Jonathan’s Saul syndrome By Steve Osuji

jonaIf desperation and divine malady Desperation must be the first rule in hell. There must be an infernal mandate that requires a man who craves something badly to go after his heart’s desire with the ferocity of a wounded lion. Such a man shuns rationality; he tramples, he breaks, he maims and even kills to have his way. A desperate man is utterly irrational, a desperate man is a dangerous fellow, a desperate man is sooner imperiled.

While man would describe this intense and reckless pursuit of one’s desire as desperation, the Holy Scripture presents it as divine affliction or malady. The Bible showcases a typical example in King Saul as recorded in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. The story of King Saul is at once exciting and profound. God raised him from nothing to become the first king of Israel. No sooner did he mount the throne than he rejected the word of God and forgot his humble roots. Not only did God reject him as well, he simply afflicted him with despairing spirit and a mad craving for power. And the rest for King Saul is a chain of crazy reactions.

Saul got so desperate he disguised himself and consulted a medium. He got so desperate he could not wait for the high priest to conduct the rites of burnt offering; he defiled the altar of God. Again, in Saul’s paranoia over power, he pursued David, his anointed successor, through the wilderness seeking to exterminate him.

At the peak of his monarchy Saul became completely devoid of God and His grace. He forgot he was picked up from the lowliest family of the smallest tribe (Benjamin) in Israel. One afternoon, madly intoxicated by his lusting after power, he ordered the execution of 85 prophets. Not satisfied, he saw to the wiping out of the inhabitants of Nob, a city of prophets. Why: because Saul could not imagine power slipping out of his hands.

The persecution of Prof. Jega   Are we having a Saul syndrome in Nigeria today? Well maybe not but there are surely troubling signs. It surely is a mark of utter desperation if billions of naira is being mindlessly frittered away in the quest to remain in power when there is acute hunger in the land. It is particularly so in the persecution and demonization of Prof. Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). An estimated N5 billion must have been disbursed in the past two weeks in what may have been an ‘operation bring Jega down’.

As if Jega has suddenly become the number one enemy of the nation, damaging attacks were unleashed on him on all fronts immediately after the postponement of the elections last February. The campaign was not only ferocious but all the spectra of the media were mobilized – print, electronic and social media.

One counted no fewer than 50-full page adverts – many of them placed on special positions –  in national newspapers between February 11 to March 7, 2014. The adverts are largely a caricature of Prof. Jega denigrating him, throwing at him, serious allegations of ethnicity, electoral fraud, embezzlement and incompetence. The overall objective is obviously to damage his credibility completely and perhaps force him to resign in ignominy. These horrid adverts are ‘powered’ by Goodluck Lagos Grassroot Project and each one of them bears the photograph of President Goodluck Jonathan. There is therefore, no mistaking who is the brain behind those anti-Jega adverts.

Failed elders in need of rehab Another expensive strategy adopted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the presidency to hound Jega out of office has been to mobilize people who are supposedly elders and leaders to castigate Jega in public. The pattern is to accuse him of incompetence and even allege bias against him. Some of the names that have been corralled into the scheme include Chief Edwin Clark, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Bode George, Walter Ofonagoro, Femi Okunroumu, Prof. ABC Nwosu, MASSOB chieftain, Ralph Uwazurike and OPC leaders Gani Adams and Fredrick Fasehun, to name a few.

These men at every opportunity in radio, television or newspaper interviews castigate Jega and the modalities for conducting the next elections. Most critical and troubling is that not one of these men spoke out of conviction. Some samples: In the Sunday Vanguard of February 22 Chief Clark said in an elaborate interview that: “Jega should go. We believe he should go not only because of inefficiency; we believe he is working with some northern leaders to declare a northern presidential candidate the winner of the March 28 election, that’s Buhari.”

On the same day, in another newspaper, The Sun, Ezeife in a 3-page interview which was highlighted boldly on the front page thus: “No election until Jega quits”, he said: “…Jega has been compromised that his continued stay there is not morally wise. He should be honorable enough to resign and safe the nation this confusion.”

Another national newspaper had an interview with Bode George titled: “Jega is a public jester – Bode George” It was as if one script was being syndicated through a group of failed elderly men needing economic rehabilitation. It is always a sad spectacle when our elders a re ‘roused’ into acting irrationally.

Then there was a barrage of negative editorial barbs in the forms of analyses, opinion commentaries and advertorials. Some more samples: “Jega’s electoral burden” is a two-page political ‘analysis’ in one national paper. You would think Jega had suddenly become a presidential candidate running against President Jonathan after reading such a piece.

On the internet, in radio and television talk shows, no cost has been spared on what seems like operation uproot Jega or damage the electoral process. Yes, an estimated N5billion must have been dissipated ‘fighting’ Jega at a time many Nigerians are feeling severe pangs of hunger.

Brimming with bad faith First the PDP claimed that INEC was not ready and they forced a postponement. Next they tried to remove Jega by force; that did not work and they descended on the Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC). They condemned it and canvass that we revert to the Temporary voters’ card. That too failed. Now they are raising hoopla about the card readers. To reinforce its desperation, PDP has connived to push the belated registration of a new party by the apt name: Young Democratic Party (YDP). You may call it ‘bomboy’, a veritable instrument of perfidy.

In all of this, PDP and the president are brimming with bad faith. They want to win by all means or they plunge our dear country into a deluge. PDP is in scorch earth mode; it is behaving like the bad rat in our fathers’ timeless words that would not eat a certain grain yet would rather waste it.

But we can only take solace in the fact that what God has decreed, no man can undo. PDP by all its actions is already practising to be an opposition party. Its time is up and it had better chosen a graceful exit by conducting a good election. I commend the story of King Saul to President Jonathan and his excited team members.

NATION