Dokpesi and the Elastic Conscience

I just read Raymond Dokpesi's interview with news men on his ordeal at the hands off the SSS and I am again appalled at the level of double speak our politicians are capable.

In adducing reasons why he is being allegedly persecuted, Mr. Dokpesi alleges that the Goodluck Jonathan team wanted him to head their campaign; however, there is some reason to doubt this claim. Raymond Dokpesi is from the South South, the same zone as Mr. President. The question then is how plausible would it be that the President would pick someone from the same zone as himself to head his campaign? Does it make sense when conventional wisdom compels Presidential aspirants to not only look outside their geo-politcal zone but beyond the Niger. Thus if a candidate is from the North, conventionally he would pick a campaign DG from the South and vice versa. So the question is would a politician of President Jonathan's pedigree consider a fellow South Southerner as his campaign DG in an election as heavily fraught with zonal issues as 2011? In my humble opinion I think this very unlikely.

The other issue that beggars belief in Dokpesi's interview is the reason he gave for rejecting the headship of the Jonathan campaign and supporting IBB instead. Said he ""It is not a matter of saying, ÔÇśthis is what is good for my people and that the other people can go to hell. We don't care; we will bulldoze our way. I strongly believe that it is right and appropriate that what is due to John should be given to John and what is due to Benson should be given to Benson." Dokpesi then challenged the PDP "to follow the path of honour by sticking to" zoning.

Now on the surface, the above argument does sound altruistic. However let us go down memory lane. In 2006 after Obasanjo's two terms of four years, going by the zoning logic, power was to be zoned to the North. There were many contestants for the PDP ticket chief of which was a man called Peter Odili from the South South who according to Dokpesi would have emerged winner of the ticket had former President Obasanjo not intervened. Now the thing is that Mr Raymond Dokpesi was the campaign manager for Dr. Peter Odili's 2006 presidential campaign organization!

So when did Mr. Dokpesi develop his scruples about sticking to the zoning agreement? Was it before or after he served as Odili's campaign manager in 2011 when Odili was running against a Northerner and the party had zoned the ticket to the North? What happened to Mr Dokpesi's logic that "what is due to John should be given to John and what is due to Benson should be given to Benson" in 2006? Did it take a holiday?

The truth is that Mr Dokpesi like many-oh too many- Nigerian politician has an elastic conscience that expands and contracts according to the needs of the owner.

Could it really be that Dr. Dokpesi would have wanted to serve Dr. Jonathan in the same capacity as he served Dr. Odili but was rejected in his overtures? Personally I think Mr Dokpesi revealed the real reasons why he is not on the Goodluck train when he said that ""AIT, for its efforts at the U-17 World Cup was initially owed N5.7 billion by the federal government, but the figure has risen to N19.7 billion" Mr. Dokpesi further informed journalist that "President Goodluck Jonathan earlier sent text messages as Vice-President, to him pleading with him to bear with the government over the debt as the President, late Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua, was sick and that the debt was delegated to him to pay. But also when Jonathan became President, I was told that he was quoted that the AIT should bear the cost as part of national service".

Well now, we are coming to the crux of the matter. It seems that we are now being told the real reason why Mr. Dokpesi has an ax to grind with the President and it has nothing to do with zoning at all. Mr. Dokpesi really just wants his bills paid (funny though how N5.7 billion could balloon to N19.5 billion without any change in the service rendered) and is willing to help make anybody who would pay the bill President of Nigeria.

Please Nigerians connect the dots. Here is a man who has serious financial challenges and almost lost his media empire but for the intervention of Peter Odili in 2005/6 and who is once again in deep waters financially to the extent that the staff of his media emoire are owed many months' salary in arrears. Is it not trite knowledge that a drowning man would clutch at straws!

Moreover, Mr. Dokpesi and IBB make quite a pair! I was almost struck dumb to read the reasons given by IBB for not attending the 50th Independence anniversary celebration. IBB claimed that "I don't believe in the whole concept. The expenditure was too much. There are more effective ways of celebrating at 50. The large expenditure should have gone into universities". Really! This from a man who wasted $12.2 billion and to quote Okigbo whose "disbursements were clandestinely undertaken while the country was openly reeling with crushing external debt overhead.". I mean if IBB was so in love with Nigerian universities how come he withdrew the subsidy on education which more than anything destroyed Nigerian universities and led directly to brain drain? I mean if Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Buhari who had a reputation as a prudent spender while he held sway as military Head of State could attend, then certainly General Babangida had no reasons not to attend if it was the cost of the ceremony that was the issue. I mean how much did the ceremony cost? I believe it was16 billion Naira. How much has IBB spent chasing his presidential ambition? Yes 16 billion is quite on the high side but if General Babangida could spend billions celebrating himself with his Presidential bid, then I certainly can understand spending billions celebrating 150 million long suffering Nigerians. Besides if Genral Babangida loves our universities so much, perhaps he should have donated the millions he paid to fly in Joe the American R ÔÇśn' B star to sing for his son's bride to any Nigerian university!

It is really pathetic that a man who gave as one of the reasons for annulling the June 12 elections the excuse that the Federal Government owed Chief MKO Abiola millions of dollars would turn around to appoint as his campaign chief a man who also claims that the Federal Government owes him millions of dollars. Going by IBB's logic the government would be justified in annulling his election if he won.

But logic is not what guides men like IBB and his new side kick Raymond Dokpesi. Such people are guided by only one motive-what's in it for me. If you doubt me, then ask them why in the face of the multiple tragedies facing Northern Nigeria, both IBB and his motley crew of desperados have not thought it wise to publicly champion the cause of the millions of people in Northern Nigeria who are affected by the floods in Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi and Jigawa state or the Cholera epidemic in the North or even the lead poisoning in Zamfara. Why would they when there is nothing in it for them?

To Mr. Dokpesi, Nigerians have come very far and no longer have as short a memory as the likes of Mr. Dokpesi would want us to have. If Mr. Dokpesi has forgotten, perhaps it is time to remind him that power was shifted to the South West not because of any zoning logic, but as compensation to the people of the South West for the injustice done to them by the annulment of the June 12 1993 Presidential elections by General Babangida when Chief Abiola was set to be declared winner. When Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar wanted to transition to a civilian democratic administration, he toured the six geo-political zones of the country in 1998 to meet with leaders of thought and opinion moulders and he was told that he risked the South West seceding if something was not done to pacify the zone for the injustice meted out to chief Abiola. He then put heads together with retired and serving military mandarins who came up with the idea of anointing one of their own in the person of General Obasanjo as a way of pacifying the South West while having someone whose chains the North could yank as President. Thus was President Obasanjo anointed President and no sooner had the puppet being sworn in than he came alive and rather than have his chains yanked by the North proceeded to yank the chains of the North as no one before or after him had done. I could go on and on, but suffice to say that power shift to the South West was caused by General Babangida's callous act of 1993 and for him to contemplate coming back in 2011 is not only an affront on Nigerians but amounts to a case of a criminal profiting from his own criminality.

Reno Omokri is the Vice President, Africa, at Joe Trippi and Associates, the DC based Political Consultancy firm.