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    2011 ELECTIONS: OBJ DUMPS JONATHAN FOR IBB

    IBB
    OBJ
    GOODLUCK JONATHAN
    As the nation gravitates towards the much-hyped 2011 transitional elections, different political permutations, alignments and re-alignments have continued to tug at the heartstrings of the main gladiators and their influential supporters, giving a possible indication of what the political destiny of the country might be in the coming period.
    Based on reported developing calculations among the higher ups within the political establishment, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, a supposedly dyed-in-the-wool supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan, who given some yet-to-be-ascertained odds against his political godson (Jonathan) might reluctantly opt to support former military president Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB).
    Exponents of this political theory within the camp of President Jonathan, as First Weekly gathered, are alleging that former president Obasanjo would rather cling to the loop where it is weakest and safe for the preservation of his continual relevance and interests than surrender his stakes to a foggy 2011 Jonathan presidency.
    Following the high-powered political arrangements that eventually saw the emergence of former president Obasanjo in 1999 as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and, by extension, the established political powerhouse which reflected an apparent civilian/military order at the time, the true face of Obasanjo's 'last card' might literarily not be a 'king', but a favour to be returned to the gap-toothed Minna-born IBB, who more than anyone else rescued him from late Sanni Abacha's gulag to become president.
    Although, President Jonathan has since settled in as the captain of Nigeria's ship of state, but casting his faith and hope on many of the incumbent governors as rudders to navigate his way to the presidency in 2011 might be a fatal expedition for him. Bearing cognizance of the current stormy political waters, loyalty and alignments among the PDP governors have been divided among the main contenders, namely President Jonathan, IBB, Abubakar Atiku, Governor Bukola Saraki and Mallam Ibrahim Shakarau of Kwara and Kano States, but to mention a few. Nevertheless, the hurdles and slippery Banana peels apparently strewn on the path of embattled Abubakar Atiku against his re-admission into the Adamawa chapter of the PDP, might seal his fate as a possible presidential material to be used by the party.
    According a privilege source within the national leadership of the PDP, the South West states, except Lagos and Ondo, might be shared between IBB and Jonathan. The source claimed that Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and his Osun State counterpart, Gen. Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Retd.) are two undisguised supporters of IBB. While Gbenga Daniel has severally told whoever cared to listen during the controversial zoning debate that the power-sharing contrivance must stay with the PDP, scratching a little beneath the surface will reveal his deep support for the IBB cause. Little wonder IBB was the guest of honour at Daniel's birthday some months ago in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, where the latter also urged Nigerians to forgive the former military dictator for his inglorious role in the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election believed to have been won by late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.
    As if that was the needed signal, posters of IBB for president soon flooded the ancient Abeokuta metropolis and its environs, with the last straw coming from the younger brother and son of the late Abiola, Alhaji Mubashiru and Deji Abiola, who have at different times declared their support for IBB.
    Oyinlola, it was alleged, owed much to IBB for his rise in the military and subsequent strategic appointments in and outside the shores of Nigeria, particularly during the regime of Babangida, and subsequently as military administrator for Lagos State during the reign of late Gen. Sanni Abacha. Oyinlola, a known staunch believer in military command system and Esprit de corps would even dignify his former boss more and demonstrate his loyalty when, last year, he dragged another IBB protégé, the erstwhile turn-coat Major Saliba Mukoro (Rted), who was believed to be brain behind the botched Gideon Okar coup against IBB regime in 1990 to apologize and reconcile with the 'godfather' IBB.
    Ekiti and Oyo State governors, Segun Oni and Adebayo Alao-Akala who appear desperate to retain their plum jobs, which largely depends on the disposition of the current power status quo directed by Jonathan and Obasanjo may not definitely not rock the boat by queuing behind President Jonathan. Even in spite of Akala's professed support for Jonathan in 2011, he apparently has top-flight business mogul and billionaire influential Muslim leader, Alhaji Arisekola Azeez Alao, who recently donated N45 million to the IBB-for-president-group to kick start and galvanize support for the former military leader, as well as, some rumps in the camp of former strongman of Ibadan politics, late Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu to contend with.
    Also, information available to First Weekly from a closely-guarded intelligence circle has revealed that PDP governors in the south-west are likely to support the position that Jonathan be adopted as the PDP flag bearer at their Saturday, August 28th meeting holding in Ibadan, Oyo State, a reliable source in the Jonathan camp told us in confidence that the president was aware of the deceit amongst them and had demanded detailed intelligence reports on their activities, which he might use against them.
    The south-east political terrain appears a slippery one for Jonathan despite his adoption by a group of leading Igbo leaders at a recent stakeholders meeting and the declaration that the region was not nursing any presidential ambition.
