By Theophilus Ilevbare
Think of being used and dumped, the case of former adviser on political matters to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, comes to mind. The barrister’s unguarded statements and unruly behavior have turned him to a liability capable of causing collateral damage to the president and his political ambition.
He created unnecessary enemies for his principal. Some staunch loyalists of Mr. President have at some point expressed concern that he might have been a fifth columnist, planted in Jonathan’s government to play a script of unseen hands.
The former Adamawa State House of Assembly Speaker, tried in vain to spin his mortifying dismissal from the presidency as a honourable resignation to pursue a political ambition in his state.
If some of the vile comments credited to Ahmed Gulak were vituperations from Asari Dokubo, one would understand, but not from a political adviser to the President. His opinions on politics are taken as the official position of the president on such issues. That was how weighty his statements were as the president’s mouth piece.
The quest for cheap popularity and vain glory or overzealousness if you want to be nice to him, has become his undoing. What now happens to his chest thumping like a schoolboy, a promise to take a bullet for President Jonathan?
Now that he has shot himself in the foot by consistently talking before thinking, one wonders what will become of his political career as he leaves the presidency.
He will return to face a lot of persons he has hurled insults at and you can be sure they’ll reward him in his own coin, politically.
Apparently, of all his reckless and peevish remarks, the one that stands him out is the position he took on behalf of President Jonathan in the aftermath of Governor Amaechi’s emergence as Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) chairman.
“As far as the President is concerned,” said Gulak, “Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau state is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum and not Governor Amaechi.” Gulak had made a choice for the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, a public disclosure, declaring Gov Jang, the loser of a credible election with only 16 votes, as the winner, while Gov Amaechi, who polled 19, became the loser. Here was the president endorsing illegality by the unguarded remarks of his aide.
As Gulak’s irascible disposition has shown, the baggage Jonathan carries along in some aides like Doyin Okupe, Labaran Maku, Reno Omokri and Reuben Abati, who see every attack on the president as an opportunity to “open fire”, often times, bring the office of the President to disrepute.
Maybe the scales has fallen off the President’s eyes, maybe he felt Gulak has been manipulating him all the while. Mr. Gulak’s job description revolves around polishing the image of the president in matters political but he chose instead to abuse anyone that expresses positive but dissenting opinion.
Some months back, there was this speculative report in newspapers that Obasanjo had dumped Jonathan, and that the former president was equally considering quitting the PDP. Ahmed Gulak, was asked to speak on behalf of his principal who will all know is Obasanjo’s protégé.
He pulled the trigger: “I will like to say with all sense of responsibility that Nigerians should not make God out of Obasanjo. Obasanjo is not God, and it is only God that gives a person power, it is only God that can say Mr. A, you will be president, and it will come to pass. No human being can play God.” One would have expected a more circumspect response since the reports were merely speculative, but not with Gulak.
With such a vacuous comment, he pitched the President with Obasanjo. Agreed, no human being can play God but we were witnesses to how Obasanjo almost singlehandedly ensured Jonathan progressed politically from deputy governor in Bayelsa state to President elect.
“Obasanjo was part of the system from 1976 to 1979, and then from 1999 to 2007. Obasanjo should play the role of a father figure, to advise and not to keep poke-nosing into the affairs of the nation, to choose people who should run and who should not.”
That was Gulak as his bellicose best again, slamming the Ota farmer for purportedly endorsing (according to unsubstantiated newspaper reports, again) Governors Sule Lamido and Rotimi Amaechi as presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively, of the PDP in 2015. Truth is, Obasanjo is part of the leadership crisis in the country today, but such remarks should not come from Jonathan’s aide.
Of Dr Junaid Mohammed, Gulak had said he suffers from “diarrhoea of the mouth,” adding that the man “enjoys sitting in his comfort zone and criticising.” A case of pot calling kettle black.
Still smarting from his heroics of hurling insults, it was time for former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, an opposition politician, to take his share of Gulak’s smear. He described El-Rufai as “the most disappointing young man in the country.”
Not showing any signs of slowing down in the business of gathering enemies for his boss, he took on another role as Special Adviser in Imo as he commented on Gov Rochas Okorocha’s reluctance to comply with a court judgement on the tenure of local government chairmen. He garrulously reacted: “What Okorocha has done is illegal and unconstitutional, and where democracy thrives, these are acts that are impeachable. It is just unfortunate that the members of the Imo State House of Assembly have not taken up the matter.”
In that swagger – reminiscent of talented musicians who just hit the spotlight – of an arrogant and unruly presidential aide, he took a swipe at the National Assembly when a stand-off ensued over Budget 2013. According to him, “you cannot rule out 2015 because what I always say, and I keep on saying is that, people should not use their ambition to jettison national issues.”
He said National Assembly members should be blamed for poor budget implementation through delayed passage of the Appropriation Bill, and even added that the lawmakers had problem with understanding the budget, because a lot of them were illiterates. That Gulak was described as a fifth columnist in Jonathan’s government by a taciturn Senate President, David Mark, was an indication that he hit the members of the Red chamber below the belt.
Another aide of the President would have none of this. Mrs Joy Emodi (though, like Gulak, she has been sacked), Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly, quickly distanced Mr President from the controversial lawyer turned politician: “Let me state categorically that the alleged statements neither reflect the views of the President on the National Assembly, nor the enormous respect he has for the institution. In other words, those to whom the statements were credited were on their own, and never spoke the mind of the president.”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had delivered the Second Zik Annual Lecture Series in Awka, Anambra State, where he stressed that 21st Century Nigeria needed knowledgeable leadership at all levels. He submitted that some parts of the South-East should always send their very best in the mould of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe to the National Assembly (NASS), given the abundance of intellectuals in the states.
Gulak did not waste time in twisting Ekweremadu’s speech: “The Deputy Senate President said some legislators could barely write their names. He said so. Go and read it. He said so, I did not say it. So, if most of them can barely write their names, then how will they understand the intricacies of budget?
I did not say it. It is the Deputy Senate President that said it, and he really said it. So it means the National Assembly has a long way to go.” Gulak in his disingenuity, spinned Ekweremadu’s comment as all NASS members from around the country are illiterates.
Ekweremadu’s aide in a swift reply released a statement that summarised Gulak’s tenure as political adviser to President Jonathan; Gulak is “either oblivious of his job schedule or lacking the competence to undertake it.”
Ilevbare is a public affairs commentator. Engage him on twitter, @tilevbare. He blogs at http://ilevbare.com.