Saving Jonathan from Obasanjo

2010-05-10
THE SUN Newspaper-Uche Ezechukwu

Last week, President Olusegun Obasanjo scored another bull’s eye in his penchant for upsetting Nigerians when he declared that even Jesus Christ would be incapable of organizing a good election in Nigeria. A deeper contemplation of that statement would suggest that judging from Obasanjo’s natural penchant for omniscience, and as such that he is the only person alive who is capable of doing things right, it is obvious that for Christ to have the ability to save our electoral system, He needs to take lessons from Obasanjo.

If any other person had made that statement, it would have been allowed to pass as an innocent metaphor. But because of OBJ’s inclination at self-deification, and thus, the feeling that he seems to be beyond redemption from his self-delusion of grandeur, he was roundly carpeted. However, I wondered why our religious clerics who declared that he needs deliverance, should not have occupied themselves with things that are more germane to our survival as a people.
For me, the more urgent thing would be for all the people of goodwill to rescue our country and the new president from the impact and influence of the last chapters of the diabolical script which Obasanjo had written for our collective ruin because we had disallowed him from ruling us for life. Hence, in these confused days following the harrowing experience of President Yar’Adua’s last days and death, we should exercise extreme vigilance to ensure that Obasanjo does not succeed in this next phase of his well-mapped out designs.
First, he had enthroned the late president, fully aware of his health situation and that the man had remained alive for full three years into his tenure was a miracle as well as a manifestation of God’s love for us all. It was that good fortune that had also stabilized Nigeria well enough before the swearing in of the brand new president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, last Thursday.

It was that same good fortune that had allowed us the acting presidency interregnum which buffered us from the full impact of Obasanjo’s machinations and provided us with ample inkling into the remaining aspects of that script, which is the undisguised attempt to hijack and confuse Jonathan’s presidency at the expense of national stability. It is obvious that when that attempt was discovered and loud alarms were raised, immediate steps were taken to staunch it.
It was in that spirit that eminent and powerful patriots in the hue of Generals Theophilus Danjuma and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, Alhaji MD Yusuf, among others who are capable of checkmating OBJ, had come on stream both to stabilize Goodluck Jonathan as well as to keep Obasanjo at bay. Those and other Nigerians of goodwill have done a good job at the project, but there are those who insist that the danger is not yet completely over.
There are persisting allegations that President Jonathan is being lured into swallowing some of the poison pills which are being dropped on his table, especially as they involve suggestions from some self-serving quarters that could scuttle the important elements of the national stability that have systematically returning with democracy. In recent times, the national space is being inundated with the news that there are tantalizing suggestions to President Jonathan to run for the highest office in the land, next year.

Accordingly, it is also being suggested or being worked out for him that the best way he could achieve such a mouth-watering ambition would be to pull down the foundations of the political structure that had housed his political fortunes this far. That is the light in which many astute observers are seeing the current travails of the PDP national chairman, Sir Vincent Ogbulafor, through frenzied and well-funded efforts to upstage and jail him in the process.
While there cannot be anything wrong with harbouring political ambitions, people of integrity always do so by sticking to principles and by never wishing to move the goalposts in the middle of the game. Rather, it is people with political bad manners who harbour no such qualms as evidenced in OBJ’s recent lie that there is no zoning formula in the PDP. Even though the president has announced that he is not thinking of such things for now, it takes the spirit of God and superhuman efforts to resist the corruptive power of political ambitions.
While it is not for anybody to decide for him, but it would have made better sense and a great statesman of him, if Jonathan had stuck to actualizing those landmark goals he has set for himself in this one year. If indeed, he succeeds in enthroning a credible electoral system for Nigeria, his name would be written in gold, as he would instantly become the greatest leader in Africa, just in one year. He would definitely get a Nobel Prize and become a pride to the people of his generation.

But should he swallow Obasanjo’s bait, it would be akin to swallowing political hemlock and he might go down in the annals of politics as the man who brought back an intractable disharmony into our body politic. The reason is this: for President Jonathan to run under the PDP in 2011, he would have destroyed the zoning formula of his party which reserves the slot for the North for one more term. One might disagree with the zoning doctrine, but if that is what the group to which he belongs had voluntarily accepted, it is incumbent on all, especially on Jonathan, to act within its confines. However, if he is irked, as many of Nigerians are, against the zoning policy, then he should step out of the PDP, form or join another party and contest from there. That is what they call ‘principle’; to do otherwise would be perfidious.
President Jonathan should resist any attempts to imitate or be dictated to by Obasanjo, as so doing would instantly turn Nigerians and their institutions against him, no matter what his self-aggrandizing advisers are telling him to the contrary. Nigerians might not be that hot over PDP, but most are more disgusted by lack of principles. More fundamentally, Jonathan must discountenance armchair and textbook suggestions to the effect that ‘the powers at the disposal of the president are enormous’, and as such, he could do or undo. The truth as dictated by the realities of Nigerian realpolitik is that such ‘enormous powers’ in democracy is wielded only though consensus; for Jonathan to think that he can wield enough powers – judging from where he comes – as to enable him upturn the entrenched political applecart in the PDP is an illusion.

Our dear new president should not allow Obasanjo to be his teacher. Jonathan, like Obasanjo, knows that the zoning policy of his party was democratically agreed upon at an expanded caucus of the PDP and Obasanjo was there. In fact, I have it on good authority that in a vote on the issue, it passed with over 70 votes as against one vote, and with just three abstentions. Some have been arguing that it is on those principled parameters that the PDP chairman had ‘run his mouth’ when he declared that the presidential ticket of his party belongs to the North, as it indeed does. If it is for that truth that he is being suddenly dragged to court for an offence he allegedly committed in 2004, then even though it is right to punish his alleged crime, it is patently wrong to do so for wrong motives.

It is also not good that unprincipled things are being done in the name of our president, especially as there are suggestions in important quarters that ‘as one finger is pointing in the direction of the accused, three others might be ominously pointing at the direction of the accusers…’ Let the right things be done to save Nigeria from further unnecessary dislocations. One of such right things is to reserve the presidential slot of the PDP to the North in 2011. Let their political juggernauts fight and die for it, if they must!
If President Jonathan carries through his pledge to let every vote count in 2011, there is even no certainty that PDP would make any good showing, judging from the widespread negative sentiments towards it. So, why destabilize the country over a party that is obviously not a darling of the electorate? President Jonathan, and indeed, every other Nigerian has a right to run for any post, but principle and good breeding demand that we all play according to the rules. The president should use the solemn occasion of this mourning period to mediate on these well-intentioned and simple views.
May the Almighty God keep and preserve the gentle soul of our departed president.


 

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