Being a man of power is surely magnetic enough; adding dashing look is a killer. This is the only reading we can make of the revelation in a new book by ace journalist and spokesman of APC, Bolaji Abdullahi, entitled, On a Platter of Gold - How Jonathan Won and Lost Nigeria.
In the book, one-time almighty Aviation minister, Stella Oduah, was quoted as revealing that her counterpart in the oil ministry, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was actually the one who pressured then President Goodluck Jonathan into firing her over the N250m bulletproof BMW (Be My Wife!) cars scandal.
According to her, Diezani, who is currently buffeted by sundry allegations of stealing running into billions of dollars, believed that the story of her own ‘little’ N10bn scandal involving the chartering of private jets was leaked to the press by the Aviation minister.
So, in revenge, Diezani, according to Stella, decided to exploit her very ‘special relationship’ with the president to force her out of her perch in the Aviation ministry. In fact, she further claimed that the oil minister spent money steadily to ensure the story never left the media radar until Jonathan gave her soft-landing in 2014 by adding her name to the list of top officials ‘being released’ by Aso Rock to pursue their political ambitions ahead of the 2015 general elections.
But Senator Oduah's story could only surprise those deaf and blind to political happenings in Abuja while Jonathan was in charge. It was an open secret that beside Diezani and Stella, three other women were very influential then - namely First Lady Patience, the president's aged mother and ‘coordinating minister’ Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
While the latter group could be understood on account of either family or official reasons, the case of Diezani and Stella became the staple of salacious speculations and rumour.
Matters were, of course, not helped by Jonathan's athletic build and charming smiles, to the extent that some busybodies began to circulate the stories that the bitter rivalry between Diezani and twice-divorced Stella was fuelled by their jostling for his attention. Some even went as far as saying that the oil princess was in the habit of always wanting to spend hours with the president in his office, to show to her ‘competitor’ that her own relationship with the commander-in-chief was ‘very, very special’ indeed.
Well, we don't have evidence to back such treasonable insinuations.
But if we had, had Abdullahi's chance of interviewing Stella, we would have been entirely satisfied if the ageless beauty from Anambra answered only one question: dispel once and for all the lingering allegation that she probably was in some form of amorous relationship with the president. Or better still, did she have any crush for him? Or, did she have any cause to believe Diezani did either of the two?
You can be sure Mama Peace, the outspoken Patience Jonathan, did not send us this naughty errand.
Okowa and Ibori's parable
When Macaulay Ovuozuorie threw the gates of his country home in Isokoland open recently to host a reception in honour of James Ibori, not a few eyebrows were raised. Given the political misfortune the one-time Delta State governor had suffered particularly his stint in British jail following conviction for corruption, many considered Ovuozuorie's gesture really bold, and a sign of unstinting loyalty to a political benefactor of old.
For since Ibori returned last year, many of the fair-weather friends who used to flock around while the going was good have understandably kept a distance, at least publicly. But not Ovuozuorie, believed to have become the secretary to Delta State government under Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan through the blessing of the ‘Sheikh’ (as flamboyant Ibori was sometime called as governor of Delta between 1999 and 2007).
And what a colorful event it turned out be, as the high and mighty in Delta politics turned up. Of course, it was tributes galore as former beneficiaries tried to outdo one another in praise of the recent graduate of Britain's ‘University of Life’.
But a comment by Ibori by way of response at the end of the rain of eulogies left tongues wagging. While addressing himself as ‘a statesman’ now, the former ‘Sheikh’ said he was now committed to politics of progress in his home state, irrespective of party affiliations. So, come 2019, he urged people to vote candidates only based on their individual merit, their own potential to deliver and not necessarily based on the political platforms.
Given that the incumbent, Ifeanyi Okowa, was present at the occasion and is believed to be eyeing a second term on PDP platform, that statement was easily interpreted as Ibori saying that, as far as he was concerned, the race was still open and, therefore, a subtle vote of no confidence on Okowa, thus lending credence to the whispers around the state with the fabled ‘Big Heart’ that all is not well within the local PDP family.
Intriguingly, the incumbent happens to be one of the political children Ibori sired as governor.
The times ahead will be interesting indeed.
Double loss for failed godfather
The recent election to pick Gomina may have been won and lost in the province by the River Niger, but wailings and gnashing of teeth over the outcome will certainly linger for a long time.
For our trader friend-turned-emergency-godfather, the pain of loss certainly runs deep. In the build-up to the polls, our friend virtually shed his easy mien and donned the toga of political storm-trooper, all with a view to teaching the psychedelic incumbent a lesson for ‘biting the finger that fed him’.
Recall that our friend had literally imposed the incumbent when his reign was coming to an end years back. Somehow, he fell out with his godson so much that they began to trade insults publicly. Of course, at the root of the wahala was ‘ego’ (Igbo for money).
