Date Published: 05/13/10
Goodluck, his Ambition, the Electoral Process and Nigeria. By Peter Claver Oparah.
With the death of President Musa Yar’Adua and the bitter altercations that attended his last days way behind us, there is every need to remind President Goodluck Jonathan that Nigeria is a work begging for urgent attention. By now, he must have rounded off propitiation to the benevolent deity that had brought him thus far. Even as he savour the glory of the cheap praises and adulations freely spent on him by traditional hustlers and expectant Nigerians, he must realize that his getting there is a means and not the end itself. There is need for him to refresh his mind on what the critical mission should be and what imperative needs be touched up to steer the tottering Nigerian ship from perdition and set it on the paths of glory. The way it came should inform Jonathan that he does not have the liberty to indulge in the reveling of the past, to get swept away by the vanities of power as not to know that his is a call to duty. He must eschew all those foibles and manifest shortcomings that have made past leaders mere journey men in the task of reductionism, which Nigerian leadership has been since independence.
One is mindful of that primordial instinct in man to go for the next round, even when he had hardly began the first round. One is mindful of that damning weakness in man that makes him eternally ambitious for power. Let us face it, Jonathan is not immune from it and one way or the other, we must expect the decrementing fallouts of such selfish instincts in Jonathan as he rides a providential tenure. Jonathan knows that try as he and his supporters, admirers and foes see the hand of God in his giddy ascent to glory, there are more of human inputs in mischief, intrigues and plots in his dizzying rise to power. He knows that he has gotten thus far, more out of Machiavellian stratagem, which, we must grant him, were mainly not his own plotting but more of he who presently sees him as a vehicle for further suzerainty. If we recall how Jonathan, an anonymous assistant governor, was forced on the throne when his principal, Alameseigha, was targeted for removal, how he was picked from the lowly ambitious cache of governors to be the deputy to an ailing Umaru Yar’Adua in the race for the 2007 presidential election that turned to a mere charade, we may well agree that the hands of a benevolent God played little role in the present. The raving fangs of man’s mischief were in full swing and here we are.
That said, one is mindful of the fact that nothing, as in the provisions of the country’s law books, prevents Jonathan from contesting for the country’s presidency in the coming election. That is his right but then, one must counsel that he ensures that he goes through this in a politically correct way that neither wounds the sensibilities of other Nigerians, who have equal rights and who should be allowed equal opportunity to contest for the highest post in the land nor bank on the wobbly process that endures so far to give him a full mandate. Even as Jonathan knows that political intrigues, manipulations and other shenanigans, more than the right electoral etiquette, got him where he is today, he should avoid the temptation to cut corners through the less than edifying manner he got to where he is today. He must ensure that, like a thief, his offspring should get the best moral educations possible, he must ensure that the process he anchors his presidential dream is devoid of the short shrifts and unholy manipulations that has fired his luck so far.
A cursory glance of Jonathan’s early moves since he assumed the duty of Acting President suggests he may not possibly mind walking the same road map that has catapulted him thus far and that will be his albatross in the long run. One needs advice Jonathan that the durability and sustainability of his candidacy in the forth coming polls depend largely on how he ensures the country and its electoral process departs radically from the fraud-ridden and stricken manner our leaders are selected and this is where he faces his greatest challenge. Far from the half-hearted sack of Maurice Iwu who has come to personify everything wrong with our electoral system, Jonathan needs to go the whole hog in ensuring that the next election does not get stranded on the whims of those that have one way or the other, found themselves in power. One would have thought that Jonathan would have insisted on a holistic adoption of the reports of the Uwais Electoral Reform Panel. This would have entailed him leaving, among other things, the appointment of INEC Chairman to the Nigerian Judicial Council as that body wisely recommended. Which of the portions of the reports Jonathan will take or leave is still not clear to Nigerians as they are yet to come to terms with his plan to reinvent the badly mangled electoral process, few months to a critical general election?
