Abdullahi M. Gulloma
This week, President Goodluck Jonathan achieved what a substantial section of his fellow countrymen described as a fascinating feat in the tradition of the exercise of power by proving to Nigerians, topmost among them, the aides, until now, regarded as some of the closest and near sacrosanct to him, that a basic tenet of power holds that its custodian could exercise it in its absolute form whenever he deems appropriate to suit his administrative and political strategies.
Jonathan, in his exercise of absolute power, launched a mass sack of his aides, which markedly heralded the long-expected cabinet reshuffle, barely a year to the expiration of his first tenure in the unnecessarily too-much-talked-about 2015.
An exercise of absolute control of power, if one could read the mind of the president, means that none of your aides is practically so close and unbootable as to feel absolutely secure in the immunity of whatever he or she regards as closeness from being dispensed of anytime some crucial administrative and political circumstances demand.
To suit his administrative cum political strategies (did I hear anyone say towards 2015?) Jonathan has showed Nigerians that any aide can be dispensed of without any unnecessary delay as soon as it is found out that he or she has to be. Don’t ask me about these strategies. Imagining, or suggesting, them makes the issue of, and public debate on, the comprehensive political package towards 2015 interesting. Did I hear anyone say time-wasting, mischievous, treacherous, miscalculated, misdirected? Whatever it is should very interestingly remain in the domain of imagination and public debate.
In the mass sack, the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, and four ministers lost their posts for various administrative and political reasons.
It began with Chief Oghiadomhe on Monday, February, 10, 2014. Who, reportedly, was forced to resign due to his alleged involvement in matters that embarrassed the Jonathan government, especially issues surrounding the missing of $20 billion oil sales money, an allegation described by the presidential spokesman, Dr. Rueben Abati, as “completely callous and unreasonable,” arguing that the former Chief of Staff resigned, according to his disengagement letter to the president, to have time to venture into some political necessities.
For whatever reason, Chief Oghiadomhe, hitherto regarded by most Nigerians as one arrogant untouchable, has lost his position as one of the closest confidants of Jonathan. ‘Forced to resign’ or ‘sacked’ means the same thing: one ordered to leave not on one’s own accord.
In spite of the alibi already set by the Jonathan shortly before he left for Ethiopia that any of his cabinet member of major political appointee wishing to pursue some political ambition towards 2015 should resign, ‘resigning on one’s own accord’, as Dr. Abati described Oghiadomhe’s decision, could join, and be in concert with, ‘forced to resign’ or ‘sacked’ in one convergence for a political purpose, considering the prevailing political circumstances.
The alibi could just be created to serve as a potent pretext for such actions that could otherwise have raised some interesting, or ‘irritating’ questions among Nigerians. For example, is Chief Oghiadomhe being prepared for a victorious gubernatorial or senatorial contest on the ticket of the PDP in Edo state to clip the wings of the high-flying All Progressives Congress (APC) there? Nigerians are experts at asking ‘irrelevant and unintelligent’ and ‘relevant and intelligent’ questions in political times.
Nigerians were still deeply immersed in the debate of the possible reasons for the ‘sack’ or ‘resignation’ of Chief Oghiadomhe when, on Wednesday, February 12, 2014, the president announced the removal of four of his ministers – Princess Stella Oduah (Aviation), Caleb Olubolade (Police Affairs), Godsday Orubebe (Niger Delta Affairs) and Dr Yerima Ngama (State for Finance) during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Their removal was on the platitudinous reason given by Presidency. As announced by the Information Minister, Mr Labaran Maku, the four ministers were advised to step down “because they indicated interests in playing deeper roles in the politics of the country.” He stressed that all the four ministers were asked to go home because of their political ambitions.
On the explanation of the real issues, Princess Oduah’s removal might not be unconnected with her role in the controversial purchase of N255 million bullet-proof cars for use by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority towards the end of 2013.
Whether the fired ministers were caught unawares or they already knew they would be fired for various reasons they might have known, it is evident Jonathan is calculatedly practicing the tradition of leaders firing aides at a time and in the methods that suit the implementation of the administrative and political strategies for some perpetuity, necessarily or not necessarily according to public expectations.