BY SONI AKOJI
In 2011, Goodluck Jonathan presented himself for election for the first time in his political career that have seen him occupying various positions from Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and Acting President with the within the span of twelve years of our moribund democracy.
For someone who came from an obscured political background and found himself at the apogee of his political career by merely tagging along and benefiting from the ill-luck fate dealt on his principals, the 2011 presidential election was an acid test for Jonathan. Hitherto Jonathan had little resistance and the luxury of carrying ‘almost zero’ and forgivable political baggage. He had not served for a long enough period in office to prove whether or not he could fulfill promises. His 2011 presidential campaign was packed with buzzwords and policy marketing. He announced his candidacy via Facebook, promised to take major steps forward in anti-corruption, presented a “roadmap” to fix the electricity crisis in the country, and, the most important mandate, the ambitious and amorphous “Transformation Agenda,” which promised to fulfill Vision 20:2020 and the first National Implementation Plan (NIP), harkening back to the 1960s era of national projects, inter alia were some of the blueprint his think-tank coupled together within a very short period.
For someone who have never taken to the ring as a prize fighter in the political arena, where no prisoners are taken by the contending forces, Jonathan needed all the supports he can muster at that point in time and a ‘godfather’ to anchor his campaign. This is where the Owu Chief, Olusegun Obasanjo came in handy.
Obasanjo literately took over the campaign to get Jonathan elected as President. Asked by a reporter why he, Baba Iyabo have so much faith in Jonathan, the Owu Chief responded that Jonathan has undergone enough tutelage as Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and Acting President. Obasanjo further stated that he has no doubt that with the experience Jonathan has gathered, Nigeria will be in safer hands if we elect Jonathan as our president.
Well I didn’t share in the optimism of the Owu Chief and candidate Jonathan, so he didn’t get my vote. Nigerians however voted unanimously for him and he won the presidential election with a MOONSLIDE, such that even goats and fishes of the Niger Delta creeks were not left out as they all queued up behind the Otuokean, whose, ”I HAVE NO SHOE,” slogan resonates with.
Jonathan became President and under THREE years he has frittered away all the goodwill the people inhered on him.
The International community have focused their searchlight on Jonathan and are unanimous in dismissing him as a derelict on account of the intractable security situation in the country, following the kid gloves with which he has handled the Boko Haram insurgency and his late response sequel to the abduction of over 200 school girls in Chibok.
Obasanjo was not left out as he gave his own verdict on Jonathan, when he stated that , “The Federal Government could have acted quickly when the news broke so as to save the innocent girls, but nothing was done. Their future is significant as such everything possible must be done to rescue them,” he said.
There would have been no problem if Obasanjo stopped at passing a vote of NO CONFIDENCE on Jonathan. The Owu Chief insults our sensibilities when he overreached himself and endorsed his Man Friday, the Jigawa state governor Sule Lamido as the man to lead us to the promise land, after Jonathan frittered away the opportunity he had to write his name in the Hall of Fame of Transformational leaders.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo two days ago threw his weight behind the speculated presidential ambition of governor of Jigawa State, Malam Sule Lamido describing the governor as qualified to lead the country.
The Owu Chief stated this while fielding question from newsmen in Dutse Jigawa state during his one day visit to the state.
He said going by Sule Lamido’s record of performance it shows that he is capable to hold any position and can stand shoulder to shoulder with any body.
“Based on his track record can you say he is not competent?, he is competent, he can stand shoulder to shoulder with any one in this nation”. Speaking further, the Ebora of Owu said that, “Our hope is to produce future leaders who would grow up with one Nigeria in their mind, committed and patriotic, those who understand that self is not good enough but us rather than I and that is the kind of leadership we need”
Obasanjo also congratulated Sule Lamido for successfully building one of the world class international airports within a short period of time describing the project as one of the critical infrastructures needed to foster social and economic development.
At this point in our nation’s history, with the ship of state tethered on the brink of an abyss, as a result of failure of the people to get it right with the process of leadership succession, we cannot afford to make the same mistake that has brought us here and made us the bout of jokes the world over. We must get it right this time, but then we have to stop the Owu Chief and his bandits from imposing another candidate on us. We must chose our own leader in line with the true spirits and letters of democracy.
