Ghosts From The Past: Goodluck Jonathan’s Desperation Will Spell His Downfall

7 March 2010

By Aonduna Tondu

Those hailing Goodluck Jonathan's constitution of his Advisory Council or ‘éminence grise’ as a coup de maître of sorts had better think again. After the sorry spectacle of having to endure the ghastly re-apparitions in Nigeria of discredited former foreign rulers - the administrative debacle called George Bush Jnr., and the mendacious and hypocritical Tony Blair of Britain - in a desperate move to acquire a dubious external legitimacy, the Nigerian citizenry is being treated, this time, to an eerily familiar script consisting in the excavation of cadavers - revenants whose morbid imprints of reaction and decay cannot be said to represent a new beginning. And, as if to further stress his desperation, in the immediate aftermath of the illegal National Assembly resolutions of February 9, 2010 declaring him acting president, Jonathan rushed to reunite with his mentor and godfather, the ex-tyrant known as Obasanjo.

While conceding that one can perhaps benefit from the intellectual baggage of Ben Nwabueze, his alliance with a previous tyranny notwithstanding, the other members of Jonathan's Gray Brigade or Advisory Council do represent atavisms that the nation most definitely does not need at this point in time.

Take ( Rtd. ) General T. Danjuma, for instance. This Croesus and ex-soldier whose specialty is scheming to overthrow governments and thereafter benefit from the spoils is the worst choice possible for adviser to any regime that is seriously contemplating change of the progressive kind. Worse still, as minister in charge of the army during the previous Obasanjo tyranny, Danjuma must take responsibility for the heinous massacres by the military in Odi, Zaki-Biam and surrounding villages in what Amnesty International has already characterized, at least in the case of Zaki-Biam, as carefully planned genocide. Under Danjuma and Obasanjo, the Nigerian equivalent of our army's "force de frappe" was deliberately down-graded, all in a vain and vacuous bid to offer an illusory sense of security for a depraved and hedonistic despot. Importantly also, Danjuma has reportedly had a history of mental problems.

Chief Emeka Anyaoku. Anyaoku and his supporters loudly claim that the man used his position as Commonwealth Secretary-General to provide an effective diplomatic rebuke to the late Abacha's dictatorship. May be so. But were it not for his mysterious demise, Abacha would have transformed into a civilian ruler in spite of the Commonwealth's stand. Beyond Abacha, Anyaoku's posture since leaving his international position has been one of deeply troubling silence in the face of terrible assaults on Nigeria's democratic project in his home state of Anambra and the country in general, especially under the devious and kleptocratic truancy of Olusegun Obasanjo (1999- May 29, 2007). As a matter of fact, Anyaoku was said to be one of the figures that the Ota tin god could count on to help ward off opposition to his impunity-seeking reign or terror.

Alhaji M. D. Yusuf, the former IGP. This man is an enigma. While he was said to be part of the opposition to Abacha, the ex-police man curiously retired to a life of seclusion and mutism following the ascendancy of Obasanjo in 1999. In the mean time, his name has reportedly been associated with high level scandals in the award of federal government contracts. His advanced age and a host of other factors do militate against his inclusion as a member of Jonathan's so-called advisory team.

As for the relatively obscure characters intended to supposedly serve as advisers on economic matters and other subjects, it would be interesting to know their track record and especially what links they have had with the PDP oligarchy. Our recent history has shown that what has been referred to as Corporate Nigeria, for instance, is essentially made up of individuals who are, to a great extent, largely dependent on government patronage and who, in return, have provided much of the financial clout used for the PDP's rigging sprees.

To be frank, what the various press reports are passing off as Jonathan's political tour de force, that is his naming of an advisory council, must be dismissed as a desperate attempt to consolidate a power grab through a cynical reorganization of the Nigerian gravy train. It is worthy of note that the ghosts from the past comprising Mr. Ag. President's Gray Brigade do instil in us, alternately, derision, apathy, revulsion and ultimately, an acute sense of rejection and repudiation. Their respective roles as agents or accessories of past tyrannies do mark them out as not being the kind of resources the nation needs now in order to transcend the PDP-inspired mess the country is grappling with today.

Yet, what is fast looking like another desperate and critical faux-pas of the Acting president is his apparent condoning of what must be considered as the shameless shenanigans of the Minister of Information, Mrs. Akunyili. Of late, Madam Rebrand has been making reckless and unguarded statements intended to impugn the integrity of Mr. President and his entourage. Jonathan should not be seen as condoning Akunyili’s mercenary tactics that are bound to sow disharmony at the presidency, if not within the nation as a whole. He should demonstrate that the woman is not acting out his script by asking her to leave the federal cabinet. As a government appointee, Akunyili is not paid to express her personal or partisan opinions. No serious government should tolerate her acts of reckless impunity. If she wants to redefine the limits of political whoredom, that is her cup of tea. But we must never be made to subsidize that wayward enterprise.

What we need now, as a matter of urgency, are new and transparent elections, not more of the same old and destructive ways of playing politics. This should provide the citizenry the opportunity to select credible alternatives to the PDP's misgovernance. Jonathan represents the status quo and his decision to inflict on us a pathetic cast of gerontocratic schemers and deadwood must be seen as disdainful and unfortunate. So, instead of hailing this obviously bad joke while remaining obsessed with the intra-party struggles in the PDP to the extent of taking sides, self-styled pro-democracy advocates and human rights militants should devote themselves to helping develop the structures necessary for the blossoming of a truly democratic dispensation in Nigeria. Therein lies our collective salvation.



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