There comes a time in the life of every nation (and every individual) when there remains what the statisticians call the Bernulli Trial – a situation where you are left with only two choices: submit and go down or struggle and come up. That time has indeed come to us as a nation and a people. Fortunately, we are not the submitting type. Rather, we are going to struggle and strive with our votes to effect the change that is so necessary now to move the nation forward. No campaign has ever been this acrimonious in the history of Nigeria as this year’s. It shouldn’t be so as, at the end of the day, it is not about Jonathan or Buhari; it is about Nigeria.
Nigeria is the anchor nation of the black race. Every African is proud of Nigeria but most Nigerians are so negative about their country, partly out of frustration with the system and partly due to unrealized expectations. Every nation goes through challenges before emerging as a great entity. But what we all must never forget is that no one is coming to build our country for us. It is our duty to build our country. Nigerians are a proud people and we do not suffer any inferiority anywhere in the world. In all our endeavours, we must remember that it is about Nigeria, indeed about Africa, our motherland. When rain falls, it does not discriminate on grounds of religion or tribe. It falls everywhere because nature does not discriminate. When there is poverty, it affects us equally. It affects us as human beings, as Nigerians.
More than anyone among the contestants, President Jonathan has the greatest stake, since he is the incumbent president. When he got elected as president for the first time in his personal capacity as Jonathan in 2011, it was based on trust. Now it has to be based on performance, based on his records as president for the past five years. It is not about promises anymore. It is about what he has done so far to warrant some more years. Unfortunately, most of the people of Nigeria and indeed across the world have come to the conclusion that his performance as president has not been impressive. Instead of convincing us and showcasing his records, his handlers started saying that he “must” do more years; he is being opposed because he is “minority”; and they launched other personal attacks against his main challenger, Gen. Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, President Jonathan must know that he is not the first Christian, southerner, or “minority” to occupy this office. The first prime minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was from a minority ethnic group, Gerawa in Bauchi State. He was backed by those now referred to as “born to rule”, and no one made any reference to his ethnic identity. He was one of the greatest African leaders and no doubt a founding father of modern Nigeria. He is still respected and remembered with admiration.
Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who had the longest single tenure as head of state in Nigerian history, is also from a minority ethnic group, Angas in Plateau State. The whole country rallied round him which enabled him to fight for the unity of Nigeria when an aggrieved section wanted to secede. As a soldier he was courageous; as a leader he has been just and fair to all; and he is still one of the most respected Nigerian leaders of all time. No one made any reference to his religious or ethnic identity and he does not suffer any complex of so-called majority/ minority dichotomy.
Jonathan is not the first southerner or Christian to occupy that position either. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first president of Nigeria. He is still respected and admired by all. Gen. Ironsi was the first military ruler of Nigeria. Gen Olusegun Obasanjo became the first Nigerian head of state to voluntarily hand over power voluntarily. He also got elected democratically for two terms, from 1999 to 2007. Chief Ernest Shonekan was head of the Interim National Government sequel to the crisis of the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election. All these leaders are from the south. They consider themselves and are regarded by all Nigerians as national leaders. They never advertised their “southern-ness”.
Ordinary Nigerians are even more integrated than the elite. There have been inter-marriages; strong vertical and horizontal business, cultural and intimate socio-political linkages between and among ordinary Nigerians. That was why Abiola could defeat Tofa, who is from Kano, in Kano in 1993. That was why Obasanjo could be elected president for eight years, and that was why Jonathan got elected in 2011. But, since then, he and the people around him have strived not to make him president for all. He has portrayed himself as sectional and not national, allowing himself to be hijacked by vested interests.
Everyone knows that the Nigerian economy and geography has been very complementary between the northern and southern parts of the country. There is no part of Nigeria or any Nigerian that is useless. This country belongs to all of us and we must strive to respect and recognize each other. After all, we are all human beings; we are all Africans; and we are all Nigerians. And this election, more than any, is about Nigeria, her current needs and future hopes.
Clearly, last Wednesday’s hasty decision by the Jonathan administration to begin implementing the report of last year’s “national” conference of unelected and lopsided government-appointed delegates is impulsive, indecent and very opportunistic. Deep down, the president has no interest in the conference, not to talk of its mostly weak, contradictory and self-serving resolutions. He just wants to make political capital out of a conference that satisfies no one and meets no expectations of even its conveners.
“Nor, given his temperament, inattentiveness to details, proven lack of patriotism, and his sectional and provincial worldview,” wrote Idowu Akinlotan in the Sunday Nation newspaper of March 22, “is it clear how Dr Jonathan hopes to overcome his notorious habit of breaking promises to keep a promise not anchored on either patriotic or philosophical conviction… Except they tell themselves a hopeless lie, they know, as indeed the rest of the world, that Dr Jonathan, should he win the poll, is unlikely to perform better than he has done. Not needing re-election after 2015, he would bare his fangs, subvert values and sound principles… and break every promise he has made.
“After the Chibok abductions, the world became sick and tired of Dr Jonathan, and in diplomatic and polite circles they speak of his legacies and his government in idioms and proverbs, describing him as an exasperating failure that cannot be redeemed by either re-election or rehabilitation. Opinion of him abroad is universally poor, whether among foreigners or Nigerians. Even in Africa, there is not one country where Nigeria is respected, thanks to Dr Jonathan whose style, speech, and actions have consigned the country to the dustbin. The world has made up its mind that it would indeed be tragic for Dr Jonathan to be returned to office, for they are sure nothing inspiring can come from him, no matter how long he postpones the election.”
President Jonathan has refused to deal with corruption and is surrounded by, in his own words, incompetent people who give him wrong advice. These are the reasons why a majority of the people are not happy with him and are set to vote him out. This is not about north or south, Christian or Muslim, minority or majority; it is about Nigeria.
After all, history is on the side of the oppressed.