They exude defiance by day and by night. They are on a protest binge. They have become stormy petrels in the Nigerian polity. They are at a loss as to why things are the way they are. They are asking why.
This angry assemblage of governors have caused more than a whimper in the polity. They were the real brains behind the re-emergence of Governor Chibuike Amaechi as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF). The governors in question are led by Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State. Others in the league are Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State, Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and Sule Lamido of Jigawa State. They have become the real issue in Nigerian politics of today.
The story behind their defiance is the story of survival in politics. It is the story of who takes what in the game of intrigues. It started way back in time when Babangida Aliyu blurted out over President Goodluck Jonathan’s perceived 2015 ambition. Aliyu went to town with his rejection of the idea. He told the world that Jonathan had a pact with northern leaders to stay in office for only one term of four years. Aliyu could not understand why Jonathan was planning to do otherwise.
This set the stage for other unpalatable scenarios that we have been reaping. The five governors in question are unapologetic about their drive to have power return to the north in 2015. They will not therefore indulge a Jonathan who is scheming to keep the north out of power for another four years, beginning from 2015.
Although the rebellion of the governors against Jonathan points at one thing- the return of power of the north- there are individual dimensions to their story.
Wamakko, for instance, is a product of the caliphate which ascribe the right to rule to itself. He is therefore impatient with a southern intruder who has usurped what appears to him to be the birthright of the north. Wamakko did not even support Jonathan in 2011. He ensured that his state, even though it is controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), voted massively for the candidate of the rival Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.). Wamakko had no apologies for his anti-Jonathan stance.
Murtala Nyako, no doubt, wants power to return to the north in 2015. But his real grouse with Jonathan lies in the handling of the PDP crisis in Adamawa State where he has locked horns with Alh. Bamanga Tukur, the National Chairman of the party. Under Tukur’s chairmanship, Nyako has lost control of the party in the state. His faction of the PDP in the state remains unrecognized. He has practically been stripped naked by Tukur.
In all of this, President Jonathan could have stepped in to save the situation. But he appears to be satisfied with Tukur’s overbearing disposition. Nyako is sad that Jonathan has refused to come to his rescue. He has therefore come to see Jonathan as an ally of Tuku; indeed a co-conspirator who is out to emasculate him of whatever poise and vitality that he may still have in politics.
Rabiu Kwankwaso is an irredentist of sorts. He harbours a strong anti- South disposition. He flaunts his 44 Local Government Areas and argues that those states of the south that are agitating for more states should be beholding to Kano and its population. He is angry about the revenue allocation formula and the onshore-offshore oil dichotomy. He is one of those northerners who feel that the north is not benefiting maximally from the oil wealth from the south. He is therefore decidedly ill at ease with the odour that oozes out of the south.
Then enter Sule Lamdo. This man, we are told, has been primed to become the next president of Nigeria. Feelers from highly placed sources say he is to vie for the office with Amaechi as his running mate. Obviously, Lamido has a 2015 presidential ambition. That was why he jibed at those who have canvassed for an automatic ticket for Jonathan within the PDP fold. Lamdo did not just reject the proposition, he has reminded the Jonathan enthusiasts that the fact of holding the PDP ticket does not guarantee Jonathan victory at the polls.
At first, these men spoke as individuals, but they have now coalesced into one platform. The Jonathan agenda must be brought down. It was this resolve of theirs that has put Amaechi into trouble. As Chairman of NGF, Amaechi was made to take steps that appeared to be anti-Jonathan. He was goaded into most of his actions by these northern agitators.
When it all started, many did not understand why Amaechi, Jonathan’s kinsman, should be the one working against one of their own. But when it became clear that Amaechi had been promised the Vice Presidency slot by the northern elements, they began to make sense out of the ugly set-up. But then discerning minds were not enthusiastic about the offer being made to Ameachi. They did not see the possibility of Jonathan’s kinsman emerging as Vice President just as he is stepping out as president. Such a set-up would mean that political power is clearly tilted in favour of the South South region of Nigeria.
Regardless of the fault lines in their calculations, these men with their allies from the north and south have continued to throw a spanner into the works of the Jonathan Presidency. The situation degenerated to the point where the Presidency was pitted against Amaechi’s NGF. Consequently, the Presidency sought to oust Amaechi as NGF Chairman. The plot failed because the governors in question worked hard to thwart it.
But having emerged in circumstances that took the presidency by surprise, the pro-Jonathan governors decided to play the spoilsport. They propped up a factional NGF Chairman in the person of Jonah Jang of Plateau State. Today, there is crisis in the NGF owing to this set-up.
But if the Presidency thought that Amaechi would soft- pedal based on the pressure from it, it was utterly mistaken. Amaechi became even more deviant because his backers meant business. The result of all this is the crisis that has ensued in Rivers State. Today, the state is under siege. Amaechi’s hold on the politics of the state has become thoroughly shaken. As a mark of solidarity, four of the five governors took a trip Port Harcourt to see things themselves. They got a raw deal at the Port Harcourt Airport. Angry youths pelted them for what was seen as their inglorious role in the crisis in Rivers State.Ever since, they have become more vociferous. Contrary to their earlier stand on state police, the governors are beginning to have a rethink. They are beginning to feel that state police may well be the best option for Nigeria.
Then again, four of them flew into Abeokutta, Ogun State, the other day to see the former President, Ohusegun Obasanjo. They avoided Jonathan who was also in Abeokutta for another event. And now we are told that they have gone to see two former Heads of State, Ibrahim Babangida and Abulsalami Abubakar to complain about the Jonathan Presidency.
With all this, it is clear that the tattle line has been drawn. Will the angry agitators carry the day? Will they be nuzzled by the Jonathan political machine? Only time will tell. But we must, without waiting for the verdict of time, admit that they are the brand new headache that Jonathan must contend with.