Date Published: 05/18/10
An Appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan By Idang Alibi
Dear Mr. President,
From the glint in your eyes, the non-categorical answer you gave to Christiana Amanpour in that famous CNN interview some four weeks back and the political moves you have been making in the past few days, it is clear to any man of average intelligence that you want to run for the presidency next year.
Perhaps, you are right. As a Nigerian, you have every right to aspire to lead your country in line with the Constitution of the country. But I want to appeal to you to forfeit that right for the sake of Nigeria which I know you love so much.
For those who know me and where I come from, this plea of mine may sound shocking and even regionally ‘unpatriotic’. Sir, I am from the Niger Delta and if I were a typical Nigerian, I should be in the vanguard of those calling on you to run in 2011. My argument would be that destiny has made this time ‘our turn’ and has provided us a golden opportunity to lead this nation for a while. It can also be argued that if you do not take what good fortune has given to our region on a platter of gold, when again are we ever likely to ever get it without much sweat as now? I would further support my argument that after all, you are from the region that lays Nigerian golden eggs so we even have a greater right to be at the head of the dividing table.
As a patriot and democrat who wants the best for my country, I nearly called upon you to run in 2011 for the sole reason that your running will throw into the dust bin the zoning formula which I think is not good for our country. I hate zoning because I believe that it is a recipe for not searching for the brightest and the best to lead us but to settle for less that the best available. Most patriots agree that if we want our nation to make rapid progress and become a developed and an industrialized giant as quickly as possible, we must throw open the competition for elective offices so that the best from any where in the country can occupy it and provide effective leadership to the people. These and many more are valid arguments in support of your presidential aspiration.
In spite of these and many other good reasons in favour of your running however, I once again appeal that you shelve such ambition at least for 2011. Here are my reasons. One, such a move will be completely distractive of the task which I think destiny has programmed you to achieve and become that hero that Nigeria has been searching for in the past fifty or so years. I may be right or wrong but I hold the belief that fate has destined you to be a transitional leader who will do the things that are necessary to lay a solid foundation for the rapid growth of Nigeria.
Those things you need to do include providing power, providing enabling environment for free, fair and credible election, ensuring that Nigeria makes maximum gain from the crude oil God has kindly given to our country and sincerely fighting corruption and graft. Your predecessors were unable to achieve any reasonable success with any of those listed crucial task. And one of the main reasons is that they each came to office with some tremendous political IOUs which did not give them the latitude to do what is right for Nigeria. God has seen it fit to grant you access to that strategic office without any baggage so that you can have the courage and self-confidence to do what is necessary to set Nigeria on a high developmental pedestal. If you therefore choose to run, all the advantages you have will be thrown away on the altar of expediency. Two, in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world, it is very costly to run for the presidency. In our country, it is particularly so because our parties are not real parties and so do not have loyal members who can contribute money for the electioneering campaign of any candidate. The candidate has to foot the bill either by himself or with the assistance of a clique of usually corrupt people.
I know that you do not personally have the money to fund your campaign should you insist on running. Since this is so, you are likely to compromise your personal integrity by subverting the system in order to realise the hefty funds you need for your campaign. To put it more unambiguously, you will be tempted to steal and make nonsense of the need to fight corruption in the system. And once you choose to steal you will sort of legitimize it and open the doors for others in your government to also do same. Nigeria will be the poorer for it.
Three, if you decide to run Nigeria will have to forget about free and fair elections in 2011. The main problem with our democracy is that we do not have incumbent leaders who have the maturity and the sense of fairness to organise free and fair election. Perhaps, what Nigeria needs most now is free and fair election. Without it, the stability of our country can not be guaranteed. If you ask most reasonable Nigerians the number one thing they want President Goodluck Jonathan to do for the country, what they will say in answer is that if he can not do anything else, he should have the courage and integrity to bequeath to us a culture of free and fair election. Credible election is even more crucial now than even electricity, important as that is. This is because if we have leaders that know that they owe their mandate to the people, no one will tell them to provide electricity, water, roads and other socio-economic facilities.
Mr. Alibi is an Abuja-based journalist