By: Ayokunle Odekunle
As an eleven year old boy reading the Legendary Chinua Achebe?s all time classic ?THINGS FALL APART?, a particular phrase got me thinking till I felt I was going to go bananas. He said ?Nza, the wiry bird, after a heavy meal, forgot himself and threw a wrestling match challenge to his chi (personal god). The latter laughed in a guttural voice while Nza danced around in the arena, with his shiny belly in tow. In one swift movement, Nza was seized by the tail and smashed on the stony earth by his chi. The fight ended before it began and the animals ,who looked forward to an entertaining evening, blamed Nza for being unwise and daring too far!?. As a kid, I could not understand why a Nza would want to wrestle with his personal god or in this context, someone placed high and above him.
Later in life, I encountered another phrase fervently used by Mr. Quagraine, my Literature-In-English teacher at Mayflower school Ikenne and it goes thus ?if you teach a fool how to eat stick, he would try to chew timber?.
Now as a man of some years, albeit little, the above quotations have begun to make some sense to me. I have seen men who because of little powers vested in them go berserk like a dog that has tasted blood to feel that he can fight anybody no matter how highly placed.
Reminds me of a boy called MORUFU who stayed in my neighbourhood when I was a kid. Morufu wanted to become a boxer and he thus went under the tutelage of one Coach Luku. After taking a careful look at Morufu?s very slender body, Coach Luku placed him in the Lightweight boxing category, as the coach felt he would be murdered by those in the Heavyweight category. After beating some other boxers in his category and getting some praise from people, he all of a sudden imagined himself on top of the stars. He convinced himself that he?s the best boxer ever.
One day in training, he challenged the Champion among the Heavyweight category to a bout. Coach Luku warned him that he was pushing his luck too far. ?Morufu, wait for your time?, he said. To cut the long story short, he fought Mukaila the best of the Heavyweight boxers. Morufu was not only beaten, he lost an eye to the incident meaning he had become useless as a boxer for life.
The recent ?face-off? between Rotimi Amaechi and President Goodluck Jonathan GCFR has got me cracking; laughing real hard. I have held several tete-a-tetes with several people, read many pieces of information and ?misinformation? from so many newspapers and blogs. One thing is clear: some people do not get the point. Many have been supporting Amaechi because of their love for the ?underdog? while others have been opposing Jonathan because it is the natural thing to do, every of Jonathan?s actions have to be opposed (errr I haven?t mentioned ?Lie? Mohammed and the ACN).
This whole brouhaha stems or let me say was inflamed by the Grounding of Amaechi?s jet not so long ago and like a child whose bread has been seized, Amaechi has been crying and throwing tantrums. People have been taking sides as well. Some people even derided NCAA (Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority) for doing their job; to them, since Amaechi is FIGHTING the President, he has become a saint and should never be touched.
Perhaps, it is important to give the ?Grundnorm? of the problem between the two. For all I know, Amaechi isn?t fighting Jonathan because of the common man neither is he fighting his Boss because he wants a better Nigeria. Their fight stems from AMBITION, POWER AND GREED.
Amaechi is an ambitious man and it is not a sin to be ambitious. I however feel he is going about his ambition the improper way. It is an open secret that he wants to be Nigerian?s Vice President in 2015 by being on the same ticket with Governor Sule Lamido. And ever since their posters hit some strategic parts of the country, Amaechi has become ?unruly?, taking swipes at the President via different fora. Not only that, he has been using his position as Chairman of the Governors?s forum, a PEER group to further his own ambitions. He has been accused of using that platform to turn State Governors against the President, who is the leader of his party, the PDP.
Now don?t get me wrong, I am not saying Amaechi should be subservient or should be the President?s mumu. Far from it. My point is that there are certain ways things should be done. You cannot start a fight with some certain people and then cry home to mummy when those people have started dealing with you. Before entering into any fight, you should carefully weigh the consequences.
Fighting the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is suicidal! NOBODY has ever fought any President of Nigeria and gotten off likely. I would examine TWO people who have engaged the Presidency in skirmishes.
BOLA AHMED TINUBU
Tinubu had a long running battle with President Olusegun Obasanjo over the creation of additional LCDAs in Lagos. While Obasanjo saw the creation as illegal, Tinubu saw nothing wrong in it. Obasanjo being his very undiplomatic self seized Lagos State?s Federal Allocations. Tinubu trounced Obasanjo in all the courts-Supreme Court inclusive. The Supreme Court ordered Obasanjo to release the Lagos Allocations. Did he? NO! What could Tinubu do to the President? NOTHING! Tinubu huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed again. The President had his way. Tinubu had to do a lot of IGR to get money for Lagos State. The President had already made his point known and that is: The President has almost absolute powers in this country.
Let me state that Tinubu was only able to stand up to the President because they belonged to different parties. Had he being a PDP Governor, he would have been dealt with!
He had a long and running battle with his boss, former President Obasanjo. Atiku wanted to be President, Obasanjo wanted a 3rd term in office. Obasanjo in his normally dictatorial style declared Atiku?s office ?vacant?. Meanwhile, Atiku had started romancing with the opposition, making a lot of snide remarks about his boss, the President. He trounced Obasanjo in ALL the court cases but who won at last?
