Date Published: 05/12/10
In Search of Nigeria’s Next President By Alhaji Abdallah Mailafia Sha’ibu
I join millions other Nigerians in praying for the repose of the soul of the immediate past president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died in the cold hands of death after a long battle with kidney related ailment and pericarditis (a condition involving the inflammation of the outer covering of the heart). As expected by all peace loving Nigerians, there was a peaceful transfer of power to the acting president Goodluck Jonathan who was sworn in as the fourteenth president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria thereby putting an end to all speculations and permutations.
In the few weeks to come, there is going to be serious politicking with the ultimate target of 2011 in mind when Nigerians shall elect the next president to pilot the affairs of this great country for the next four years. The scheming for the office of the vice president is a tip of what to expect in time to come. Meanwhile, there are speculations that Jonathan may contest in 2011. Whatever may be the case, it’s going to be an interesting but delicate period in our political journey.
Our able president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan in his CNN interview with Amanpour mentioned that he has two options before him when asked whether he was going to contest the 2011 election. He may either run on his own or run as vice president to whoever the party chooses as the presidential flag bearer come 2011. Good talk. Present realities, however, may make the second choice inconceivable. Can a sitting president on his own volition decide to demote himself? Not in Nigeria.
A third option which Jonathan failed to mention to Amanpour and which becomes imperative at this time is the Mandela option. That is, to retire to his village after the completion of his tenure. Those who are against this line of thought are quick to argue that Goodluck Jonathan will be too young to retire at the end of this administration. The question to ask is: what if he contests in 2011 and he loses? Will he go and jump into the Lagoon? Or will he annul the election in order to continue in office?
The Presidential Advisory Committee was right to have strongly warned the president not to run. Bearing in mind our fragile democracy and the circumstances that brought him to power; it is just apt that Goodluck does not push his luck too far. A Ghanaian proverb says “he who does not know where he is coming from is unlikely to know where he is going to”. If Jonathan pretends that he does not know the realities on ground, then it is just too bad.
However, if Jonathan decides to run against all odds as it’s being speculated, several distortions would have been done. The internal arrangement of the party that he benefited from in the first instance is disregarded. This could spell doom for the party. Secondly, the time to the next general elections is too short that he might end up putting all his attentions on the election to the detriment of our socio-economic and political problems that are begging for urgent attention. This again will not favour Mr. President because his re-election will be a function of his performance.
To argue that the time is short for us to have any meaningful impact from Jonathan is to hide under a lame excuse. President Obama’s performance started to manifest before his one year in office. Governor Fashola’s wonders in Lagos were seen everywhere when some other State Governors were still blaming their predecessors for under-developing their respective states.
If given the opportunity, I have just one question to ask Dr Goodluck Jonathan. The question is, what does he want to be remembered for? A gentleman who is favoured by God and is thankful at the same time? Or a greedy politician who does not give a hoot what happens to his country so long as his personal ambitions are realized? Jonathan should decide.
Alhaji Abdallah Mailafia Sha’ibu
No 8A Tudun Wada Street