One would have thought that since he became the Acting President, Jonathan would have jump-started the process of ensuring that the next election, where he is speculated to be interested in contesting is free and fair. With the Uwais report as a handy working instrument, one would have thought that by now, the nation would have been roused into a re-awakening frenzy about the next leadership selection process but here we are, trying to wobble our ways through the shambolic process that has ensured the country is condemned to unending electoral mischief that turns over horrible leaders that fumble at the starting blocs of statecraft at every turn of our fifty years as an independent nation. Even as he sent horrible signals with his ill-advised defense of Maurice Iwu in his interview with the CNN during his last visit to the United States, one still believes that Goodluck Jonathan is sufficiently assaulted by the manner that has rewarded him thus far because as it rewards him and few others, Nigeria gets increasingly decimated as a result of the doggedness of electoral roguery in our body politic. If he thinks he will lead Nigeria into another deaf and dumb adventure in audacious electoral scam, he should forget it because he will succeed in inadvertently unleashing a whirlwind that will consume him at the end of the day.
Again, one notices the imprimatur of the discredited former president Olusegun Obasanjo in most of the early moves made so far by Jonathan. One does not need to tell him that he courts a shallow grave should he entertain the thoughts that our demand for sanity is a repetition of the very deliberate acts of plain duplicity with which Obasanjo and his cronies sank a country that was at the peak of harvest in the eight years they ran their self-adulating Animal Farm. The quick way he is enlisting Obasanjo’s footsoldiers and in some cases, bending the law to grant them amnesty from their bad deeds will certainly do one thing; box Jonathan into the suspected plot of mischief that produced Yar’Adua and which the North now suspects, was deliberately foisted to steal power from them. By making his regime look like Obasanjo’s unrealized third term, Jonathan is merely hewing a shallow grave that will consume him at the end of the day. Truth is that if Obasanjo was invested with just a modicum of sincerity, the country will not be the hell hole it is today after eight years of bizarre raping and celebration of self and minions. This is certainly a report for another day but the lesson that must be drawn is that Jonathan should not hope to ride on the backs of Obasanjo’s mischievous ways to power in 2011.
That done, it is germane to let Jonathan know that far from strategizing on how to bend the process to access power, the best way to mobilize for power, for someone in public office, is performance. I believe that if he satisfies the yearning of Nigerians on key critical sectors in the interregnum his presidency provides, he will certainly be renewed for better results. This means he has the greatest opportunity to succeed himself in 2011 if and only he attends to the critical demands Nigerians cry their hearts out. In an earlier report, I had collapsed these into three in view of the short period Jonathan will stay in his present make-up tenure and they are, Electoral Reform, Infrastructure Renewal, and satisfactorily Resolving the Niger Delta problem. These are realizable and he can even exceed this simple target if he musters the will. As for fighting corruption, I believe all the window dressing in recent times need not be repeated. Even as one believes that decibel must be fought with all arsenals at our disposal, one is increasingly running to the conclusion that what is needed to expunge corrupt or strike a comprehensive reduction of its intensity in Nigeria is a very radical measure that is akin to what Ghana did to kick start the renaissance that sees it where it is today. Neither the self-celebrating, highly selective and political hatchet work of Nuhu Ribadu nor the sloppy, almost disoriented enterprise Farida Waziri is doing at present has left any appreciable dent on corruption, especially in the last eleven years of dysfunctional democracy the country is slaving through and honestly, I don’t believe that Goodluck Jonathan has the nerves to do any great harm to the fangs of corruption.
It is usual that Jonathan is now swathed in flattering confetti. He is bathed in very flattering lights that can never trace its roots to any worthwhile intervention he had made in the chequered history of our present democratic dispensation. He may not know that all these fit into Nigerian’s love for the new, their frustration with the past and their ardent hope that a new man may just, via the hands of a yet-unrealized providence, prove to be different from the man that had just left. Because many have misread this shifty scenario to mean full hearted attention, there is need to warn him against building anything on this false foundation, which is why he must be careful on how he goes about his plans for arresting the drift of the Nigerian state and placing it on the paths of re-invention and how he charts his future political dream. He may wake up to find out that the, like a bad dream, he will be on his own once his present make-up reign ebbs away.
Peter Claver Oparah.