Who is Afraid of Goodluck Jonathan? (1), By Femi Aribisala
Some people say Goodluck Jonathan is “clueless.” They would also have us believe he is a weak president. If so, how come his opponents are greatly afraid of him? People are not inclined to fear weaklings. Therefore it is telling that Goodluck Jonathan must be the most feared Head of State in the history of Nigeria.
Since he was thrown up as president by divine providence, Jonathan has elicited the most vociferous opposition ever. Every trick in the book has been thrown at him to stop him from becoming president and from continuing to be president. At every turn, this has failed woefully. The evidence indicates that the opposition is convinced that Jonathan is unstoppable at the polls. Therefore, the emphasis has been directed more at preventing him from running for president and at frustrating his rule than at defeating him at the 2015 election.
Jonathan fought the 2011 election with a mystic that completely overwhelmed the opposition. A cabal from the North insisted another Northerner must complete Yar’Adua’s term of office. In the process, they turned the election into a regional contest. A clique in the PDP decided to shortlist and select a Northern opponent against Jonathan, convinced that his defeat would be a foregone conclusion.
They rejected a former president, Ibrahim Babangida, and chose Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president no less, and heir of the much-vaunted PDM political machinery of the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; to apply the knock-out punches to Jonathan in the PDP presidential primaries of 2011. But surprise surprise, the election was not even close. Jonathan not only defeated Atiku, he practically eviscerated the man.
Thereafter, the hope of the Northern cabal fell to another regional champion, Mohammadu Buhari. On paper, Jonathan was no match for Buhari. Buhari was much better known and much better hyped. He had been Head of State some 30 years earlier, and had refused to leave the political scene thereafter. He fought the election for the presidency twice and lost twice. Then he had to face Jonathan, allegedly a “greenhorn.”
Again, the election was not close. Jonathan dismantled Buhari with a plurality of over 10 million votes. He even obtained 8 million votes in the North, to Buhari’s 12 million. Then he practically cleaned up in the South. From then on, the fear of Jonathan became the political wisdom of the cabal. This has manifested in a number of shenanigans in the past four years. However, the outcome of these has only been to strengthen Jonathan’s position as he proceeds to go to the electorate again in 2015 to seek a second-term in office.
Having lost the PDP primaries ignominiously to Jonathan, Atiku became a prophet of doom. He said: “those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.” Of course, the only change that is peaceful is the one whereby Jonathan either foregoes re-election or is defeated at the polls. A Jonathan victory was, in the logic of Atiku, an invitation to violent change.
But one needs to ask the former vice-president this question: “Would the proposed violent change spare prophet Atiku, who was vice-president for eight years and who is alleged to have cornered juicy public companies from his vantage point as head of the privatization program under Obasanjo?” Perceptions are sometimes more important than reality. Therefore, violent change would also have Atiku as one of its primary targets.
For his part, the threats of Muhammadu Buhari during the 2011 election campaign led to widespread violence by his supporters in the North after he lost. They went on a rampage; looting and killing; in spite of the fact that, by all accounts, the elections were adjudged the most free and fair in the history of Nigeria’s current democratic experiment. By the time the mayhem had subsided, over 1000 people had been slaughtered in cold blood, including innocent National Youth Service Corp members, and some 65,000 Nigerians became displaced.
Undaunted, Buhari went on to declare in a statement made pointedly in Hausa in a BBC interview that: “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.”
Having realised that by some political alchemy, Goodluck Jonathan is impregnable at the polls, the strategy of his opponents has been to insist that he cannot seek re-election, instead of making concrete plans about how to defeat him at the polls. The Niger State governor, Babngida Aliyu, suddenly came up with the allegation that Jonathan had earlier signed an agreement with some governors in 2011 that he would not seek re-election but would only serve for one term; after which the PDP presidential candidacy would be zoned to the North.
This was curious at best. Northerners had ruled the country for long stretches of 38 out of 54 years; at no time were any of them required to sign term-limit agreements. But now that it was the turn of a South-South president, we were meant to believe such an agreement was extracted from him by Northern governors. In any case, where exactly was this agreement? If it existed, then it should be published for all to see.
