Some fellow Niger Deltans have told me that they are very disappointed in me because I am supporting Buhari’s election bid, rather than Jonathan’s. And it may surprise you to hear that I know how they feel and regret my position!
In 2011, I was one of Jonathan’s biggest fans and could not understand how anyone from our geopolitical zone could fail to enthusiastically back him.
He was the first-ever President from our backyard! He was also the first-ever Nigerian President to enter the Villa with a PhD! He had stoically triumphed over a tough, shoe-less childhood and seemed so caring and trustworthy! He was our One And Only, our Pride And Joy, our Heroic Son, our Beloved Brother!
Whenever I came across someone from Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo or Cross River who criticised Jonathan or expressed a preference for his opponents, I would conclude that he or she was misguided or treacherous…and thank God that most South-South natives were staunch Jonathan loyalists.
And I really enjoyed the esprit de corps…the feeling that one was part of a happy extended family. Some of us knew him personally. Some of us had never met him. But we were all equally dedicated to Jonathan’s political survival and progress; and it was so heart-warming to watch him on TV, doing sophisticated global statesmanly things like hob-nobbing with Obama in the United States. It was exciting to sit with other home boys and girls and cheer him on from afar.
Certain types of certainty provide a certain amount of psychological comfort; and I felt pretty buoyant in those early halcyon days because I didn’t have any major doubts about Dr Goodluck Jonathan. Or his wife, for that matter.
Dame Patience was the first-ever First Lady from my state; and most Riverians were determined to adore her; and I went through a long phase of feeling mightily miffed and flying to her defence whenever her malapropisms, mispronunciations and educational shortcomings in general were mocked.
“Don’t Diss The Dame!” I would say, reproachfully.
“She has never claimed to be a Professor of English!” I would add, defiantly.
“She’s good at mobilising women and much better-looking than her predecessors and Jonathan is damned lucky to have her!” was another favourite utterance.
But I gradually became extremely disillusioned and left the Jonathan camp for various reasons, including Jonathan’s abject failure to control his increasingly overbearing wife…and his selfish refusal to implement the United Nations’ recommendations for pollution-ravaged Ogoniland…and his cold insulting insistence on retaining and honouring Abba Moro – the Minister of Interior who presided over a botched recruitment exercise that led to many deaths.
And these sources of anger are just the tip of the iceberg. There are SO MANY other areas in which the Jonathans have messed up, in my opinion.
I still can’t quite believe that I have totally lost confidence in a couple I once embraced so warmly and once held in such high esteem. And I sometimes shed a tear or two when I remember the good old days.
I really miss that feeling of passionately believing in Jonathan. I wish I could still regard him as a great guy who can fulfil my dreams for Nigeria as a whole and adequately represent minority tribes from oil-producing areas.
I would have loved to stick with Dr and Mrs Jonathan to the bitter end…and to be there with them now, lobbying voters for another four-year term. But my conscience won’t allow me to go down this regionally biased path.
It’s about being rational rather than sentimental.
It’s about growing up to the point where you no longer regard it as a betrayal to make political choices that are not largely based on geography or ethnicity.
Anyway, dear Readers, Major-General Buhari and APC may not be perfect. But they give me a sense of hope and I am convinced that Nigeria needs a change.