Fine, Obasanjo lost his 3rd term bid but he damaged Atiku?s political career. Atiku has been a political orphan since then, even losing control of his State PDP. The possibility that Atiku would ever become President is the same as me becoming a lady.
Now back to Amaechi?s case, I am surprised that he is getting so much sympathy from people. Taking a cursory look at the few incidents that have occurred in the past few weeks, I am shocked people are blaming the President.
As regards his JET?s matter, I am of the opinion that the NCAA have not acted Ultra Vires their powers. All what they have done is what they are empowered by Law to do. The following questions remain unanswered by Amaechi?s camp
- Who really owns the disputed Jet?
- If it is owned by the Government and People of Rivers state, why was the private jet registered to the Trustees of the Bank of Uttah? Was the private jet purchased through foreign loans obtained from the bank? If it is or it isn?t, what happened to the millions of dollars appropriated by the Rivers State House of Assembly for the purchase of the private jet?
- Was the flight manifest actually submitted to the appropriate authorities hence the refusal of NCAA to clear the plane to fly?
If Nigerians are going to be objective, I feel they should give kudos to the NCAA and should pose posers to Governor Amaechi?s camp. That he is opposing the President doesn?t mean everything that happens to him is a witch-hunt.
Now that Amaechi has thrown caution to the winds and wants total war with the President, I am not convinced if this is the best move for him, firstly, he comes from the same region as the President. No political calculation in 2015 would favour him. I doubt if people from the South/South would vote Amaechi to play second fiddle to a Northerner than to vote for Jonathan to be the country?s number one man.
Furthermore, Amaechi?s romance to the North does not make much sense to me. Does he not know that he would be used and dumped as soon as his relevance wanes? Those giving him ?liver? from the North would dump him as soon as they reach as concession with Mr President.
So, should he join the APC or stick with the PDP?
Well, this is a very hard decision. He has already made himself irrelevant within the PDP. He is fighting the President, Peter Odili, Sekibo, Wike, Austin Opara and a host of big-wigs from his state, he is not even in control of his state?s PDP, and you know the implication? He cannot call for a State PDP meeting. He cant even control delegates that will vote during the PDP Primaries. So would joining the APC do well for him?
NO! let us not forget that Nigerians vote across ethnic lines. Even if he liases with the North, does he think an average South-South man would vote for an Hausa man? NO! His fight with the President notwithstanding, I expect the President to still clear the South-South votes by 99.9% in 2015. Where then does that leave Amaechi?
- Since he has refused to deliver his state to the APC, he would be dumped and then become a political orphan. He would wander in political wilderness and then fade into obscurity.
- He would be termed ?enemy? of the Niger-Delta people who would see him as someone who tried to sell them out to the Hausa/Fulani.
- EFCC would welcome him with a wide grin, open arms and a warm hug. His ?files? would be dusted and he would face the music.
- EVERYONE would flee from him. He would have become a political liability?one to be avoided like a plague.
Do I think he can outwit the Presidency in this cold war? I don?t think so. I even have a feeling that the Presidency have no hands in his recent misfortunes. Should the Presidency actually face him, he is a goner. NOBODY can withstand the Presidency in power and influence. He controls the EFCC, armed forced, Police etc. The President is also the leader of his party, the PDP and can render him persona non grata in the party.
Don?t you people understand? The President is like the all in all. He has unlimited powers and can decide to be autocratic if he chooses to be. He doesn?t even have to be directly involved in this fight, all he has to do is to let his ?caporegimes? handle Amaechi, he has also been made irrelevant within his state?s PDP and ALL the Law makers supporting him have been suspended from the PDP. If the PDP chases Amaechi from the party today, he has become persona non grata. It means he wont even be able to seek re-election as Chairman of the Governors?s forum.
If truly the Presidency is behind his recent travails, I believe they are still serving him with the appetizer. This is a 3 course meal and they are still giving him Pepper soup and Nkwobi. By the time they start giving him the main course, he would be brought to his knees.
While I don?t support Autocracy, I am not for disrespect for constituted authority. If Amaechi wants war, the Presidency should give him war. If he wants politics, he should be given a plate full of politics. He would beg and should never be forgiven. Let him be reminded that the GCFR added in front of the President?s name isn?t just a title or there for decoration!
And Nigerians are a very funny people. They call Jonathan ?Jonadunce? ?weak? ?clueless? and so on. When Amaechi was talking tough, they said ?see o, Ordinary Amaechi, Jonathan cannot handle?. Now that Jonathan wants to show Amaechi small pepper, they are calling him a despot!
I heard that the ACN are saying the President is being ?despotic? (I wonder if they know the meaning of the word). I feel they have no moral grounds here. Bola Tinubu when he was Lagos State Governor REMOVED 2 Deputy Governors:? Akerele Bucknor and Femi Pedro for standing up to him and questioning his authority.
He that is of no sin should cast the first stone!
N.B- I read Charles Soludo?s ?slaughter? of Hell Rufai but that isn?t my concern. Soludo?s C.V is rich and he is an academic monster. I hereby add him to my list of Role Models
Ayokunle Odekunle is a Legal Practitioner based in Ibadan, Nigeria. He can be reached on ‘[email protected] or follow him on twitter @oddy4real