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Date Published: 05/18/10

2011: SHOULD HE OR SHOULD HE NOT RUN? By Gbenga Olumekun


Nigeria is a funny place and has the international distinction of being able to muster support for ANY idea or policy no matter how ridiculous. Time and time again this has been demonstrated even though that was not the way we were in the beginning. The Americans roundly expressed their frustrations at this negative virtue during the Abacha era. Gone were those days when the Awolowos of this world would stick to a point of view and become maligned and ostracised for such unpopular ideas. Those were the days when “men were men and women were born to those who deserved them”, apologies to Chinua Achebe. Those were the days when holding on to principles was a virtue; now it is a great failing which may decide whether you are able to put bread on your table or not. 

Over the years I have been wondering how we came to lose grip on our principles as a nation and have come to array leaders, politicians, scientists, labour activists, human rights impostors, student leaders and the like who are capable of changing their beliefs, doctrines and ideologies with the timely movements of the hands of the clock, whether the long or short one. We have even mastered the act of circumlocution to perfection and we are now capable of holding divergent and convergent views on the same topic at the same time. What an irony! There are men who are able to speak from all sides of the mouth based on the mood swings of the crowd while at the same time presenting a wide enough window to appease the powers that be in case such views seem contrary to the opinions of the establishment. I believe here lies the problem with our nation: our inability to maintain a policy or ideology in spite of temporal opposition or unpopularity. Is this why the late Bola Ige described our political parties as the “fingers of the same leprous hand”? In 1979 we knew what the political parties: UPN or the PRP or the NPN etc stood for. In the 60s politics we knew what the NPC or Action Group or NCNC stood for. Come to think of it, we knew a man like Aminu Kano who was resolute in his opposition of feudalism. He was passionate for his beliefs to the extent that one politician described him as one person who could very readily wake up early in the morning to pick up placards to demonstrate against his own government which had been elected the previous day. That was the era when we had ideas and ideologies. Yes we do have an ideology now: it is called mystomachology! The government of myself for myself and by myself. 

I have traced the advent of this mood change in our country and I can squarely lay the blame on IBB. He, out of all our past rulers was able to identify the weaknesses in us and exploited them to his own advantage. He discovered that every man had his price and every opinion has a roundabout, a turning point, as long as the right price was identified. Blame IBB I will, but the failing wasn’t in him, it was already deeply situated in our genes and it took the “Evil Genius” himself no time to identify and exploit this to maximum benefit. This is why I can only but dismiss the rabble rousers who are at it again, urging Jonathan Goodluck to contest the 2011 election. They are only being driven by mystomachology. 

Don’t get me wrong. I do not see any apparently genuine reason to constitutionally disqualify Goodluck from contesting the 2011 election and I believe it is his right as a Nigerian. I actually believe he might be the best amongst those who are warming up but is this best we can do in the national interest? Is it politically expedient? Is this his destiny? I hate the proposition of federal character or the zoning principle as enunciated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a passion because it rewards mediocrity and discourages excellence.  

However, President Goodluck’s focus must not be like that of OBJ who needed more time to concretise his “achievements”. We now know what blind passion can do to a vision. The contraption he hurriedly installed has succeeded in uprooting every landmark achievement of his administration. Majority of us believe an assignment is time-linked, the longer the better, but this is wrong. A divine assignment may be for a short duration, what is important is the fulfilment of the vision and the magnitude of the assignment. Let’s go spiritual. How long did John the Baptist and Steven’s ministries last for? Christians know the impacts even though they had little time. I am sure we can find parallels in the other religions.

President Goodluck has the good fortune to be our president without ever scheming. Those things which men have spent lifetimes and lorry loads of Naira and stolen Dollars to pursue have been landed on his lap. The Emirs, Governors and the National Assembly even contrived an illegality just to enable him achieve the purpose of his life, say or think what you will. I bet when he was a bloody university teacher like me he never aspired to become the Vice Chancellor of his university let alone the governor of his state, the VeePee or the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  I was even one of those embittered by his calm mien during the whole Yar’ Adua pericardiatis saga but I have been won over and I have the deepest respect for him. It is a treatise in the virtues of long-suffering. Maybe this was why he needed Patience as a companion? Surely the name and personality must have rubbed on. Posterity has an assignment for every man. It is left for the man to either fulfil his destiny or to seek to change his destiny and pursue a cause for which he has not been ordained. We have hands created to perform works and we can seek to manufacture a new destiny for ourselves. However, no man succeeds in attaining the best if it is outside his destiny. Such a man will fail in the pursuit of his destiny and he will have his name written with tar instead of gold. 

In the coming days the Daniel Kanus, the Kingibes, the Babatopes, the Fanikayodes and others of like species will contribute their voices to the saner ones in asking our Goodluck to run for President in 2011. My dear President, do not mind them. Your assignment today is to leave behind an enduring legacy. We need what I will term foundational reconstruction. Help us to restore democracy and let there be light in our houses and factories. Let our votes count and let the small scale manufacturer get enough electricity to produce something. It is not about time neither is it about money. You already have enough of these. If you can set these foundations within the 12 months you have to serve, you would have done better than those who had eight uninterrupted years of waste! After all, you never asked for nor schemed to be where you are now, neither did you ever dream of it. Who knows where your good luck will take you next? Ban Ki Moon should better watch out! It may be the UN next.


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