Monday, March 9, 2015 1:02 pm
By Kanayo Esinulo
“The Yes man is the enemy,
Your friend will always try to argue with you.”
A popular Russian proverb.
It surprises some Nigerians, and I am one of them, that party chiefs, friends, associates and official aides of President Goodluck Jonathan are either shy or afraid to tell him that the utterances and conduct of his wife, Dame Patience Faka Jonathan, are doing great harm and havoc to his re-election project. In addition to the Russian proverb quoted above, there is also a popular saying among my people that ‘a man who speaks the truth all the time usually has very few friends’. Honestly, and I say this with deep respect, unless and until, Mr. President seriously advises his wife to tone down her rhetoric and be less visible in this campaign, Jonathan and his party may lose so many otherwise sure votes to the opposition on account of her conduct, utterances and behaviour in the public square. Anyone who is genuinely interested in Jonathan’s political victory, career and future should advise him to call Dame Patience to order – and the earlier, the better, because time is fast running out.
As I write this, Jonathan may have lost nine precious votes of my neighbour and his household who, until that fateful morning, were his admirers and supporters. The patriarch himself called my attention to the new outings of the First Lady and complained about what she said in Calabar. In my previous discussions with him and his wife on Nigerian politics, and the way the campaigns are going, particularly in the two major political camps, I have always known that the retired company executive and his wife, four children who visit regularly, the man’s driver and two domestic staff were for Jonathan. How did I know? The day the couple succeeded in getting their Permanent Voter Cards, PVC, they were happy that, at last, they were now in a position to vote for the candidate of their choice. I asked who that lucky candidate would be. The answer was a chorus: G-E-J. “Infact, my wife and I, our children and our staff are for GEJ’. But this morning, while I was jogging around our neighbourhood, my neighbour’s wife walked up to me and wanted to know if it was right ‘for Dame Patience to be insulting someone else’s husband. Is that right, neighbour, is that right?’ I didn’t know what answer to give. I hadn’t, by then, read the latest on Dame Patience.
What is it again, this time? The story making the rounds was that Dame Patience said at a rally in Calabar that “Buhari is brain-dead, and can hardly remember anything”. To any woman who sees and holds her husband as a living angel, insults and castigating insinuations against someone else’s husband is not acceptable. It is condemnable. It is not right. It is not fair. Dame Patience needs to be called to order or else her style and conduct would cost her husband hundreds of thousands of assured votes. In fact, this is not the time for Dame to be waging unnecessary wars in the name of political campaigns. She is harming the campaign so much. And those who enjoy some closeness to the President should now advise him to call madam to order. Her claim that PDP would govern Nigeria for sixty years is just a rehash of the Ogbulafor theory of many years ago which has since been dumped in the dustbin of history. It is performances that largely determine how long a party gets re-elected, not mere claims and rhetoric. Someone near enough should, please, tell Mr. President to talk to his wife, if they are honest with him. Unless they are telling us that the necessary advice has been given, but no actions were taken.
Dame Patience did not start today, neither did the current ‘roforofo’ political campaigns that we are witnessing. It started in Okrika, her home town, when she reportedly snatched a microphone from Chibuike Amaechi while the governor was still speaking at a public gathering. She descended on the governor of her state and said so many ‘bad, bad things’ about Amaechi and his administration. That was the beginning of the raging political war in Rivers state today. A state hitherto dominated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and taken for granted as a PDP state, began to suffer a serious crisis of confidence and it did not take long before the governor joined the opposition, leaving the party almost an orphan in the state. With time, more polarisations began to occur – all traceable not to Goodluck Jonathan, but to the First Lady’s meddlesomeness in the affairs of the party in the state. Last year’s PDP primaries in the state deepened the crisis, from which it is still battling to regain balance and stability. No doubt, the polarisation, fracas and defections would cost President Jonathan a lot of votes.
Almost the same level of bad blood now exists within the PDP in Bayelsa, Mr. President’s home state. The First lady is not on the same page with Governor Henry Seriake Dickson. She simply does not like the man’s face any more and thinks the man should not show face for a second term. Also, her meddlesome in PDP affairs in Abia state is not going down well with some party chiefs and stalwarts. The raging battle between loyalists of former governor and the incumbent, with dame Jonathan identifying with a faction, would certainly cost Jonathan some votes. In Asaba, Delta state and before a well-attended PDP rally, Dame overran everyone present – her husband, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghah and other party chiefs – and stole the show, as if it was she that Nigerians are about to vote for. But it was in Calabar that Dame Patience almost lost control and certainly went to the very extreme. On tape, which has now gone viral, she was caught instructing the party faithful to stone anyone who shouts ‘Change’- the signature tune of the main opposition party. That instruction was outrageous and Jonathan would lose so many votes, if Dame Patience is allowed to continue this way. She needs to apply the brakes – now!
If Dame’s increasing excesses are not halted now, the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, would reap a harvest; and whatever victory the latter achieves in the coming elections may not, I dare say, be attributable to its superior arguments or superior values or achievable campaign promises, but to the unintended contributions of the First Lady to their campaign efforts. It may be uncharitable for the Presidential Campaign spokesman of the APC to describe her as “an incredibly crude woman . . . and it is discourteous and inexcusable for the wife of any President to make infantile pronouncement,” but she invited it. It is normal for a wife to wish her husband victory, but totally abnormal to repeatedly heap abuses and unprintable insults on someone’s husband. It is not fair. It is not justifiable.
Yes, the opposition is saying that the Jonathan administration, in the past six years, performed far below the average. And it came up with the slogan ‘Change’. It has the absolute right to think that way. It is their assessment of the man and his administration. On their part, PDP and Jonathan believe that the Railways are back on track, airports are better than they were, the monopoly called NEPA has been unbundled, education and health are witnessing improvement, etc. It is also their right to tell us what they believe are their achievements these past years. But what I am not too sure of, is whether anyone has the right to legitimise abuses, insults and curses as facilities for political campaigns, and the knack for publicly running down someone else’s husband. To me, that smacks of bad politics. Dame’s rhetoric needs to be tuned down remarkably, and curses halted so that campaign messages are not suffocated in impact. Her style and preferred methods do not, in any way, add value to the re-election project of her husband. Instead, they diminish the very essence of what Mr. President and his party want to achieve.
–For more: www.kanayoesinulo.com