Time Ticks for Ebele Jonathan
It is not an omission. That I write the president’s name in the headline above without the very first and official one – Goodluck. It was by choice. Because President Jonathan’s goodluck is fading fast. The cloud is gathering. And the clock now seems to be ticking for the man from the minority that won his election by unprecedented majority.
I see a bad omen. And I clear my throat – to draw attention as I say this: Jonathan may be impeached! I write from the bowel of history. Folks from the Niger Delta region have vowed that it would be the end of their unholy union with Nigeria if Jonathan is impeached or Boko Haram incapacitates his government. But I will beg them to peep into the transparent seal of history. Balarabe Musa, worthy to be called Alhaji, a man of iron cast candour and integrity, was a governor of incredible fame; passionate about grassroots, highbrow in cut and character.
In Nigeria’s second republic, Musa found himself a governor in a Kaduna State where his party, the People’s Redemption Party, PRP, was a minority in the state House of Assembly. When the then ruling National Party of Nigeria, NPN, the majority in the House decided to impeach him for unjustifiable reasons, many, including the media warned that Kaduna would burn. NPN kept their perilous promise. Musa was removed. But perhaps nobody supplied the fuel. And Kaduna did not burn.
Many may fault my prognosis. They are likely to say that Jonathan’s party has majority in the National Assembly. But I can tell today that PDP may be more in number, but President Jonathan is in the minority in the National Assembly. The acoustics of the House are rather idiosyncratic and the name Jonathan no longer carries presidential civilities. This is cause for worry.
The Ominous Signs
How is it that a man in opposition party could pronounce a word as grave as impeachment of the president and get overwhelming endorsement of the House? How could a subject as the poor implementation of the budget provoke so much angst? When did our Representatives start caring about us so much that they now reject even presentation of the 2013 budget insisting that they must resolve questions arising from the 2012 budget?
I seem to be hearing a voice begging our Reps to civilise our democracy and humanise their idiosyncrasies. If they cannot hold unto the ark of history and pull it towards the hope of a better day for Nigerians, then let them pause to reflect on the noble ideals of patriotism enunciated in their oath of office.
But perhaps Jonathan should have known. He should have known that a President must be tougher than fear and must be equipped with serpental wisdom. That way, he will never acquiesce to blackmail.
Sadly, the president fell for blackmail. He wanted desperately to climb from the slippery floor of an Acting President to a President. The governors understood his desperation. And so they demanded for an extra fund from the Consolidated Crude Account. A man who had encountered dizzying disrespect, Jonathan acquiesced to give his voice power and command. He got them but a price had been paid.
Today, the president walks the crucible. I see beyond the budget debacle in his soul-pricking trek. Nigerians see beyond cares for their welfare. The botched Farouk Lawan Oil subsidy committee, the shrinking constituency projects budget and the introduction of due process in the affairs of the National Assembly seem to me implicit in the current sizzle. Still, 2015 is a factor in this Assembly quake.
For the guys called the lawmakers, Jonathan must bend or break. He surrendered to blackmail at the beginning, he will have to do it again. Unfortunately, the issues do not seem to simmer. They now sizzle and are getting increasingly too hot for Mr. President.
Here comes the Senate. The senior chamber has endorsed the budget implementation jangle from the House. They have forced the President to reverse himself on the approval given to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for the introduction of N5000 bill. They have even decided to attach conditions to their resolutins to give them the power of an edict and make them binding on the executive. A gradual but steady castration of the Presidency is what a discerning eye sees.
And I ask: “What exactly is left for Mr. President? My candid advice is that he should take a cue from the National assembly, whereas they are entitled to their over-sight functions, it is the President’s call to preside over the governance of the country. If Mr. President fails to rein his traducers in, it will only be a matter of time before they nudge him out. The time for fence-mending and consolidation is now! Mr. President must seize the initiative before the National Assembly ceases his reign!