However, Aliyu and his cohorts could not produce the alleged document, leading to the conclusion that it was nothing more than another ruse. The president’s men were unequivocal in maintaining that Jonathan signed no such agreement. Even if he did, everyone knows that there is no honour among Nigerian politicians. Therefore, that gambit also turned out to be a waste of time.
The next strategy was to contest Jonathan’s eligibility to seek re-election in the courts; on the grounds that he has been president for two terms already. This strategy failed woefully. Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi ruled from the FCT that Jonathan’s assumption of office after the untimely death of President Yar’Adua fell under the National Assembly’s doctrine of necessity. The Constitution stated that no man could be elected president more than twice for a total of eight years. But Jonathan has only been elected president once.
Justice Oniyangi said: “After the death of Umaru Yar’adua, there was no election or by-election, President Jonathan was merely asked to assume the office of the President in line with the doctrine of necessity. He was not elected as the President but was made to assume office by virtue of Yar’adua’s death. Having exhausted the late President’s tenure, he sought for his party’s ticket and ran for the office of the President successfully in the 2011 general elections. He is therefore currently serving his first tenure of office, and if he so wishes he is eligible to further seek his party’s ticket through the party’s primary election and to run for office in 2015.”
This called for yet another strategy, therefore the opposition decided to employ fire and brimstone. Lawal Kaita, now of the opposition APC, said: “We will make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan.” The objective remained the same. These people knew they could not defeat Jonathan at the polls; therefore their primary assignment was to prevent him from running for re-election.
Junaid Mohammed fired one of the early salvos. He said: “Quote me, if Jonathan insists on running, there will be bloodshed and those who feel short-changed may take the warpath.”
Senator Joseph Waku of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) followed suit: “President Jonathan should not even contemplate making any move to contest the 2015 election because such will be catastrophic.” Murtala Nyako, the former governor of Adamawa, echoed this, saying: “we must stop President Goodluck Jonathan’s attempt to go for second term, as that will lead to civil war.”
What has happened to Waku’s catastrophe and Nyako’s civil war? These were all vain threats. Who did Nyako have in mind to fight his civil war for him? Since making these threats, Nyako has been ignominiously removed as governor of Adamawa State. Nobody shed any crocodile tears for him. On the other hand, his nemesis, Goodluck Jonathan has declared that he is running for second term and there has not been a riot, not to talk of civil war. As a matter of fact, he has been endorsed as the sole candidate of the PDP.
Preparing for defeat
This means back to the drawing-board for the APC. Since they now know they cannot stop Jonathan from contesting, they have started planning for their anticipated defeat at the polls. Their position is simple. If Jonathan wins, then they would claim the election was rigged. That would be grounds for bringing out the thugs and area boys to kill, steal and destroy.
Thus, the APC started accusing the PDP of rigging an election that has yet to take place. In a speech made during Buhari’s declaration of his fourth bid for the presidency, Rotimi Amaechi said: “We will punish these people… They are banking on using security against us. We shall teach them lesson. We will fight with our body, with our lives because there must be change this time.”
At the APC’s so-called Salvation Rally, Amaechi declared that the APC will form a parallel government if the 2015 election is rigged. This is disingenuous because everyone knows that the only way the APC will not insist the election is rigged is if it wins. Every election that the APC has won has been free and fair; but every election it has lost has been rigged. In effect, the APC is already threatening treasonable felony if it loses the forthcoming presidential election.
Queried about this stand, Lai Mohammed, the Publicity Secretary of the APC said that has been the stand of the APC since the Osun State gubernatorial election. In which case, had APC lost Osun it would have decided to create mayhem. Lai Mohammed declared: “Let us remind the presidency, in case it has forgotten, that election fraud triggered a civil war in Algeria in the early 1990s, led to the killing of over 1,000 people in post-election riots in Kenya in 2007/2008 and fired a near revolution in Iran in 2009/2010.”
(TO BE CONTINUED)