    The latter dissociation of the region's governors and their decision to support any credible candidate for the country's most coveted office was definitely below the mark for a rock-solid loyalty and support base for Jonathan. Within the implied ambiguity over the south-east governors' blanket approval for a Jonathan plunge into the race also lie the fear by the president's camp that the region's supports might eventually go to the highest bidder in terms of patronage and resources. In tandem with the foregoing perception, the essential need to maintain the status quo, which presently cedes the deputy senate president's slot to the region and which might likely not change in 2011, if a northerner emerges president, seems to hold a frightening dagger at the heart of President Jonathan's expected support in the south-west.
    The south-south, the otherwise backbone of President Jonathan is also a quicksand for his aspiration. Jonathan's reported recurring squabbles with the governor of Bayelsa State, his home state, Timiprye Sylva and the perceived opinion that he was behind the travails of former Delta State governor James Ibori, whose cousin
    and protégé, Emmanuel Uduaghan is incumbent governor in the state are a baggage on the president and odd against his securing genuine and undivided support.
    If literary one enemy may be too many in politics, then a favourable slide for IBB in the region, as disclosed to First Weekly by one of his aides recently, is tantamount to a fatal woe for the Jonathan camp.
    However, the North, where the zoning debate was the hottest and with the greatest turn out of weight-pulling presidential aspirants, holds in its hands a strategic bait to be grabbed by the aspirant who probably proves the strongest in clout, intrigues subterfuge and resources.
    With the lop-sidedness of the nation's federal configuration, which is clearly accentuated by the sheer expanse of the north's 19 states over the remaining parts of the federation, the possibility of a likely IBB- favoured presidential ambition in the region coupled with pockets of supports from other regions seems real than a fiction.
    Interestingly, former military president Babangida has an intelligent, highly-respected and equally ambitious Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State to contend with for the region's support.
    Shekarau, who recently declared his intention to contest the 2011 presidential polls on the banner of the All Nigeria's Peoples Party (ANPP), is believed to a crowd-puller, deft politicians and schooled in the deepest traditional northern feudal caste system, hence the suspicion that he may do the spoiler for the Babangidas, Atikus and Sarakis of this world.
    The downside for the governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki is the age-long scorn by the core north that Kwara State, just as the Sarakis are not genuine northerners and can not sincerely trace their genealogy to any verifiable roots in the north. Also, it is believed that aside Kwara, where the Sarakis hold court as political kingmakers, his being chairman of Governors Forum and the Northern Union, a socio-cultural and political group led by his father, Dr. Olusola Saraki, Governor Bukola Saraki simply appears a paper weight in the intriguing contest.
    Also lurking in the shadow is the duo of former military head of state, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (Retd) and former super cop, Nuhu Ribadu, who is touted to be the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Outstanding and bearing enormous clouts within the political space and the northern region, Buhari and Ribadu are two dark horses, who if unlocked from their stables might do further change the character and texture to the current political permutation.
    In the national assembly, the political chess game is equally given a free reign between the Jonathan and Babangida camps. The alleged intention of Senate President David Mark, a known protégé of IBB in and outside the military to retain his seat in 2011 is a clear wedge against any support for Jonathan in either Benue State, where Mark hails from, or among his (Mark) supporters in the National Assembly.
    Ditto for the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole, who, if he supports a northern candidate, means that the speakership slot would be reserved for the south-west, which he is personally bent on retaining should he be returned to the House in 2011.
    Another eye-opening scenario which suggested a deepening of the IBB support base in the national assembly was the recent resolution passed by the House of Representatives to immortalize late Maryam Babangida, IBB's deceased wife, for her role to the development of women at the grassroots through her Better Life for Rural Women project during IBB reign. The number of lawmakers who stood up to support the motion was surprisingly overwhelming and can not be divorced from the prevalent politics hovering over the country's horizon.
    First Weekly learnt that the incident did jolt the Jonathan camp to the reality of a fast-spreading cancerous IBB influence. In addition, this magazine was also told that the newly amended electoral laws which only guarantee delegates from wards to the party's primaries and preclude such hordes of supporters such as ministers, special advisers and assistants is giving the Jonathan's camp a cause for worry. Not losing sight of the caliber of personalities behind IBB's campaign, one may not need to play an oracle to say that should Jonathan's expected support base continue to grow thin and decimated, the chain might then just break at its weakest link for the president.
    This group of IBB campaigners, some of which are chairman of Daar Group, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, (who is the head of the campaign organization), high-ranking and respected senator Kanti Bello, former chairman of the National orientation Agency, Ibn Farook, Chief Sam Oyovbaire, former minister for Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu; Chief (Mrs.) Remi Adiukwu-Bakare ( Director, Women
    Affairs), Alhaji Shehu Musa Gabam, (Director, Contact & Mobilisation); Hon Musa Elayo, (Director, Legal Service) and Alhaji Farouk Bibi- Farouk, Director, Youth Affairs, etc.
    At the moment, our source claimed that former president Obasanjo was presently in a quandary over how the unfolding drama might eventually play out.
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