ANALYSIS: Blatter’s Exit: A Case Of Failed Power Play; An Alarm Bell For Public OfficersFeatured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, June 5th, 2015
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau
After surviving a stern supremacy tussle between him and other powerful stakeholders and subsequently re-elected as the FIFA President last Friday, for the fifth time, at the body’s 65th Congress, not a few had concluded that Sepp Blatter was fully back to be in charge of affairs of the world football governing body, for another four years. Therefore, it was shocking, when the news was broken Tuesday (this week) and circulated in the mass and social media that Blatter after being elected, although amidst dragged and serious controversies, had bowed to pressure and resigned from the office he had occupied for well over a decade as well as his call for an extraordinary meeting for another congress to elect new leader!
On Blatter’s last re-election and rather dramatic resignation, there were certainly crises of integrity, morality as well as questions. For instance, it was amazing to see Blatter chasing FIFA highest position desperately, despite being conscious of certain shady deals involving his executive committee and stiff opposition (on account of the alleged sleazy conduct) to his ambition, all of which he (Blatter) was sure were real. Recall the main scandal (allegation) against him as exposed by the United States (US) prosecutors were charges of bribery, racketeering, money laundering and kickbacks estimated at over $150 Million.
In spite of this huge and very shocking scandals, it might be suggested that the entire stinking affairs perpetrated by the FIFA executives would have probably been swept under the carpet, if not for the exposure as well as concern expressed by other interests, namely the UEFA Head, Michel Platini; Blatter’s co-contestants and the last congress sponsors.
If Blatter had remained as the FIFA President, perhaps, his fifth tenure would have been fraught with a lingering crisis of loyalty as well as insubordination. I wonder if a parallel world football body would not have along the line been created or a parallel FIFA EXCO to rival with the 79 year old Blatter if he had failed to take the step he took lately.
Recall it was the same FIFA under Blatter that waded into Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) power tussle late last year when its immediate past President, Aminu Maigari was about to hand over. The row actually began with the arrest of Maigari on his return last year’s June from Brazil after the crash out of the Super Eagles from the last World Cup fiesta. The trouble extended to two different removals of Maigari from office, polarization of NFF, conduct of parallel congresses and so many legal battles among the parties concerned, including the past administration.
The same Blatter who slammed suspension on Nigeria for leadership illegality and failure to put her glass house in order, had until his re-election and resolve to exit, been found embroiled in similar misconduct, he had sanctioned other member countries, Nigeria as a good example.
Ultimately, the good thing that has happened was Blatter’s resignation when it was clearly dawn on him that his credibility has plummeted and relevance was near zero. This was encapsulated in his final submission a statement I considered an ‘obvious confession’. Blatter said: “My mandate does not appear to be supported by everybody.” Could this septuagenarian be hailed for leaving when ovation was the loudest? Blatter from personal judgement, only attempted to ‘steal’ victory – to be hailed as a hero.
In the first place, he knew the heavy allegations against him and his executive committee were not frame up, therefore, it was expected that he ought to have back out of the race. Ironically, what transpired were manipulations and so much of propaganda which were all tailored towards ensuring that his Presidential ambition was actualized. Of Course, the plots worked out as both Luis Figo and Michael van Praag, pulled out of the contest, a situation that left him (Blatter) and Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein as candidates for the May 29, 2015 election.
The fact of the matter here is that Blatter eventually toed the path of honour, but very late. And this is the dimension that is relevant to my focus today and every occupants of political offices and the aspirants.
History in the case of Blatter’s action might be said to be repeating itself. In the past and till present, many African countries had witnessed series of power tussles, prompted by their leaders (Military and Civilian) mainly on crave to remain in power, by all means, for parochial reasons, but which unfortunately degenerated to bloody wars and claimed so many innocent lives.
