Jonathan: Why Govs Fight their Political Godfathers

Former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has for the first time since the official opening of the Bayelsa State Government House at Onopa, Yenagoa, attended an event at the edifice inaugurated by former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, two years ago.

Speaking during a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) event to pick members of the Elders Advisory Council, the former president argued that governors were always afraid of not being allowed a second term by their godfathers.

According to Jonathan, immediately governors are elected, they start building their own teams, independent of their political benefactors, so as to consolidate and guarantee themselves a second term, which usually sets them against their godfathers.

He explained that it was part of the reason immediately he went to Abuja as vice president, he wrote a memo on the idea of an elders’ advisory council which could help douse such unwarranted tensions between governors and those who supported them in their careers.

Jonathan added that part of his reasoning was that the PDP as a party should also be able to establish a minimum benchmark for the return of governors for their second term, to reduce needless acrimony generated in many states.

He said: “When I went to Abuja as Vice President, I sent a memo that most of our problems we have at the state level is because there are a conflicts, but that in most cases, there are no people with authority to resolve the conflicts. So, it is good that we have a mini BoT at the state level.

“I have said that there is bound to be friction between governors and people at the centre, for the simple reason that the governors always feel that the godfather will not like to give them a second term.

“So, immediately they become governors, they start consolidating on their own and push the other people to the receiving end.

“For PDP to survive, we have to reduce this tension. The PDP must have a standard way of assessing our governors. Anybody who has the minimum

requirements should be given the go-ahead so that the governor will

not be afraid that somebody will not give him a second term ticket

which will cause infighting”.

He, however, urged all those present to put the interest of the party

before personal benefits, noting that the next governorship election

in the state should be the main focus of all, because the federal

government will be desperate to take over the state.

Jonathan added: “I was quite pleased when the idea of an elders’

advisory council came up because they are capable of resolving

conflicts. While we are pursuing our interests, let us not forget the

interest of the party.

“For Bayelsa, we really have a lot of challenges because the centre will like to use its federal might. The elections are coming and I know they will like to do whatever it takes to take over, but you look at the calibre of people here and you know the key people in Bayelsa are here with us.

“Other parties can only win if we have a major crack in-house, in which case, one group decides to work against the general interest of the party. But I am sure that is why we have the elders council and I believe collectively, we will be able to do it. So, once the board is inaugurated, they will give us a direction.”

He thanked the governor and the various leaders of the party for the roles they played during the last election, noting that “to see this

number of you shows not just the progress of the party, but that of the state”

The elder statesman praised Governor Dickson for building a befitting edifice as office complex and official residence for the governor and deputy, recalling that former governors of the state including himself, used to reside in bungalows while in office.

He further said: “Let me use this opportunity to appreciate the governor for this office. I am saying this because this is the first time I am entering the office and luckily all of us here are part of this story from 1996 and then, of course, as politicians when we took over in May 1999.

“We are now in a standard office; the governor is also residing in a

standard house, so Bayelsa State is progressing. So, I thank the

governor very sincerely. I always say that if you have the opportunity

to be a head somewhere, president or governor, chairman of council or

any other position, you should be able to add value to the


In his remarks, Dickson said the PDP was poised to retain its control

of the state as the gubernatorial election scheduled for November 16,

2019 draws closer.

Describing Jonathan as “my oga,” Dickson said: “I want to specially

thank Mr. President who has put aside all his activities because of

the importance of this meeting and the issues we will be handling from

now on.

“Things are different now from when we were in power. In 2015, against

all known odds, we defeated the APC. We faced fire in our communities,

our people were harassed.

“They thought they would be able to take Bayelsa by force, not knowing

we are a people of steel. If we were defeated, our landmark

achievements, including the government house where we are sitting

today, would not have been available. Our state is stable and on the

right path,” he said.

The governor called on all gubernatorial aspirants under the platform

of the PDP to avoid attacking one another but to focus attention on

the “subversive” activities of the opposition in the state.

Dickson also called for stronger cohesion within the party, advising

members and aspirants to avoid pursuing their ambitions at the expense

of the party.

“The ambitions are legitimate but we must note that what is important

is our unity and cohesion within the party.” he added.

Inaugurating the 61-member Elders Advisory Council, the state PDP

Chairman, Moses, described the council as a vital organ of the party

similar to the board of trustees, which is recognised by the party’s

constitution in every state chapter.

He said with the calibre of people in the council showed that no other

political party could defeat the PDP and win election in the state as

Governor Dickson had ensured victory for the party at all levels.

AVM Larry Koinyan, (retd), was appointed as the chairman of the

council while Talford Ongolo was selected as the acting secretary.

Other dignitaries present at the occasion were the Deputy Governor of

the state, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd), state chairman of the party,

Moses Cleopas, and other party leaders.