Friday, 28 April 2017

How wife Patience caused former President’s defeat —Mark, Tambuwal, Amaechi, others

Key players in the 2015 elections say the conduct of ex-First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, contributed significantly to the defeat of her husband, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, at the polls.

Former Senate President David Mark; ex governor of Mrs. Jonathan’s home state of Rivers, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; House of Representatives Speaker at the time, Hon.Aminu Tambuwal and Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima all blamed her for allegedly creating enemies for Jonathan.

Alleged acidic political comments by the ex-First Lady in the run up to the elections are cited as part of the misconducts that caused resentment against Jonathan.

Her mismanagement of the abduction of Chibok girls is also believed to have cost the ex-President a major electoral loss in Borno in particular and the North-East in general.

Also, Dame Patience Jonathan’s persistent insults on Buhari, the North, others cost Jonathan second term ticket.

The 2012 Wikileaks report indicated that the ex-First Lady has “a more forceful personality than him and that he has little or no control over her.”

These were the highlights of some of the key players in the 2015 general elections.

The affected leaders include a former President of the Senate, Sen. David Mark, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, ex-Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima and ex-Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu

Their revelations are contained in a new book, “Against The Run of Play” written by the Chairman of THISDAY Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi.

The book was launched in Lagos yesterday.

Tambuwal, who is now the governor of Sokoto State, said Patience created a crisis of confidence between him and Jonathan which forced his defection from PDP to APC.

He said he was at the wheel, driving himself to a friend’s house on an April night in 2012 when his mobile phone rang. He said although the woman at the other end of the line from the caller ID was very well known to him, the caller had handed her mobile handset to another female who was the ex-First Lady.

The ex-First Lady wasted no time in tongue-lashing Tambuwal.

She said: “You this Hausa boy, you want to bring down the government of my husband; you want to disgrace him out of power? Una no fit! God no go allow you.”

For about five minutes, Mrs. Jonathan allegedly railed against Tambuwal, who was accused of harbouring a sinister agenda against the Federal Government and the President.

Asked whether he said anything in reply while the vituperation lasted, Tambuwal said, “What do you want me to say to the wife of the President? I just kept quiet and allowed her to vent her anger on me. After a while, she paused, and I asked, ‘Are you done, Ma? Thank you very much’ – and I dropped the call.”

Although Mrs. Jonathan had called in respect of a resolution by the House of Representatives to probe the fuel subsidy scam, her resentment against Tambuwal appeared more personal.

By some accounts, Tambuwal wanted to work with the President, and went as far as approaching the Senate President to be his guarantor in the early days, a role Mark was happy to play.

“I took him and Emeka (Ihedioha) to the President for a meeting where they gave assurances that they would cooperate and work with the government. But there was always a concern from the Jonathan camp that Tambuwal was an ambitious politician,” Mark added.

Mark said the First Lady kept alleging that Tambuwal had presidential aspirations and for that reason, could not be relied upon to support her husband.

The former Senate President shared his own insight on the First Lady’s suspicion.

He added: “I guess she had the same fear about me even when she never said it to my face. She once accosted Senator Joy Emordi to say, ‘Joy, I hear you are the manager of David Mark Presidential Campaign Organization’, which was a baseless accusation.

“I had to meet the President to clarify issues with him. So, I would say it was President Jonathan and his wife who radicalised Tambuwal and turned him into a political foe.”

Mark said although he raised the alarm about the imminent defeat of Jonathan, his voice was drowned by sycophants around Jonathan.

“I saw it and at different times, I pointed out to him and the party that the projections being made by some people around the president about what the voting pattern in the north would be were wrong,” Mr. Mark said.

“I could see the conspiracy and the gang-up building up in the north against the aspiration of Jonathan but my voice was drowned out by those who took it for granted that a sitting president, and one from PDP, could not lose.

“Some people were deceiving the president with the kind of false scenarios they were painting for him.

“The VP could see the conspiracy but I don’t know how much influence he had on the campaign. Why Jonathan couldn’t see it until it was too late is what I find difficult to understand.”

Amaechi speaking on his strained relationship with Jonathan and Patience said: “I am happy President Jonathan told you about my problem with his wife but he apparently did not tell you the whole story. The question you should ask yourself is, why should a Governor have problem with the wife of the President?

“The simple answer is that I could not surrender my mandate to a woman in Abuja, even if such a person was wife of the President. Also, I could not possibly grant questionable demands that would make me betray my oath of office. I won’t say more than that for now since I am also writing my memoir, but that basically was my sin with Dame Patience Jonathan.”

The problem between Amaechi and the presidency was triggered by the conduct of Dame Patience Jonathan during a two-day visit to Rivers State on 9th August 2010 when the ex-First Lady engaged the sitting governor in open altercation in Okrika, her home town.

While Amaechi was explaining plans to demolish some structures in Okrika Dame Patience Jonathan snatched the microphone from him and shouted, “Listen, you must listen to me!”

“I want you to get me clear: I am from Okrika, I know the problems of my people. So, I know what I am talking (about). I do not want us to go into crisis.

“ We are preaching peace and we must maintain peace at any time. But what I am telling you is that you always say you must demolish. That word ‘must’ you use is not good. It is by pleading. You appeal to the owners of the compound because they will not go into exile. Land is a serious issue.”

By the time she was done, the First Lady had whipped up sentiment within the community against Amaechi’s plan.

The author said: “From that day, the battle-line was drawn between the two. Mrs. Jonathan had made it clear that she would not tolerate a governor from her state who would not bow. And it was not in Amaechi’s nature to be easily muzzled.

“Compounding the problem was the loss by Rivers State of 46 oil wells to Abia State and the ceding of five oil wells in Soku to Bayelsa State. Amaechi believed his state was being punished for his political stance, most of which arose as a result of his chairmanship of the NGF. He took the battle public and raised the stakes.”

“At every opportunity, Amaechi spoke about the way the presidency was working against the interest of the people of Rivers State, all because of a personal disagreement with him.

Amaechi said: “46 oil wells belonging to Rivers State have just been given to Abia State. Soku is a Kalabari town in Rivers State. 71 oil wells in Abonnema (headquarters of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State) would have been given to Bayelsa State on the same Monday the Kalabari people went to Abuja to protest.”

He added that, “There is rumour that they are emasculating me because of 2015. It is unfortunate. For now, I have no plan for 2015. If they are taking Rivers oil wells because of 2015, they should leave us alone.”

Amaechi also said he had issues with Jonathan on Independent Power Projects(IPPs), the oil wells in Soku, and the management of Federation Account.

Amaechi related that in a private session he had with Jonathan on the need for states to manage their Independent Power Projects(IPPs) the President not only reassured that the request by Rivers State would be granted, he asked the governor to write to Abuja on the issue and the letter was sent.

He said: “At that period, I had no problem with Jonathan as I was fully behind his aspiration to be president; the impression created was that he would treat my request after the 2011 election. But the moment he won the election, he wrote to turn down my request. That was bad faith.

“It was as if I was talking to the Governor of Bayelsa State rather than the President of Nigeria. He made it clear to me that protecting whatever he considered to be in the interest of Bayelsa was more important to him than doing the right thing for all the states in Nigeria, including Rivers where he spent most of his life. At that point, I knew there was no way we could work together.”

“If in one year, you took about N300 billion from the federation account to pay for subsidy and the next year, you are taking almost two trillion naira for the same thing when the fundamentals had not changed, then serious questions should be asked. And as NGF Chairman, it was my responsibility to ask those questions and Jonathan took it personal.”

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