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Against the Run of Play: How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria

A brief review of Against the Run of Play How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria by Olusegun Adeniyi
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Author: Olusegun Adeniyi

Publisher: Kachifo limited

Category: Non-fiction

Publication Year: 2017

Pages: 221

Against the Run of Play is a page-turner political exposé. It reveals, in print, detailed happenings in the Nigerian political scene during the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The book exposes in details how political decisions are made in the country, particularly during Goodluck Jonathan regime—giving insights to clandestine meetings where the original political decisions are made, apart from the scripts they usually play before the camera for the masses.

For anyone who is keen on having insights into the Nigerian political arena, Against the Run of Play is a great reference.

It covers how the former president got elected in 2011 against all odds (after completing the Umaru Yar’Adua mandate), his achievements/faults, the significant roles his wife (Patience Jonathan) played, and his eventual defeat in the  2015 general elections cum the downfall of the PDP, the  erstwhile acclaimed largest party in Africa.

The book has twelve (12) chapters in all and ends with a postscript. Chapter 1, titled ‘2011 and the Hard Bargain’, deals with the death of President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, the drama on transferring presidential power to the then vice-president (Goodluck Jonathan) and the ensuing constitutional crises of whether or not Jonathan has right to contest for the presidency in 2011 after being sworn in twice.

Chapter 2 with the title, The Seeds of Rebellion, covers the first crack of the PDP breakdown; the crises within/between the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the presidency.

Chapter 3, The Road to Opposition Merger, focuses on the coming together of different political parties – CPC, ACN, ANPP, APGA, and DPN to form the major opposition party that would eventually chase the ruling party out.

Chapter 4, Revolt of the PDP Governors, reveals the internal political differences that would later see some major PDP members (especially the governors) leading the party.

Chapter 5, The Perception of Corruption, highlights the series of corrupt allegations leveled against some government officials and the perceived indifference of the president to corruption cases.

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Of Boko Haram and Chibok Girls, Chapter 6, deals with the unfortunate kidnap of more than 200 Chibok school girls and the apparent hesitancy of Jonathan’s government to promptly act on it.

Chapter 7, The Intrigues within APC, deals with the political intrigues surrounding the emergence of the APC’s (the new major opposition party) presidential candidate for the 2015 general elections –the first crack in the new party.

The Obasanjo Revolt, Chapter 8, focuses on how the relationship between former presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan become severed leading to Obasanjo’ s dramatic exit from the PDP.

Chapter 9, A litany of unforced Errors, chronicles the web of errors that would team up to finally destroy the credibility and competence of Goodluck Jonathan Presidency.

Chapter 10, Election Postponed, discussed the postponement of the 2015 general elections from February to March and the issues surrounding it.

The penultimate chapter, The Ballot and the Day After, discusses the elections in details and some drama that attended it.

A Web of Conspiracies, the last chapter, explains series of perceived conspiratorial moves against Jonathan and how he fell out of favour with foreign powers, particularly the United States.

The postscript concludes the book with, mainly, the author’s opinion about the personality of Jonathan, his strengths and weaknesses, and his rise to power and ultimate defeat.

Against the Run of Play is a detailed political narrative and provides an engaging, not-commonly-found-in-print insight into the Nigerian political arena, focusing on the numerous dynamic forces that led up to the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

Below are some insightful extracts from the book:

The notion of North and South in Nigeria’s political equation was never really tested until then. The problem was further compounded by the fact that Jonathan did not fit into tripartite nature of that strategic calculation. Being neither Yoruba nor Igbo nor Hausa/Fulani, the emergence of a minority president was in itself against the standard run of play. (Page 25)

By Yayale’s account, Obasanjo had, in the course of a discussion on the power equation in Nigeria, stated that in case he was not alive when the turn of the North ended and power came to the South; his hope was that someone from the South-South would become president. That, in Obasanjo’s view, would settle the question of the minority in Nigeria. (Page 26)

On the line this time was an unmistakable voice. “You this Hausa boy,” Dame Patience Jonathan began, “you want to bring down the government of my husband; you want to disgrace him out of power? Una no fit! God no go allow you.” For about five minutes, Mrs Jonathan railed against Tambuwal, who was accused of harbouring a sinister agenda against the Federal Government and the President. (Page 43)

The problem between Amaechi and the presidency started in an innocuous manner. In the course of a two-day visit to Rivers State on 9th August 2010, the President’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, engaged Amaechi in an open altercation in Okrika, her hometown. The governor was explaining why there would be some demolitions in the town to make way for new schools proposed by the Rivers State government when Dame Patience Jonathan snatched the microphone from him and shouted, “Listen, you must listen to me!” (Page 84)

Fielding questions during his third Presidential Media Chat broadcast live on national television on 24th June 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan gave ammunition to the whispers of his opponents that he was comfortable with corruption. Asked why he was yet to declare his assets publicly, Jonathan dismissed the question, arguing that it was a matter of principle. “It is not the President declaring his asset that will end Boko Haram and whether I am criticized from head to toe I will not declare my assets publicly. It is not right; I didn’t even want to declare my assets as VP but was forced by the then President (Umaru Musa Yar’Adua). (Page 94)

Jonathan’s reaction to the suggestion that the insurgents were better armed was swift and sharp. He threatened to pull the army out of Borno State for one month, if only to teach Shettima a lesson. “The statement from the Governor of Borno State is unfortunate. If he thinks the Nigerian army is helpless, I will pull them out for one month and we will know whether he can still stay in government house or not”, said Jonathan. (Page 113)

It was Fani-Kayode, then a member of the party, who first sent a warning shot, saying, “The biggest mistake that the APC can make is to field a Muslim/Muslim ticket for the 2015 presidential elections. Such a mistake would spell the death-knell of the party and would provide the platform for a sure victory for Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP. We must endeavour never to make such a mistake.” (Page 140)

Cutting to the chase, Obasanjo said Jonathan told him before the 2011 election that he would not seek a second-term, and made the same promise to governors, party stakeholders and Nigerians. Arguing that it would be “morally flawed” for Jonathan to contest in 2015. (Page 151)

Some people within the PDP, according to Mark, tried to point the attention of Jonathan to the implication of having the presidential election joined with that of the National Assembly, “but the President obviously had his advisers who felt they knew everything. If he was not complacent and had fought the election as vigorously as he did in 2011, Jonathan would have understood that there was a strong clamour for change, and I would say, just for its sake. PDP had been in power for 16 years and Nigerians were tired of the same party.” (Page 171)

The outcome of the 2015 presidential election was predictable, because many Nigerians had resolved to vote, not necessarily for the opposition but rather against the incumbent President. So, in a way, a huge chunk of the votes that brought Buhari to power were a punishment to his predecessor for squandering the enormous goodwill that swept him into power. Interestingly, the failings of the past seem to be repeating themselves in bigger proportions today. (217)

Against the Run of Play is available on Okada Books and Amazon.

Nurudeen Lawal

Nurudeen Lawal

I work as a Content Editor with a leading publishing company in Nigeria, Literamed Publications Nigeria Limited.View Author posts

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