Many still recall today the 1980-88 civil war in Liberia, during the regime of late Samuel Doe as leader of the West African country. Summarily, Doe then, was no more popular among the Liberians, due to misfortunes he had wrecked on the country’s economy and cases of corruption against him. Yet, he held on to power, thereby, sent soldiers after his people and waged bloody war against them! The almost a decade battle drew global attention and resulted to formation of the regional Military peace keeping Force – The Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). In the end, after killings of thousands of Liberians and many foreigners, including journalists, the late President Doe was captured, brutalized and killed!
Former Côte d’Ivoire President, Laurent Gbagbo tried the unexpected in his country when he devilishly delayed and pushed the Presidential Election from 2005 to 2010. Despite series of tricks he deployed, Gbagbo lost to the opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara. When he failed to accept clear defeat, violence broke out; he went into hiding, but was eventually found, arrested with his wife and humiliated in the afternoon of April 11, 2011 inside Golf Hotel by Ouattara’s forces. His administration was also accused of mass killings of protesters, and he is presently being tried by the ICC.
In Nigeria, past leaders including Military President Ibrahim Babangida; Head of State, late General Sanni Abacha and some years back after his eight year tenure as civilian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, had all attempted to sit tight in the office, but failed, following resistance by the politicians and the general public. In the respective cases, the bottom line was that the leaders were no more popular among the Nigerians, which resulted to persistent demand for their exit.
I must mention here the incidents that followed the last Nigerian Presidential elections. Former President Goodluck Jonathan on March 31, after being pressured, put a “surprise” call through to his main rival – the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and congratulated him on his assured victory and expected declaration. Perhaps due to the level and manner of politics in this part of the world, the former President was considered by some, as a hero for this act. Of course, those who disagreed (I did) have made their points very clearly that what the former Nigerian Leader did, was just a normal thing. I have argued it that, there was no special commendation for a father who pays his child school fee, knowing fully well it is an obligation he can never abdicate. In other words, the point is here repeated, that former President Jonathon effectively did not have choice than to concede that defeat and leave in peace as happened last Friday – May 29, when Nigeria had a smooth transition with the presence of the world leaders.
I repeat former President Jonathan had no choice than to accept the outcome of a free and credible (to a large extent) poll. If he had any, it could have been to keep exploiting the likes of Elder Godsday Orubebe’s show of shame (to disrupt the exercise) after many had initially failed, a situation that could have led to chaos. However, the former President to me, only behaved like a good student of history that, even if the exercise was truncated, everybody including himself and his party, would be the victims. In fact, he might have reasoned that the long effects of the violence could be devastating and unpredictable to him, given the previous similar cases within and outside the country.
Perhaps, it was the same circumstances that led to Blatter, stepping down, just as he realized and was faced with the reality that his case was like the one who had murdered sleep, so, should not expect any minute of rest. Obviously, Blatter had foreseen a crisis-ridden regime and concluded that he had no choice than to hands off. It was more of similar calculation in the case of the immediate past Nigerian President.
Agree FIFA is a mere world football governing body and one may tempt to ask, of what significance is its politics or power tussle relevant to Nigeria and her politics as well as the rest of the world?
The big lesson in Baltter’s action is very simple and it has been established earlier. The message is that a good leader – loved and respected by his people does not beg for support or force himself on his followers. Instead, appreciation and recognition are earned; given to deserving leaders effortlessly. That, it is not a feature of a good leader to wait until he is forcefully, by whatever means, out of office. That, accountability, focus, transparency and productivity are very key in governance as well as significant factors for support and cooperation of the governed.
Presently, Burundi is gripped in over a month political mess as the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza insisted and remained adamant against the popular wish of his people to contest in the next Presidential election of the East African country. The raging violent protests had claimed not less than 20 lives; there have been a failed coup attempt recently, yet, the President sustained his political ambition, leaving the future of Burundi and her citizenry in danger and doubt.
