Date Published: 12/09/09
SOONER OR LATER PRESIDENT JONATHAN IS IT By Farouk Martins Aresa
Never kick a man when he is down. We can only say that amongst decent people, not in the midst of politicians. Indeed, they cannot think about a better time to kick an opponent. President Umaru Yar’Adua is still the leader of this Country and we should pray for his quick recovery. There is more to life than politics; his family would love to see him alive. But it is increasingly difficult for Yar’Ardua to fight for his life and fight off his enemies.
There is a reason we have a Vice-President should the President be unable to carry out his responsibilities according to the constitution. All these arguments, about the turn of one ethnic group or the other for the presidency, boil down to divisive tactics. Most of our presidents have come from the North and none of them has come from the South-south. Any attempt to change a game while playing as our constitution forbid will lead to chaos.
It is an insult to our Northern brothers that they do not know the calculation and the mood of the Country in 2010 and that they never learn playing the same old game over again. Many are informed, Eastern and Western educated Northerners that are part of the polity today. They see the political limelight the same way the whole world see it. There will always be selfish reasons but even that has a pragmatic limitation.
As naïve as some of us may be, no charlatan will be bold enough to declare any other person apart from the one designated by the constitution, as the President by fiat merely because he comes from one part of the Country. People who are perpetrating this notion are only juggling for position and power. That is not unusual in politics or in Nigeria. We always underestimate our brothers in the North and that is why we will be surprised again.
There is doubt that Yar’Adua may last to the end of his first term but because of the rigor of power in politics, he would personally prefer to step down. Of course this will not go down well with his kitchen cabinet, power brokers and god-fathers like those of OBJ and Gowon. They can use President Reagan completed second term under dubious medical status espoused by some quarters in the United States.
We have heard that Vice-President Goodluck must not push his luck too far and relocate somewhere else for his safety. The fear is that he may be assassinated in case Yar’Adua steps down. No matter where he is, even amongst his ethnic group, his life could be endangered and has been before. The whole idea is not without precedent in the United States. There were rumors that if anything had happened to Papa Bush, Dan Quayle his Vice-President would have been shot.
Nigerians love stories of any precedent as long as it supports our views. If we cannot find any, we claim: this is Nigeria leave it or love it. So we are going to have rumors and stories that will work to the advantage of political heavyweights some of these will disparage most of the North as power mongers. Yet we know that the North has diverse people and ideas, some of which are not different from those in most of the South.
The reality is that since our Independence the North has never ruled Nigeria by civilian government, without the support of the South. Sir Tafawa Balewa was ready to be in the opposition until one of the Southern parties proposed to his party. So please let us be clear with our history. If the military governments took a lead from that, we laid the precedent.
Since then, many heroes have come from the North that the South has been comfortable with. If anything, it is evidence of our maturity and trust that we can place any position in the hand of any Nigerian and most of us would sing his praises. Actually, some Northern brothers that have drawn praises from the South are hated in some part of the North.
The bet must be on those who would point out that as the Vice-President, Jonathan is it. We have to be careful, though Jonathan may have come from South-south, it does not guarantee that he will not be controlled by power brokers. In Nigeria, anyone that does or does not do a particular wish may be labeled a puppet. In fact, we labeled Yar’Adua the puppet of Obasanjo for a while.
In the same vein, Obasanjo was hated in the South because he was seen as a puppet of the North. Others voted for him in 1999 as someone who was anointed from the North. As it turned out, Obasanjo disappointed both the North and South. Making a man the President does not mean he is going to fulfill most of your wishes.
Anyone who does not realize this precarious situation in Nigeria today is a fool. So they may grandstand, test the water and spread rumors, they certainly know better. A case in point is that of Obasanjo during the 1999 election. This is a man not loved by his own village not to mention his ethnic group. Even when his ethnic group did not vote for him, all it took to start a riot in Lagos was that he might have been killed. He had to come on television before calm returned, though he could not get a fly to vote for him in Lagos.
Consequently, if any part of the Country thinks they can force anyone on us based solely on his geographical location, they must be brought down from their high horses. The last calamity we need in Nigeria now is another guerrilla war from each of our ethnic groups. The power of the State is mighty but convectional, that is not easily adaptable to clumsy war waged by the militant militia. They have made Nigeria hell, we do not want to unite most of them because of some selfish need to produce the President from a certain location.
Goodluck Jonathan is the Vice President and should President Yar’Adua decides to step down, he must become the President of Nigeria. There is no but or if. The politicians and the god-fathers saw him as someone who could balance the position of the President at the time he was chosen. If he was good then, he must be good now to step into a position defaulted to him according to our constitution.
Making Jonathan the President according to the constitution is only a step in the right direction, making sure he works for both the North and South in the interest of Nigeria must be our wish. But our prayers must go to the present President so that he can recover and spend precious time with his family.