Marriage Made In Hell: How Things Gradually Fell Apart Between Mu’azu and Jonathan

imageTo close watchers of the relationship between President Goodluck Jonathan and Adamu Mu’azu, it was a marriage “made in hell”. It was like the case of a young man who brought his preferred fiancée home, but his parents forced him to marry another girl. And sooner than later, the forced marriage began to crack and crumble.

When the Peoples Democratic Party began to fall apart in 2013 following the rebellion of the party’s governors against Bamanga Tukur, who was then the national chairman, the undertone was the 2015 presidential election. Some northern governors were interested in running and for as long as Tukur, Jonathan’s right-hand man, was party chairman, the presidential ticket would only go one way: to Jonathan. They needed the party machinery to actualise their dream.

Tukur, apparently doing Jonathan’s bidding, began to ostracise many governors — even to the extent of suspending some of them from the party. This saw to the exit of five governors — Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano) from the party. Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa) chose to remain behind, more in hope that Jonathan could still be persuaded to drop his re-election ambition.

Throwing in the towel

To settle the rancour in the party and re-position it for the general election, Tukur was persuaded by Jonathan to quit. It was a particularly difficult task to achieve, as Tukur dragged his foot for days despite reaching an agreement to step down. Eventually, he threw in the towel in January 2014.

And that was the beginning of another problem for Jonathan.

The president wanted Idris Umar, minister of transport, as the new chairman of the party, but the governors from the north-east — where the chairmanship was zoned — were not in support. Senate President David Mark and a few governors from the south implored the president not to go against the wish of the north-east governors.

Their wish was Mu’azu, former governor of Bauchi state.

Other aspirants were former party spokesperson, Ahmed Rufai Alkali; former FCT minister, Ibrahim Bunu; former minister of commerce, Idris Waziri; and former acting national secretary of the party, Musa Babayo.

Experienced choice

Mu’azu was marketed to Jonathan as experienced, urbane and well regarded by the governors – having been one of them from 1999 to 2007. He would easily relate with them, it was argued, and he could even persuade some of the governors who defected to the APC to return.

But Jonathan was not told that Mu’azu himself had always wanted to be president, and had hoped in vain that Obasanjo was going to pick him as successor in 2007, only for the former president to pick Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, then governor of Katsina state.

Mu’azu was a never a friend or associate of Jonathan and he was not about to become one.

PDP governors of the class of 1999-2007 did not have much regard for Jonathan, whom they only saw as their junior, having only served as a deputy governor in Bayelsa state until DSP Alamieyeseigha was impeached in 2005. Bukola Saraki and James Ibori, two former governors, were particularly not impressed with Jonathan and never had much regard for him when he emerged as Yar’Adua’s deputy.

“Mu’azu also never really had any regard for Jonathan, but his desire to be rehabilitated politically, after going on self-exile in 2007, played a key role in his PDP chairmanship bid. He had his eyes more on the presidency,” an associate of Mu’azu told TheCable on Wednesday.

Mutual suspicion

Although Jonathan was persuaded to install Mu’azu as the PDP chairman in January 2014, he had never fully leaned on the former Bauchi governor. It was a relationship built on mutual suspicion, and Mu’azu had also been suspected of not working for Jonathan’s interest all along.

A senior member of the PDP told TheCable that the primary elections nationwide “exposed Mu’azu as someone who did not have any genuine interest in the progress of the party”. There were several allegations against the national chairman by aspirants who accused him of being more interest in “business” than electoral victory.

Things only got worse. During the presidential campaign, the convoy of Jonathan was stoned in Bauchi. Although this was attributed to the rivalry between Isa Yuguda, the governor, and Bala Mohammed, the FCT minister who is also from the state, the signal the president got was that he was going to do poorly not only in Bauchi but in the entire north-east. At the time, the president was still hoping to make up for that potential loss with a good showing in the north-central and some states in the north-west. This never materialised.

Sources said security reports soon threw up a rather alarming revelation: that Mu’azu was actually more disposed to having the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, as president. He was under pressure from several parts of the north to stop working against the ambition of the region to produce the next president. He was getting isolated by prominent northern power brokers and religious leaders for associating with Jonathan. This was going to injure his own future political ambitions.

Personal aspersions

It was further complicated by the pronouncements of the president’s wife, Patience, who at a stage called Buhari “brain-dead” and derided the north as a place where people were having children and throwing them on the streets. Meanwhile, presidential campaign spokesman, Femi Fani-Kayode, was also casting personal aspersions at Buhari and making statements considered offensive by the northern and military establishments.

In March 2015, Mu’azu reportedly told his associates of his desire to resign in view of the pressure he was under and the anti-north image acquired by the PDP through statements made by Jonathan’s wife and Fani-Kayode. He was eventually persuaded not to resign in the middle of an election, but the president was now fully convinced Mu’azu was not committed to the cause.

Jonathan had also been bombarded with complaints by many aspirants who said they were being extorted while promises were not being fulfilled. Billions of naira are believed to have been extorted from the aspirants by top PDP executives even when it was clear they were not going to get the party’s tickets to run in the general election.

The frosty relationship between the president and his party’s chairman got frostier when the presidential election results were being announced and it was glaring that Jonathan was going to lose. Mu’azu, TheCable understands, would have beaten Jonathan in congratulating Buhari if the president had delayed his concession.


Mu’azu has since come out to condemn the PDP “hate campaign” as the reason for the party’s poor performance, but Fani-Kayode has countered him, saying Jonathan would have lost by 10 million votes but for the campaign office’s intervention, describing Mu’azu as a traitor.

“Mu’azu finally made up his mind to resign after Fani-Kayode’s press conference on Tuesday because, clearly, it was a case of Esau’s hand and Jacob’s voice. He knew Fani-Kayode could never have said that if he did not have the backing of the president,” an associate of the former PDP chairman told TheCable on Wednesday.

Ma’azu is currently out of the country on medical grounds, but his forced political marriage to Jonathan has now been dissolved rather than continuing “in sickness and in health”. Certainly, “for better for worse” does not capture the fruitless and unfaithful relationship.

Source: TheCable

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