PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan enjoyed, perhaps, the greatest goodwill of any elected president in the history of this country by this time four years ago. Everything was going his way until January 1, 2012 when he sought to remove the subsidy on petroleum products.
The world was going through the “occupy” protests, and the budding opposition, fuelled by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) political camp, tried to orchestrate an “occupy” revolution in Lagos hoping it will catch on nationwide.
It did not quite succeed. The president pegged the new petrol price at 97 Naira. But that was the end of the honeymoon and the beginning of the president’s bruising dates with serial embattlements.
Shortly after this, a seriously crippled Boko Haram made a roaring resurgence and the cult of suicide bombings and manufacturing of improvised explosive devices made their ignoble landfalls in our country. Nigerians were attacked in their churches, mosques, homes, communities, motor parks, police and army barracks as well as prison confinements. It seemed as though the Northern politicians who lost primary elections to GEJ in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were bent on making good their threat to destabilise his government.
Shortly after this, crisis broke out inside the PDP. Some ambitious chieftains from the North who wanted to challenge the president for the party’s ticket were stiff-armed by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the then National Chairman, who felt that President Jonathan, having performed well in office, did not need a divided party on his way to a second term in office. Soon, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) split into two.
Rebel governors of the PDP joined their opposition peers to form a faction under Governor Rotimi Amaechi, while the rest of the PDP governors pitched camp with Governor Jonah Jang. After a brief factionalisation, five of the seven governors of the “New” PDP joined the newly-merged All Progressives Congress (APC). The PDP haemorrhaged profusely as federal and state legislators decamped to the APC.
While that was going on, the Boko Haram insurgents became a multi-national force. They abducted the Chibok school girls in April 2014 and started grabbing territories in the North East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
The Nigerian Army was repeatedly sabotaged by fifth columnists within and outside, forcing the military to conduct series of court martials and purge itself. The President’s efforts to upgrade the equipment of the armed forces to face down the terrorists was maliciously sabotaged by enemies of the nation, and the president had no choice than to dump America and go to Russia to buy arms.
The kaleidoscope of conspiracies, sabotages, internal desertions, rebellions, collusions and fifth-columnism which President Jonathan has experienced in the past four years is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria.
Yet, even more unprecedented is the civility and equanimity with which he handled them all. Jonathan deviated from the normal expectation that when a regime is embattled to the point of going to war to recover lost territories it usually becomes harsh, dictatorial and tampers with civil rights of opponents. Instead, it was under this atmosphere of freedom that four opposition parties and a breakaway faction of the ruling party came together to forge a formidable front that could very well threaten Jonathan’s second term bid.
When the ruling party claims that President Jonathan has performed more than previous presidents put together, it may be riding the crest of hyperbole. But taking the quantum of achievements in various sectors of the economy, such as transport, power, agriculture, education, roads and infrastructure, there is no gainsaying that Jonathan has put in more in five years than any other president.
There is no doubt that the boom of our oil-fed economy gave us more funds than any other president ever got, but we also have to factor in the handiwork of political traducers, without which the nation would truly have made a quantum leap beyond emerging as the largest economy in Africa under GEJ.
In many ways, the regime of Goodluck Jonathan contributed to its own poor perception despite its outstanding performances across the sectors. The President himself admitted that he neglected the importance of the media and failed to invest resources to propagate its own virtues. The same could not be said for the opposition, which has shellacked the regime and ruling party with its withering propaganda. It grabbed a media momentum for General Muhammadu Buhari that is not justified by Buhari’s poor track records as a former head of state.
Though I am more inclined to give the result of the Saturday election result to President Jonathan because he has done well and needs to complete his good work, the election is too close to call. If Buhari wins the election, it will be the first time in our history that a sitting, performing president has been dethroned through a gang-up of regional forces of the North and West against the first elected Minority president of Nigeria.
It will be a momentous dispensational change that will usher in new political overlords who have very little in common ideologically. We may spend the first four years going through expensive power struggles between the various factions that amalgamated into the APC. The main shootout will be between a putative President Muhammadu Buhari and a civilian, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) who will obviously want to prove he is the “National Leader” of the new party in power.
But if President Jonathan wins, it will be a triumph of gentility and civility over conspiracies, sabotage and sectionally-inspired rebellions. The next four years will be smoother and more decisive as he would have learned from his mistakes and purse his place of pride in the history of the nation. Moreover, the battle of succession in 2019 will no longer be between North and South, as both major political parties would likely be sourcing their presidential candidates from the North.
Here is wishing Nigeria FREE, FAIR, CREDIBLE and PEACEFUL elections 2015!