Barely two weeks before the end of President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure, aides and heads of agencies in his administration, have intensified lobbying to ensure that they retain their jobs.
This is just as some of his close friends have also been fraternising with those in the inner circles of the President-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari to be appointed when he takes up the reins.
Investigations confirm Jonathan’s lamentation recently that he had been deserted by his friends since he lost his second term bid in the March 28 presidential election. Jonathan had at a thanksgiving and farewell service in his honour at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp, Gwarinpa, Abuja, said his decision to concede defeat at the election did not go down well with some of his ministers and aides but added that he expected more of his friends to leave him and that he was ready to pay the price for his refusal to interfere with the electoral process.
Top among the lobbyists are people from the president’s region, the Niger-Delta, many of whom investigations revealed, have been on a spending spree, dishing out millions to those who have assured them that a case would be made for them to retain their jobs.
A source familiar with the development revealed that senior management of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), some of who heavily funded the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaigns in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states where they hail from, are among those who have been working assiduously to ensure that they retain their positions, as well as the special adviser to president Jonathan on Niger-Delta, Kingsley Kuku.
Spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while reacting to the development in a telephone chat yesterday, said though he was not aware of the development, it would amount to nought.
He said those engaged in such covert moves were only wasting their time and money as their lobbying would be of no import when the party would consider those to be appointed into various positions.
Head of corporate affairs of the NDDC, Ibitoye Abosade, however declined comment when he was contacted by our correspondent on the involvement of the NDDC top echelon in the lobbying attempts.
According to him, “this is weekend; it is private to me and during weekends, I don’t comment on official matters. Please, call me on Monday.”
Jonathan appointed the NDDC executive in 2013 December for a tenure of four years but the president has the power to terminate the management/board.
It was gathered that, for two weeks, three senior management staff of the NDDC, the managing-director, Barr Bassey Dan-Abia, Executive Director, finance and administration, Dr Henry Ogiri and executive director, projects, Engr Omatsuli Tuoyo, had been camped at a popular five star hotel in Maitama, Abuja, from where they were spending heavily to lobby top APC leaders in order for them to serve out their tenure.
The trio it was gathered had reached out to a young but high ranking official of the APC who is also from the Niger-Delta region, who was serving as the link between them and the party hierarchy and huge sums of money, had so far been spent on the lobbying spree.
The source however said a governor of one of the states in the region was vehemently opposed to the NDDC management team remaining in office after Buhari takes over, following the role one of them played in the Rivers governorship election, especially being a key figure behind the Rivers governor-elect, Nyesom Wike.
For Kuku, our source said his pre-occupation has been to remain as chairman of the Amnesty Programme, even though he had denied earlier allegations that he supported the APC presidential campaign financially.
Kuku who is a close ally of President Jonathan and who reportedly facilitated a meeting of ex-militants in Bayelsa state where they resolved to go to war if Jonathan was not re-elected as president, is now relying on his renewed links with the former governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Timipre Sylva and former secretary to the government of the federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed to reach out to the president-elect in order to retain his job.
Before the elections, Kuku while speaking as guest speaker at the annual lecture of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ondo State chapter, challenged Buhari not to evade debates as he had done in previous elections and that Buhari’s claims of the knowledge of how to fix the economy were not based on any realistic idea but on wishful thinking.
Shortly after the election, following allegations, Kuku in an interview with reporters denied contributing funds to the APC presidential campaign and challenged those circulating the falsehood to show proof that he contributed money to the APC, adding that that he could not have given money to APC considering how deeply involved he was with his party, the PDP “and our dear leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, during all elections.”
Similarly, after the presidential election, following calls on some Nigerians and groups on the president-elect, to scrap the amnesty programme, Kuku had said he would rather resign as head of the programme and leave with Jonathan than work with Buhari.
Head of Media and Communication in the Presidential Amnesty Office, Dan Alabrah, had in a statement at the time, quoted Kuku as saying that he would be returning to his village in Ondo rather than serving under the new government.
“The chairman wishes to disappoint the plotters as he is not interested in continuing in that office, more so as his boss, President Jonathan, is leaving office on May 29, 2015. As the President is returning to Otuoke in Bayelsa State, Kuku is also going back to Arogbo, his Ijaw community in Ondo State,” the statement read in part.
He was later to recant in another statement by Alabrah, saying his earlier statement does not translate to him rejecting a call to national service under a new administration as being insinuated, saying he was ready to work with Buhari and to serve the country in whatever capacity he is deemed fit whenever he is called upon.
He recanted his earlier position the same day a Niger-Delta group, The Buckingham Palace of which he is grand patron, called on the president-elect to retain him (Kuku) as the Amnesty boss but this always been countered by other Niger-Delta youth leaders, especially Chiefs Ayiri Emami and Michael Johnny.
A villa source said Jonathan was aware of the clandestine move by his once trusted ally.
“The unfortunate thing about politics is that the man you trusted so much is the most untruthful; can you imagine that Kuku of all people is the man lobbying to remain as Amnesty chairman after all the atrocities in that programme; after how he threatened us with all kinds of things that the ex-militants would go to war if Jonathan lost.
“I can tell you today that the man is one of the men whose lobby has attracted attention in the APC; he has reached out to so many leaders, saying all sorts of things that without him, the peace in the Niger-Delta would relapse and crisis will come again.
“we know how he has generated series of controversies around himself just to attract attention and pity from among us but we know his antics; such persons are dangerous and should be dealt with in a most careful and discreet manner; no one can trust him, there are other eminently qualified Niger Delta youths who understand the APC’s ideology that can run the Amnesty programme, not Kuku again.
“For the NDDC trio, it is no longer news as we are all watching because the money being thrown around by these men cannot sway those with good conscience; they know they cannot even reach the president-elect to tell him these but people are just getting their money, deceiving them that they are lobbying APC leaders on their behalf.
“Is it not ridiculous that for almost two weeks, the three NDDC directors have not gone to Port Harcourt? They are spending the people’s money to lobby their retention in office but they will be exposed,” the source said.