take place on March 28. He alluded to the constitution, which mandates an election a month before May 29. Nigeria is, apparently, relying on Chad and Cameroun who have turned the giant of Africa’s army into a dwarf of cowardice in battle. Smaller neighbours have become the Samson and David of the war on terror. Does that guarantee that they will sweep Boko Haram out by March 28? The Americans with all their sophistication have said it will take years to defeat Islamic State in the Middle East. Jonathan says six weeks. I foresee a constitutional quagmire that will bring the nation to brinkmanship, if not to its knees. When in March Jonathan and his men still know they are headed for a defeat, they would still raise the spectre of insecurity. They would invoke the doctrine of necessity and say that they want the constitution changed so that we can get more time to prepare for elections. May 29 will no longer be sacrosanct. I foresee a Jega resignation or ouster of some kind, and a struggle between those who want the constitution and those who don’t.

What we see today is a president who is running away from a time. But he cannot run away from time. He is running away from the people also. But both time and people will catch up with him. Maradona did same, postponed election after election and handover dates after handover dates. Eventually, the inviolate voice of the people spoke. Time always overthrows tyrants.

NATION

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