Friday, 21 November 2014

With Jonathan’s Hat in the Ring…



With Jonathan’s Hat in the Ring…
Last week, Tuesday the 11th of November, 2014, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan officially declared to run for president in the oncoming 2015 general elections for a second tenure, or third, depending on who is speaking. In spite of his body language and every indication in that direction, he had prevaricated stating clearly his desire to run for reasons best known to him, but clearly political. The declaration came at the heels of a dastardly bomb blast, at the Government Science Secondary school in Potiskum during morning assembly which left about fifty persons dead with scores injured, barely twenty-four hours earlier. All fingers naturally point to the Islamist insurgents, Boko Haram, presently terrorizing the nation on the northeastern fringes and elsewhere.
Expectedly, the opposition, chiefly the All Progressive Congress (APC), sought political capital out of the situation. Alh Lai Mohammed the APC spokesman was quick to issue out a statement accusing Jonathan of insensitivity for going ahead with the planned declaration – which in Nigeria is usually a fanfare and jamboree of sorts – in the face of the unfortunate killing of the school children. In politics that is not strange, especially in periods of heightened electioneering such as the one we are now in. Political opponents will usually seek to exploit every conceivable, and inconceivable, opportunity to make the other look bad, and in most cases the ruling party gets the harder knocks as something will only naturally not go well in the state and responsibility lies on such a party’s head until it is upstaged.
Therefore, Jonathan had two options: either to have called of the already planned event or to have carried on, as he did. Either way would have been determined by his “good” judgment of the prevailing circumstances as the President and Commander-in-Chief, given the daily security briefings he receives. He decided to carry on. After all have we not heard the presidency blame the opposition directly and indirectly for the insurgency? Did we not hear supporters of Jonathan claim that the attack on the Potiskum School was calculated, twenty-four hours to their principal’s declaration, to disrupt or even stop him from making the declaration? If anyone held such a belief, why would someone elsewhere think that Jonathan would give detractors the pleasure of having their way? I, personally, would not. By the way, we must get used to the reality that if this insurgency continues the as it is going, which, by all indication, it will, regardless of who wins the 2015 election, this nation must be ready to defy the terrorists. What they want to do is to take away our way of life. We must not allow them have their way.
But, the politics of Jonathan’s declaration event aside, what should be more worrying is the kind of divisiveness the very person of President Jonathan has come to embody in the Nigerian polity. It was this division that brought about the post-election crisis of 2011 and, if anything, it has festered. Definitely, it was not Jonathan’s making ab-initio, but one cannot confidently submit that he has not grown to enjoy it or even take advantage of it in the light of comments that have emanated from his presidency and his supporters in the public space; and also in the light of clear policy steps that many have seen that he should have taken but fail or refused to.
We must not forget the events that threw up Jonathan to the presidency from the time Yar’adua took ill in November 2009 through to the 2011 elections. So much bile went round as it was clear the northern political gladiators of the time never wanted him to go on. He did go on but the north, particularly its Muslim streets, never has been able to muster even a modicum of goodwill for him. Thus, the cracks widened along regional and religious lines. I always argue that many of those who gave their vote to Jonathan in 2011 did not necessarily vote for him but voted in protest of the establishment that they perceived as wanting to have their way and only their way in the power game of Nigeria. Buhari and CPC then were only a collateral damage. Unfortunately, if Jonathan read the situation well, he cannot be said to have “dazzled his opponents” with stellar performance but rather, exploit it. The same scenario would appear to want to play out leading up to 2015.
Today, Nigerians do not seem to be capable of dispassionately appraising their leadership in order to make the kind of choices that democracy affords for progress of state and society. They seem only to be waiting for Election Day to turn round again so that they would troop to the polls to punish their perceived enemy. Alas, we have done ourselves in.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Nov. 20, 2014; p5.

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