What is Democracy? I ask this question because there seems to be a great confusion about what the word Democracy means. In spite of the fact that at least in this part of the world one can hear it from the media every day.
Democracy by definition means the government by the people for the people, as Abbey Lincoln puts it. That means that all the people should be able to have their say in one way another in everything that affects their lives. Dictionaries usually say that this right can either be exercised directly (by every member of a community having the possibility to enter personally, without mediators, his position on a particular issue into the decision making process or through representatives (members of legislative bodies).
Jimmy Carter sums it up in his speech to the India Parliament on June 2nd, 1978, where he posited that, ”Democracy is like the experience of life itself – always changing, infinite in its variety, sometimes turbulent and all the more valuable for having been tested for adversity.”
As Jonathan heads into 2015, with a negative verdict of history, he has about eight more months to pass three crucial tests, proving his leadership credentials.
Test #1: Can President Jonathan successfully push through the war against terror and regain the confidence of not only Nigerians but the international community who did not mince words in dismissing him as a derelict?
At first, the president appeared cavalier about the gravity of the Boko Haram threat. He once commented that “The issue of Boko Haram that we are experiencing today in Nigeria is nothing new globally. Most countries of the world had experienced terrorist attacks in their long history. These are temporary challenges we have and definitely we shall get over it.” President Jonathan later stiffened his resolve, promising to “crush” Boko Haram with a renewed military presence throughout the North East – though, we should remember, that this tactic did not work the first time when the insurgency was first repressed in 2009, as militants dissolved back into society. With the global focus on Nigeria due to the lackluster response from Jonathan in the wake of the wholesale abduction of Chibok school girls, one is tempted to think that Jonathan has left it a little too late.
Test #2: Will President Jonathan be able to successfully conduct the 2015 general election and adjudicate the disputes that may arise sequel to the presidential election in which he is scheming to win as an incumbent?
In Nigeria today, people have become accustomed to profound disappointment and bitter infighting along ethnic, tribal, and religious lines. Democracy is far from perfect in Nigeria, and not since the 1993 election of M. K. O. Abiola (which was immediately reversed by Gen. Babangida) has the country had an entirely credible election. However, Nigeria’s “pacted democracy” – or whatever other adjective we wish to place before the term – is the decided model of governance that causes the least amount of damage, and whether or not it is possible to hold a fair vote, all disputes are meant to be handled fairly with due process before an independent court of law.
Over the past year, however, it appears that the mis-named Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) and the special tribunals established to handle disputed elections have failed to inspire confidence, leading many citizens divested of their right to suffrage and representative government. 2015 must not go the way of previous elections, otherwise the consequences might be dire.
Test #3 Jonathan’s ambition and PDP CRISIS: The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Elders committee headed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo it will be recall has told President Goodluck Jonathan to be a man of his words and honour the agreement he committed himself, to run for only a single term. How Jonathan will circumvent this remained to be seen, but it sure does promise to be another source of in-fighting and disagreement between the party hierarchy.
The days ahead indeed shall be pregnant with a lot of intrigues. No doubt the world would question our irrationality and wonder at our amazing degree of resilience, should Jonathan return as President in 2015, after they have damage his credibility. But then, we must tell the Owu Chief to step aside and watch from the comforts of his Hilltop Mansion, as we attempt to clear his mess. If not for meddlesome Obasanjo, Nigeria wouldn’t have been on global spotlight on account of leadership dereliction. Goodluck Jonathan was seered by the Ebora of Owu kingdom in the coven and he failed woefully in terms of positive outcomes. Biologically, it is impossible for a goat to birth a lion, so Obasanjo should ship out and allow Nigerians to determine the fate of Sule Lamido after the EFCC has successfully investigated how Lamido and Sons Nigeria Limited managed the proceeds of Jigawa state SURE-P.
Soni Akoji a Pharmacist and Social Media critic wrote from Abuja