President Goodluck Jonathan and his inner circle have begun new moves to jettison elections altogether, hoping that members of the National Assembly will agree to postpone polls once again and instead settle for a so-called interim national government, according to information received from several sources, one of them embedded in the Presidency in Abuja.
The sources disclosed that Mr. Jonathan, Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, the chairman of the PDP’s board of trustees, Tony Anenih, Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko and Ijaw political figure, Edwin Clark, were the main players in the new scheme. They are reportedly determined to sell their new plan to a small nucleus of key legislators at the National Assembly to discuss how best to recruit supporters, sources knowledgeable about the astonishing plot revealed.
The team pushing this new idea, one source said, is operating on the premise that it would be “dangerous to hand over power to Muhammadu Buhari.” Ms. Alison-Madueke was reported to be a hawkish pusher of the idea, with one of our sources adding that the Petroleum Minister was extremely anxious about the prospect of a Buhari Presidency exposing her numerous shady deals in the oil sector through which she and a few players selected by her have drained billions of dollars of oil revenues into their private holdings.
Ms. Alison-Madueke has assured the group that some officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as several big-time beneficiaries of oil sector deals, including importers of refined fuel, were committed to the plan and willing to provide slush funds to pay a bribe of $2 million dollars to each senator and $1 million to key members of the House of Representatives to persuade them to endorse the plot to derail elections permanently and install an interim national government. The president is working through officials of the NNPC to fund the massive bribe scheme.
Mr. Jonathan’s henchmen have begun discussions with some members of the National Assembly as the legislative body prepares to resume another legislative session in Abuja next week. It would be the first time the legislature would sit after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced last week that polls, which were scheduled for February 14, 2015, had been postponed for six weeks.
According to those who briefed SaharaReporters on the latest scheme by the Presidency, Mr. Jonathan plans to sell to key legislators the argument that, since Nigeria is at war at the moment, the government would need another six months at least to fight off Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast of Nigeria before elections can take place.
A source close to a former military head of state, Abdulsalam Abubakar, told SaharaReporters that Mr. Jonathan had approached the retired officer and pleaded with him to consider heading an interim national government that would be put in place on May 29, 2015 if Mr. Jonathan’s plan prevails. “General Abubakar promptly declined the offer and immediately informed some ex-heads of state about the offer,” the source disclosed.
Mr. Jonathan and Ms. Madueke have revived the scheme to avoid elections after a sobering meeting the president held last Thursday night with PDP governors and top party figures. The participants at the meeting were candid in conceding that the forthcoming presidential elections would not favor President Jonathan despite its postponement for six weeks.
A source close to former President Olusegun Obasanjo told SaharaReporters that the incumbent president’s machination to thwart elections was the provocation for a recent intensification of verbal warfare between Mr. Jonathan and ex-President Obasanjo. The latter has publicly accused Mr. Jonathan of plotting to stymie election now scheduled for March 28, the same way former President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire caused a political crisis in his country after loosing an election, bringing his country close to a civil war.
The latest plan by Mr. Jonathan, several sources said, is driven by Ms. Alison-Madueke’s desperation. The Petroleum Minister is reportedly worried that she would not be able to avoid prosecution for several questionable deals in the oil sector that have catapulted her and her minions to billionaires. Her fear is reportedly heightened by the fact that she does not see the prospect of being granted asylum in any European or North American nation should she decide to flee abroad if Mr. Jonathan loses.
A source close to Mr. Jonathan revealed that First Lady Patience Jonathan has occasionally fumed and blamed Ms. Alison-Madueke of causing her husband’s popular unpopularity.