Home OPINION COLUMNISTS Stella Oduah And The President’s Men By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

Stella Oduah And The President’s Men By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

YaweAt the time General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown in 1975, the most glaring evidence that he had lost control was the choking congestion at almost all Nigerian sea ports. Then, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, (the same PDP man of today) was the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Ports Authority.

The government had ordered more cement than the facilities at the ports could cope and as ship after ship kept coming without discharging its cargo, everywhere was blocked and other essential imports suffered. Nigeria was gradually coming to a halt.

Gowon complained loudly after his overthrow that he imported the cement on expert’s advice and it was unkind of Nigerians to hold him responsible for the mess. General Gowon never named the experts who advised him to flood the ports with cement but I am sure the culprits know themselves.

The problem with the President today is that he is resistant to fresh good advice. He is stuck with old ways and as the time worn saying goes – ‘those who refuse to learn from history are bound to repeat its mistake’.

The PDP has invented a novel formula of sharing public office. From the Presidency down to the office messenger, everything is done by allocation. This narrowly defined theory gives no room for health, competence, comportment and relevant experience for the beneficiary of the job at hand.

Not too long ago, the party allocated the Presidency to the north and it ended up in the bosom of a very sick man. Tragically, he died in office before the time allocated to his region was up. The north hoped that the southerner who held brief for him would follow the allocation formula and step aside. But believing in his goodluck, the man stayed put.

But for President Goodluck Jonathan, his legendary good luck does not appear to translate into good luck with his men and even women. After he won the 2011 presidential poll, he decided to set up his party structures. Everybody knows that even though he denied during his jockeying for the office of President that the PDP had an allocation formula for public office, he stamped his foot down that the chairman of the party was for the north. Coming to the north, he specifically insisted on allocating the office to Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.

Some of us saw wisdom in this allocation. Bamanga came around with a rich cv. Not only did he serve at the ports with a string of achievements, he had a vibrant three month stint as a governor; he was once a viable presidential aspirant, a cabinet minister at the federal level and an international business man. We saw in him the capacity to turn the PDP around from what one of his predecessors described as “a rally” to a vehicle for mass mobilization. We even predicted that he could bridge the yawning gap between the president and the north. Whether he has been able to achieve all the lofty ideals that those of us who support him said he would is left for the public to see. Personally, going by what I see happening in the PDP today and President Jonathan’s ranking with elite politicians in the north, I feel the Bamanga whom I served in the good old days of Gongola has discredited my credentials as a columnist and political pundit.

Even then, given Bamanga’s credentials, the president was right in his hope that the chairman would stabilize the polity so that we could share some fresh air with him. Things did not work out as we thought. Still, the president clings on to Bamanga – his man.

In certain cases however, the president inflicts injury on himself by allocating jobs to the wrong persons. Some weeks ago, the chairman, national Population Commission, Chief Festus Odimegwu resigned. That to me is not the news. The news is that given Odimegwu’s background, the president went ahead to allocate the job of national head count to this man. He had a first class degree. That is true. He distinguished himself as a brewer of intoxicating alcohol. That is true.

Nothing of this man’s background prepared him for the census chairmanship which is a high tension political office in Nigeria. In fact, his only national political act in life was to plunge his alcohol company in the campaign to change Nigeria’s constitution to ensure that Obasanjo became Nigeria’s permanent President. The company realized the danger in this gamble and shoved him aside.

The danger for Jonathan is that by the time Odimegwu left office as Chairman of the census commission, he gave many politicians in the north the impression that he was employed by Jonathan to wipe out whatever advantage the north has in the polity. He was the President’s man.

And then you cast your mind back to the late Gen Azazi. This is the General who was in command in Kaduna when the armoury of the Nigerian army there was burgled and the arms taken to Niger Delta militants who were waging a ferocious war against the Nigerian army. There was a security report to President Yar adua implicating him in the treasonable act. Yar adua retired him quietly but on his death, Jonathan appointed him National Security Adviser. How could a man with such a track record be relied upon when it comes to national security issues?

But it is not just his men that are heavy baggage to carry. When it comes to women, the President likes them rough. For example, what the hell is Stella Uduah doing with two expensive bullet proof cars? Is she on her way to war torn Damascus? Even Saul had a change of mind and name on his way to Damascus. He graduated from Saul to Paul. As a good Christian, Stella should confess her sins so that she will be forgiven.

After the disastrous House first public hearing by the House Committee, it is a surprise that instead of firing the liar, the President even took her to the holy land! From what transpired on that day, it is clear that the Minister breached all the laws in her bid to have the two cars.

Stella and some of the President’s men have served their principal very poorly. They are making him very unpopular. The President himself is not helping himself by keeping them on board.

In 1975, Gowon lost power because of developments on the high seas. In 2015, another man may lose power because of the happenings in the air.
(Views expressed in this and other opinion articles are strictly personal)

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