THE IMPARTIAL OBSERVER
Ogbulafor’s Gambit and Dilemma
A plethora of intra-PDP and national problems exist, which Prince Ogbulafor must ponder and tackle with dexterity, and without loss of political credibility and his personal standing within PDP and as an Igbo and southeast political chieftain. I do not envy him! ….Rather, I feel for him. Heads or tails, he may lose.
For many Nigerians, especially from the southern parts, PDP’s National Chairman Prince Vincent Ogbulafor engaged in heresy when he recently proclaimed a “no vacancy” for southern candidates within his party during the 2011 presidential elections. Still, many Nigerians would have cared less about such an utterance but for the fact that it also meant that the ruling PDP was ready to preclude Acting President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting the next presidential elections, purely on the grounds of PDP’s zoning policy.
Did Ogbulafor engage in a political faux pas? What many missed, is the inextricable quandry the ruling PDP Chairman finds himself in – which outmodes and outweighs the proverbial “between the rock and a hard place”.
Prince Ogbulafor is a man, who must either serve God or Mammon, but not both. He is a man who cannot say that he loves Jesus but can’t stand a Jew. He is a man who must protect the Nigerian Constitution, but also uphold the PDP zoning orthodoxy. He is an Igbo man, who discernibly, has nothing against Acting President Goodluck Jonathan becoming Nigeria’s president, but knows that such a development will defeat the the Igbo aspiration and claim to the presidency when it is zoned to the south in 2015.
Ogbulafor is a man in a fix and mirrred in political quicksand and bereft of any help from his friends and his traducers. When he spoke after meeting the nation’s governors recently, he spoke from a point of political pragmatism, which many mistook as being pro-north and anti-Jonathan. Ogbulafor’s words: “I am very happy that we discussed national issues. We discussed the issue of zoning and agreed that since the South ruled for eight years, then the North must also rule for eight years.” Factual, but not generally acceptable to most Nigerians outside the ruling PDP.
Though Ogbulafor finds himself and his ruling party in quicksand, he is not
expected to be politically celibate.
Still, the line that divides partisan alignment and national interest
dictates, are extremely broad. When
Ogbulafor elected to publicly focus on that chasm, as if sheepishly blinfolded,
he caused understandable angst and drew oppobrium.
Many believed that he was dead wrong to
push the PDP zoning agenda, more so, by not qualifying his comments as strictly
pertaining to PDP. But those sifficiently versed in the inner workings and
While within his remit to speak on such party issues as the custodian of PDP old and established orders, I believe that Ogbulafor may have erred, both the in timing and in going public when he did, with “the North must have the presidency in 2011” proclamation. He behaved like a man who jumped before he was pushed. He may have spoken his mind and the inconvenient truth, in keeping with his party’s zoning policy. But for someone who must balance party interest and broader national interest at all times, he should have understood that sometimes, the inconveneint truth rhymes with principles rather than precepts. Hence, it is better to practice than to preach.
One reality Ogbulafor must now grapple with, is that under his leadership, the ruling PDP must confront its self-induced nemesis and may very well self-destruct by upholding its zoning policy or by repudiating it. In that event, its best-case-scenario, would be to lose the 2011 presidential election under Ogbulafor’s watch.
I am not one who subscribe to consiracy theories, but some seem enticingly credible. As an interlocutor informed me recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s choice of Goodluck Jonathan as President Yar’Adua’s running mate in 2007, was a plot to further delay an Igbo presidency. The simple arithmetic he proffered was quite convincing, and it seems to be one that Ogbulafor might be aware of – and might subscribe to, hence his proclamation.
The sum and hypothesis went thus: Had Yar’Adua served a full two terms, ending in 2015, with Goodluck Jonathan as his deputy for the eight years, VP Jonathan would be PDP’s unquestionable heir apparent for the presidency when it returns to the south. PDP would want to avoid a repeat of VP Atiku’s debacle. As the choice candidate, Jonathan would certainly do well against any Igbo, south-east or south-south candidate, and given PDP’s less-than-democratic nomination style, unlikely to face any stiff opposition. Consequently, an assuming he is elected, with Jonathan’s two terms in office as president, the presidency will return to the north for another eight years, before coming south again. At that point, when the Igbo or south-east geo-political zone might legitimately claim the right to run, and indeed present the first viable and uncontested Igbo presidential candidate within PDP, it would be year 2031 – some sixty-one year after the end of the Nigerian-Biafran war. In my interlocutor’s mind’s eye, this Obasanjo’s iron-clad grand design against the Igbo, could only be aborted or redressed, if there was a default change in leadership by natural attrition, impeachment, resignation or by unconstitutional means, the latter being most unlikely.
Now, even if one were to conjecture that Ogbulafor was aware and mindful of forgoing scenario, could one also possibly suggest that his inclination to assure that the presidency returns to the south and to the Igbo in 2015, would warrant his willingness to undermine the Constitution, which calls for the Acting-President Jonathan to succeed the President Yar’Adua if the latter leaves office, regardless of the mode of exit?
PDP has a niche for dealing with its in-house-irritants as “private affairs,” often at the expense of the nation. It will be compellingly telling, to grasp how the party would convince Acting-President Jonathan not to run in 2011, and even if they do, also convince the people of the restive south-south, that their region is good to be the nation’s honey and gold pot, but not good enough to produce a president. It would be even harder to imagine, how PDP would expect to win any election in the south-south zone under such circumstances. So, a plethora of intra-PDP and national problems exist, which Prince Vincent Ogbulafor must ponder and tackle with dexterity, and without loss of political credibility and his personal standing within PDP and as an Igbo and south-east political chieftain. Though every prince must be imbued with some elements of Machiavellianism, I do not envy Prince Vincent Ogbulafor !
For sure, there cannot be a fake solution to Yar’Adua’s exit and the attendant
PDP zoning-induced problem, and Ogbulafor knows it.
Perhaps, in the party’s collective wisdom and interest, or as an Epiphany
–which may also serve greater national good --
Acting-President Goodluck Jonathan, in consideration of his spate of good
luck may elect to recuse himself form the presidency in 2011, under any
circumstance. In that case, he must
do so early and resolutely, just as President Lyndon Johnson did on
Prince Ogbulafor has his advisers and minders. I doubt that he needs a meddlesome pundit to guide him through his meters or the pitfalls of PDP’s unfathomable politics. I do not consider him maladroit; neither do I think that he got to his present position by sheer political naïvete. Yet, Ogbulafor cannot overlook the fate that befell his predecessors when the political stakes within PDP got high and hot, as they are now (see Audu Ogbeh's crime). Certainly, he cannot and do not wish to be seen as going against Acting President Jonathan, not now that Western countries have made Jonathan their poster boy for salvaging a drifting Nigeria. Also, Ogbulafor does not wish for the dubious distinction of being in the company of presumably disloyal former AGF Michael Aondoakaa and former NAS, General Sarki Muktar. More significantly, Ogbulafor must not be seen as the Igbo man under who’s watch the legitimate turn and shot of the Ndiigbo within PDP at the Nigerian presidency in 2015, was frittered away and mortgaged on the altar of PDP maladjusted politics. Again, I do not envy Prince Ogbulafor. Rather, I feel for him. Heads or tails, he may lose.
With neither anger nor partiality, until next time, keep the law, stay impartial, and observe closely.
is a columnist for
Kwenu.com. His observations on
Nigerian, African and global politics and related issues, has appeared in
various print media, journals and internet-based sites. © Hank Eso,