Nkurunziza’s case is not any way different from Doe, Gbagbo, the former Nigeria leaders and latest, Blatter. President Nkurunziza must therefore learn lessons from the previous cases and take a cue from the two most recent cases – President Jonathan (acceptance of defeat) and Blatter bowing out after being re-elected, specifically to allow peace to reign. Nkurunziza must realize that both men took their decision when faced with the reality, that their popularity has nose-dived. In any case, he has choice to listen to his people or continue to be disillusioned by the personal ambition, hence ended up in shameful and terrible manner like others who lacked respect for their people.
Finally, the new administration in Nigerian happily, is headed by a person of an established integrity and honour. Therefore, all President Muhammadu Buhari needed is to remain focus, stay in constant touch with the wishes of common Nigerians as well as work tirelessly and sincerely to attend to them. Many Nigerians believe that the new President, given his pedigree, will not be dissolved in the luxuries of his office, thereby being distracted from the enormous tasks before him now and which will remain till his last days in the office. President Buhari, Nigerians believe in your ability, capability and honesty, which were the main factors they voted you. Therefore, be assured that if you delivered to their expectation, you will continue to enjoy the existing goodwill; they will keep loving you; cooperate with your government and the country would be saved form debate of whether you and your fresh government is popular or not. A new Nigeria, yes we shall achieve it together. Wishing you and Nigeria well!
Fayose, Metuh, Wike: Characters To watch In This Dispensation
For so many factors, this sub piece has not featured in my analysis, despite keen interest to do so. If there were characters to watch especially in the leading opposition, party the PDP (for now), they are the so called Governor of Rivers State, Nyeson Wike; his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose and the current national Publicist of their party, Olisa Metuh.
For Wike, it is a common knowledge that his victory was achieved through the back door. The rest would therefore be decided by the State Election petitions tribunal and other courts. But it is ironical and interesting to hear the man threatening day and night to probe his former boss, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who gave him the golden opportunity to have a Ministerial shot in the last administration. Wike boasted he would probe the government, in which he was part of, for not less than six years or thereabout. As for this man, I do not know how many days or months he thinks he will spend on the present seat, for him to have begun to talk of probe. All his actions, right from the inauguration day till date, are just disgusting to me, as they did not reflect the circumstances that led to his so called election and declaration as the winner in the first place. Wike to me, is like a clown who is only displaying and dramatizing within a short given time. He is not different from a noise maker. Only time will prove bookmakers right on his peculiar case.
As for Fayose, he thrilled onlookers when he declared yesterday that he had forgiven the former State’s APC lawmakers and added that he was not going to victimize anyone. Fayose like his colleague in Rivers, is also a dramatis Personae. In the first place, who is supposed to be talking of forgiveness and victimization? Governor Fayose earlier in the week, took his drama to the peak, when it was reported that he had written President Buhari, requesting for his nod to send Ministerial nominee. Fayose’s Nomination; even if accepted, to represent whose interest in whose cabinet? Could someone wake Mr. Fayose, if still in deep sleep and tell him, even the APC Governors do not make direct Ministerial nomination in this government? Of course, he might know, but for his type of character, he would always wish to be in the news, unfortunately, for many unpleasant reasons. Could someone please tell the two men that the PDP is more in government, therefore, they should mind their very serious business in their respective States, if they have any good plan at all? Or why should people with the stolen mandates cannot bury their heads in shame, be humble and remorseful for once? Unrepentant arrogant, reckless people!
Here, especially in Fayose’s case, I wish to commend the newly elected President. The Governor should realize that his last illegality in the State could as well been halted by the power that be and heaven will still not fall. To have let go, President Buhari might have truly begun to act his legendary inaugural statement: “I belong to everybody; I belong to Nobody”. These two characters especially, Fayose must be wary of their actions and comments. Wike the Governor? You know where I stand please.
As for Metuh, all I wish to see in his new role as the Spokesperson of the opposition party (having being in the ruling party before) is how to balance proficiency with objectivity. Mr Metuh clearly and to a very large extent have been wanting in the latter. Only hope that he would not end up being a mere noise maker and dramatists just like the characters earlier mentioned. Nigerians are watching.
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