The incumbent claimed our soft-spoken friend got angry with him over his refusal to reimburse the billions of cowries he claimed to have lavished on his coronation back in the day, an allegation the latter stoutly denied.
The truth of the matter, we gathered, is that there was indeed a demand. But since the godson decided to make what was supposed to be a confidential matter public, our friend decided to do what was politically sensible in the circumstance: deny vigorously.
But when things began to heat up and the incumbent Gomina started having feelings of insecurity arising from fear of possible loss, we reliably gathered that he reached out secretly to our trader friend through the chief priest of the temple they both attended. Hefty sum of 3.5bn cowries was actually put on the table as first instalment to buy his support and bury the hatchet.
But ever full of pride, our friend reportedly rejected the offer, labelling it a ‘bribe since he had the temerity to publicly say I demanded refund and that it is untrue that I spent my personal funds’ on his coronation.
Of course, his calculation was that the incumbent would lose and if his new-found white-bearded godson won, it would enhance his chances of emerging as second-calabash to the flag-bearer under the umbrella party.
Alas, he lost on both fronts. What a pity!
... Ticket for sale @ 500m cowries
Still on the just-concluded election in the province by River Niger, it is no longer news that the ruling party at the centre lost the election by a wide margin despite the flexing of the fabled federal might and elaborate road show involving no less a person than Oga Patapata himself.
What you are yet to be told is the slimy buying and selling within the ruling party that led to that poor electoral showing. Some of the party's heavyweights, we gathered, actually worked against their own party in protest of alleged wrongs they suffered.
A good example is the fine-boy player who wanted to return to the White House by the River Niger. Still can't recognize him? He is currently a member of senior chamber of the federal talk-talk house and once suffered the misfortune of having his stint in the White House cut short over a decade ago.
What happened? Remember the diminutive guy our friend once assisted into the White House but who later breached their ‘gentleman's agreement’ on the sharing formula of the state’s allocation? That is, the one who made history by being the first sitting Gomina to be abducted by agents of his estranged godfather and later rescued miraculously. Of course, he is now in charge of all Labourers under the reigning Sheriff.
Being the most senior, he naturally has been the local party leader in the province by the River Niger. So, when our fine-boy friend decided to dump the umbrella and carry the broom, he left no one in doubt that his sole target was the ticket to the White House. Of course, cash has never been his problem. We have it on a good authority that he shelled out 500m cowries demanded by the diminutive guy as the price for the ticket.
Of course, our friend willingly paid.
But, at the end, the head of the Labourers showed that what he lacks in physical size, he more than makes up for in ‘jibiti’ or street smartness, if you like. The ticket was instead awarded to a lowly-rated contender.
Embittered by that outcome, our fine-boy friend simply bided his time and on Election Day pulled his weight against the party's candidate.
Party baron's old skeleton
Despite the public make-believe, those who know never tire to tell us that the relationship between Oga Patapata at the rocky Villa and the small Oga of the platform he rode to the throne is, at best, testy. Recall that for so long, the talk has been circulating that the latter would be offloaded from his perch and maybe given a plum assignment as soft-landing.
But somehow, each time the speculation became rife, our friend has managed to bounce back, to the extent that some busybodies are beginning to insinuate that maybe he is employing some ‘native insurance’ (voodoo) prepared by hard-boiled shamans for which his native province is reputed. Well, since we lay no claims to metaphysics, we are not in a position to prove or disprove that.
The source of crisis of confidence between the Sheriff and his party baron actually dates back to when the former was still languishing in political wilderness. Recall that, at some point, the duo found themselves in the same political tabernacle. It happened that while Sheriff was labouring hard to win the big crown, the small Oga, once a Gomina of a province during the ‘wuru wuru’ transition programme instituted by the Maradona of Minna, was asked to go and conduct a shadow election in one of the Arewa states. But a smooth player who likes ‘chopping and cleaning mouth as if nothing happened’, our friend was said to have sold to the highest bidder.
On return to the Sheriff who was the leader of the political tabernacle then (being its standard-bearer in the national election), our friend swore that the exercise went well and that everyone was happy at the ‘very transparent process’ and the outcome. Unknown to him, the loser in the contest happened to be the Sheriff's own anointed and intelligence had been passed to him about how ‘Kolanut’ changed hands to arrive at the fake results.
Since the ugly incident, Oga Patapata has come to the conclusion that the small Oga cannot be trusted when it is a matter of ‘Kolanut’. Left to him, another person would have been made the head of the platform before the last election. But he had to concede to the pressure of some powerful interests within who insisted our friend was the best man for the job then.
Oga Patapata, we gathered, continues to tolerate him for now since he has been amenable to series of dirty jobs assigned him thus far. ‘Once he outlives his usefulness, he would be kicked out,’ said our source.