Why was Suleiman Abba fired? What sin did Abba, the policeman, commit that is worse than the obliteration of a dozen plus three souls executed by his namesake, the sack-proof Minister?
Why Suleiman Abba? The Inspector General of Police who got his men to besiege the National Assembly, teargas opposition members of the House of the Representatives, lock out Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal?
He was the man who pronounced cheekily that his say-so determined who had legitimacy to remain Speaker!
Reuben Abati, Jonathan’s spokesman defended the sack with a predictable line: The President has the powers to hire and fire.
We know that cliché. But we also know that President Jonathan is not big on sacking. We know he shrinks from firing those who are most deserving of dismissal. He would protect and cuddle them, as if he was positively validating their atrocity.
However, we remember that when the luckier Abba orchestrated and supervised the murder of 15 Nigerians in a job scam that should enter the Guinness Book of Records as the most subscribed in the world, President Jonathan didn’t flex his sacking muscle. Jonathan harbored Moro. And he still harbors him one full year after the bloodshed. The murderer is still Minister of Interior, the overseer of very agencies, including the Nigerian Prisons!
So why did President Jonathan fire Suleiman Abba?
Simple answer: Suleiman Abba failed to deliver.
He was an election time IGP. He was hired to twist the men and the services of the Nigerian Police into the scheme to concoct a victory for President Jonathan.
Suleiman Abba knew it. He was under no illusion that he had been tapped to bring crime rate down. He knew he wasn’t the brightest man for the job. He knew deep within him that he was picked because he showed the promise of having the ability to lend the Nigerian Police to a Jonathan’s landslide win.
But what did Abba do few weeks to the election? He launched some code of conduct for his men. The handbook detailed the nice behaviors the policeman was required to exhibit around a poling unit. He was to be civil, polite and alert. He was expected to watch over the integrity of the voting exercise. Not to act in collusion with some desperate politicians to sabotage the process.
Somehow, the men of the police seemed to abide by the rules of that handbook. They did not act as if they were minions of Wadata Plaza. They were not captured on cell phones, running into some bush with ballot boxes. They were not sighted thumbprinting on behalf of voters who did not show up. They behaved decently, as though they synced their election duty with enlightened self interest. They knew that many cycles of aiding and abetting grand vote heists have not improved their lives and livelihood. They acted like they were as hungry for CHANGE as other folks elsewhere. This is one of the reasons why Jonathan lost.
And that is why President Jonathan pushed Suleiman Abba into the sack Lagoon.
I know this looks vindictive. It’s bad optics. Not exactly an act that should emanate from a gentleman who used a one minute telephone call to his rival to graciously concede defeat and secure for himself statesmanship, even charming admirers to imagine him a contender for the Nobel Prize for Peace. But there is a part of every human that has an appetite for revenge.
When President Jonathan bypassed other higher ranked officers to appoint Abba, it was done in the understanding that a sense of gratitude would obligate the lucky chap to pay back. Both Jonathan and Abba knew the favor put Abba in debt. Abba was supposed to do everything he could to make sure the man who appointed him wins his re-election bid. Abba did not do anything substantial to influence the outcome of the process. This is why President Jonathan felt bitter. Jonathan must have said words to this effect to himself, ‘’ if I am going down, that guy is going down too: And he is going down before I go down’’.
In his widely acclaimed novel, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe described the implications of a royal death in an effete Igbo milieu. He told of how a dead king was never committed to the grave alone. The dead king was provided some company. Some people had to die because the king died. Something like a transition entourage.
These are Goodluck Jonathan days; not those pre-colonial days. But the loss of a king still produces casualties. And head hunting still follows political deaths, as a matter of course.