When last did you sit back to imagine another four years of a Jonathan presidency? Better still, how would it be if Nigerians were doomed to be marking
a second one hundred days of Goodluck Jonathan? Well, I have! And, the more the imagination and similar doomsday scenarios race by, the more my belief in and, respect for Nigeria and her wonderful people soar. The general election last March proved Nigerians know when to stop a handshake that is extending beyond the elbow.
In every respect, Mr. Jonathan’s handshake was extending beyond the elbow. So, the choice before Nigerian last March was to throw out his patently incompetent and corrupt government! Or, risk another four hellish years in the pits! To do this, however, Nigerians needed to call the bluff of marauding, black-faced Jonathan-or-war-chanting vultures and their intellectually bankrupt backers. A cheeky, sadistic lot, you would agree! Nigerians opted to call the bluff of warmongers.
And the former president tried to play down his loss when. Before anyone could scream sore loser, Mr. Jonathan brashly claimed, on the eve of his departure that he was yet to see a luckier Nigerian! Oh boy! May be it was Mr. Jonathan’s unusual good luck that virtually emptied the till in pursuit of a failed re-election bid! Perhaps, it was luck that also blinded the former president to the hate language employed by his wife and close aides during and after the campaigns!
It may not matter much now but if he was not the poor student of history he has been all along, Mr. Jonathan should know that most people would rather they are assessed based on competence! Not so for the former president. Sadly, his legendary luck, fuelled by Dutch courage, polarized and pushed Nigeria to the edge. The six years Mr. Jonathan executed the executive presidency elevated impunity to an art, glorified corruption and projected Nigerians as unserious people. He may not know it but Mr. Jonathan’s performance in office affirmed the limitation of luck in the affairs of men.
Still, there is no discounting luck in the affairs of men! This is why, since independence, lucky but ill-prepared people always found themselves in strategic positions. Unfortunately, this has been the metaphor as well as the tragedy of a country because the emergence of luck-laden leaders has been at the heart of the many problems with Nigeria. The Buhari/Osinbajo administration represents a radical departure from the norm.
At independence in October, 1960, the man who should have been prime minister and head of government, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardaunan Sokoto, opted to govern the north and ceded the bigger throne to late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Give this to Sir Ahmadu Bello: the obvious sign that he prepared himself for leadership role manifested in the indelible and enduring achievements he posted as premier of the defunct Northern Region. The trend continued with the return to civilian rule in October, 1979 after thirteen years of military interregnum.
President Shehu Shagari who ruled between 1979 and 1983 was a reluctant commander in chief! In his own words, the Turakin Sokoto, a dove among the political hawks of the Second republic confessed he was prevailed upon to drop his senatorial ambition for the presidency by colleagues in the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN. Then, in 1993, Nigerians were denied the opportunity to bid farewell to poverty when Alhaji Moshood Abiola had his victory cancelled. Before he join the political fray, the late Moshood Abiola, had forsaken campaign podiums and only showed interest after the death of his first wife, Simbiat Abiola. Chief Abiola never prepared himself for the top job of president which he won and was denied.
The return to democratic rule in 1999 brought General Olusegun Obasanjo in his ill-prepared second coming. Not much was expected from a man who left a jail-house to assume the presidency, anyway! General Obasanjo’s hand-picked successor, the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, was terminally ill at the time he assumed office. In fact, Yar’adua’s choice was a surprise to straight-thinking Nigerians who reasoned that he deserved a break from politics after serving as governor for eight years rather than being saddled with the task of leading the nation. Clearly, the welfare of Nigerians never ranked high on the agenda of Chief Obasanjo when he paired Mr. Jonathan with a terminally ill principal.
As well as being a lucky man, Mr. Jonathan, is truly an interesting character! His political profile received a boost when he caught the attention of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. That was after Mr. Jonathan played okro mouth on his larcenous boss in Bayelsa state. In a matter of months, ‘lucky’ Goodluck moved rapidly from being deputy governor to substantive governor then vice president before he picked the big prize at the expiration of Mallam Umaru Musa Yar’adua. Jonathan’s luck deserted him last March when he lost his re-election bid!
It was imperative for Mr. Jonathan to go at the time he was voted out. Otherwise, the former president and his highly-visible wife, Patience, would eventually have pushed Nigeria to breaking point! He may be a dotting husband and father but to most Nigerians, Mr. Jonathan should not have been more than a benchwarmer in the local politics of the Niger Delta. Judged by the way he turned the blind eye to the excesses of his henchmen (and women), it was clear Mr. Jonathan was simply overwhelmed and befuddled by demands of the presidency. Curiously, his education failed him as he proved unable or incapable of even learning on the job.
Mr. Jonathan may consider his defeat last March a personal loss. What else did he expect by surrounding himself with kowtowing publicists who fed him with fairytales of a landslide victory? But his personal loss should worry Nigerians too. For instance: Why, on earth, should Nigerians pick the bill for stolen public funds to oil the most expensive campaign in the history of Nigeria? Should we, in all sincerity, allow stolen millions to be written off simply because someone somewhere thinks the former president is a hero and should get a soft landing? Tell me: For how long should Nigerians suffer for the misadventure of misfits in government?
Are these valid questions?
Abdulrazaq Magaji is based in Abuja and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; (234-805-138-0793)