Like the sword of Damocles, perception about President Goodluck Jonathan is pushing some of the country’s major political families towards different political poles
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo apparently does not care a hoot about what many Nigerians think of President Goodluck Jonathan; whether good or bad.
She was clear on that when she wrote a blistering severance letter to her father last December.
“This letter is not in support of President Jonathan or APC or any other group or person, but an outpouring from my soul to God,” the former senator wrote in a letter that was partly triggered by her father’s own open letter to Dr. Jonathan.
But how President Jonathan stirred the famous break up between father and daughter was given fillip with the denunciation by Iyabo of her father as a hypocrite who would not allow on himself what he was supposedly doing to President Jonathan.
“For you to accuse someone else of what you so obviously practiced yourself tells of your narcissistic megalomaniac personality,” Senator Obasanjo wrote in a letter that stirred wild celebration among several political associates of President Jonathan.
Given the acidic content of the letter earlier written by President Obasanjo to President Jonathan, many independent stakeholders were tempted to believe that Senator Obasanjo had become a pawn in the fight between the two presidents.
But Senator Iyabo Obasanjo whose difficult experience as a senator, especially when she was unduly tried for an offence that was later proved not to be a misdemanour, was quick to disavow political undertones to the issues between her and her father.
Iyabo and her father are not the only family members to be separated on the issue of Jonathan. Across the country Dr. Jonathan has also been the cause of rift among some other families in the public eye.
The Adamawa State Commissioner for Environment, Mrs. Arziki Sawa and her husband Senator Andrawus Sawa are no less equally divided by the Jonathan phenomenon.
Senator Sawa, a former military officer reputed to be at one time a very close friend of Governor Murtala Nyako was allegedly instrumental to the nomination of his wife as commissioner in the cabinet of Nyako.
The governor and Senator Sawa served in the military at about the same time. Some claim that the appointment of his wife into the Adamawa cabinet followed the failure of the governor to give his one time friend a federal appointment.
But the truth of how the two fell out remains a secret that only the two men will tell one day.
Even though Senator Sawa has firmly turned his back on Nyako and become a strong backer of Jonathan, his wife has continued to sojourn in the cabinet.
When on Monday, December 16, 2013 the Adamawa State chapter of the PDP held a massive rally to endorse President Jonathan’s leadership of the country, Senator Sawa was very visible.
However, two days after that rally when the Adamawa State Executive Council met and unanimously resolved to defect to the All Progressives Congress, APC, the absence of Mrs. Arziki Sawa was as conspicuous as the presence of her husband was noticed in the PDP rally supportive of Dr. Jonathan.
It was as such not difficult for some to speculate that Mrs. Sawa had joined her husband to support Jonathan against the declaration by her colleagues in the State Executive Council to join the APC.
A troubled Mrs. Sawa was quick to dissociate herself from the rally and to pledge support for Governor Nyako as she gave reasons for her absence.
“I am 100 per cent behind Baba Maimangoro (Governor Nyako) and there is no way that I can abandon him, so I am 100 per cent behind him in APC and wherever he is going, I will go with him,” Mrs. Sawa told Vanguard in a telephone interview. “I don’t know who is behind the reports.”
Clarifying her absence at the eventful State Executive Council meeting where the resolution to defect to APC in solidarity with Nyako was taken, she said:
“The truth is that I went for an official engagement in Abuja and so maybe because they didn’t see me at the declaration but I cannot point at any person as being behind the reports. If there is anybody spreading the report, that person is telling a lie and he will never see me going the other way and just wants to bring chaos.”
Mrs. Sawa was away at a meeting of the National Council on Environment in Abuja when the decision by the cabinet to defect to the APC was taken.
The Minister of State, for Federal Capital Territory, Ms Jumoke Akinjide on her part has united with her father, Chief Richard Akinjide in following the PDP mainstream supportive of Dr. Jonathan against the position taken by her husband, Rep. Ahman Pategi, a member of the House of Representatives.
Pategi from Kwara State, was among the 37 members of the House of Representatives who defected from the PDP to join the APC last month.
The minister who lives with her husband and is reported to have a very solid relationship with him in their Abuja home was quoted to have told the online medium, Premium Times, that she would never leave the PDP for the APC. Apparently, the minister’s affection for the PDP will not disrupt the well known affection she is believed to have towards her husband.
“I’ll never ever leave the PDP. The Akinjide family is loyal to the PDP and loyal to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. My father, Richard Akinjide is a founding member of the PDP and a member of the PDP Board of Trustees.”
“I am the arrowhead of the PDP in Oyo State as the minister in an opposition state. I will continue to work hard to ensure the success of Mr. President, the Transformation Agenda, and the success of the PDP at the polls in the 2015 elections.”
Arguably one of the most intriguing divisions wrought by the Jonathan phenomenon is the acrimony or lack of it within the Bamanga Tukur and Murtala Nyako families in Adamawa State. Tukur, the national chairman of the PDP is in the frontline in the campaign to get the president a second term in office.
Though the preponderance of opinion of stakeholders is that Tukur is the problem with the party, the president it appears is unwilling to let him go upon the fact that the president is unavailable to find someone more loyal to his cause than Tukur in the north.
Nyako on the other hand was one of the governors that split from the PDP and subsequently defected to the APC with their principal focus being to frustrate a second term for the president.
The split on Jonathan between Chairman Tukur and Governor Nyako along the way also led to their sharp differences on the structure of the PDP in Adamawa State. Tukur eventually prevailed in the split despite the near unanimous revolt the National Working Committee, NWC gave to Nyako a year ago on the issue.
Tukur prevailed simply because of the backing he got from the president.
Despite the sharp acrimony between the national chairman and his governor, it is surprising that Tukur’s son, Abati Mahmud Bamanga Tukur remains happily married to Nyako’s daughter, Hadiza Murtala Nyako.
Even more, is the fact that both Tukur and Nyako have a history of intermarriage between them that was crowned with the marriage of Tukur’s son to Nyako’s daughter.
The couple according to familiar sources is said to be living in peace impervious to the cat and dog battle between their fathers.
“When the daughter wants to visit her father, she goes along with her husband and when the son wants to visit his father, he goes along with his wife and they are both living happily in Lagos,” a source familiar with the family said.
For another female minister in the Jonathan cabinet, her appointment into the Jonathan cabinet became a reality after the exit of her husband from a high flying position in the Jonathan cabinet.
Today, husband and wife are said not to be on talking terms following the female minister’s full devotion to Jonathan and his administration, a development that is said to have made the husband to be sulking for the last few years he has been out of his position.
For yet another female minister in the Jonathan cabinet, Hajia Zainab Mana President Jonathan would not be faulted for the division that once characterized the family.
Hajia Mana and her husband at the time of the 2007 general election were sharply split in 2007 when her husband, Alhaji Umar Joji Maina left with elements formerly loyal to Atiku Abubakar to contest the gubernatorial elections of that year on the platform of the Labour Party.
Joji Maina was running mate to Mr. Joel Madaki in that election while his wife, Zainab was a member of the Board of Trustees, BoT of the PDP actively engaged in the campaign for the election of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar‘Adua.
The political split between husband and wife according to sources was a serious stress that may nevertheless have been resolved with time.