By Ochereome Nnanna
Acting President, Goodluck , stands at historyâ€™s crossroads. The road he chooses to travel will make all the difference for him as a historical figure in Nigeria and for Nigeria itself. He is faced with the choice of either charting a new course and laying the foundation for the new Nigeria of our dreams or following the ignominious familiar road which we have travelled in the past.
As Acting President, Jonathan is expected to recharge the engine of the Presidency and get things moving again. On the table before us all are the intractable issues of poor power supply, fuel scarcity and importation, dilapidated federal infrastructure, insecurity, a compromised financial system, the stalled electoral reforms, constitutional amendment and a myriad of others.
Also already around the corner is the challenge of the 2011 (or it is 2010?) general elections which will, once again, test our constitutional democracy.
Jonathan should focus his attention on devising the appropriate strategies to turn the fortunes of the nation around within the little time left for him to prove himself. If it requires the total overhaul of the machinery of the Executive branch and ensuring that the people who man positions must be the right materials and not people chosen on ethnic and sectional considerations he should do it.
He should not allow himself to be hampered by the burden of â€œactingâ€ for Alhaji Umaru Yarâ€™Adua. He should act for Nigeria. His loyalty should be to Nigeria, not Yarâ€™Adua. Whatever is good for Nigeria should be good for Yarâ€™ Adua, whether he returns to office or not, unless he is not a patriot. Nigerians are not going to accept the excuse that Jonathan failed because he functioned to prove his loyalty to Yarâ€™ Adua.
Left to me, it is best if Jonathan concentrates on providing sound and result-oriented governance than engaging in expensive political speculation. He should bear in mind that he is a man of destiny.
Nothing he has achieved in the political arena has been as a result of his power, might, intelligence, popularity, political acumen and connections. Jonathan is not even a very articulate and particularly profound and inspiring person to listen to or watch. But here he is, the first Acting President Nigeria ever produced and the first Niger Deltan to hold the reins of full executive power at the Presidency.
In fact, he is actually the first non-Northerner and South Westerner to occupy the exalted seat of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria since 1966. It is because of the likes of him that the Bible warns that the race is not for the swift, nor victory for the strong
God does things like these to prove his supremacy in the affairs of men. Look at other, more charismatic materials all the way from the day that Diepreye Alamieyeseigha picked Jonathan to be his gubernatorial running mate through to his being chosen as Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s VP over more fancied Dr Peter Odili and Mr Donald Duke.
His kinsman and rival in Bayelsa politics, Chief Timi Alaibe, who is noted for his popularity and political savvy, for all his efforts and plots, has always lost the race while Jonathan won all. That is an object lesson about power and its mysterious appurtenances.
Therefore, Goodluck Jonathan should not focus on politics or even the race to 2011. If he is able to get Nigeria moving again and Nigerians see in him the leader they have always prayed for; and if God has a plan to make him a tenured president of Nigeria, he will become one.
Otherwise, he should at least pilot the affairs of Nigeria and ensure that there is a safe landing by May 29, 2011 if Yarâ€™Adua does not return.
As the Acting President, Jonathan needs all the advice he can get. But he should be able to sift carefully through them all. He should know the people to draw closer to him and those to handle with utmost care.
Two men of interest are Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo and Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark.
Obasanjo picked him as Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s running mate, that is true. However, Jonathan should not make the mistake of handing himself over to Obasanjo to be manipulated because Obasanjo is a political botulism â€“ undiluted poison.
Already, we hear that Chris Uba of Anambra politics is asking his associates to send in their CVs because he has been promised that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) machinery in Anambra State would soon be returned to him, as Obasanjo has bounced back with Jonathanâ€™s presidential ascension.
If Jonathan is going to entangle himself in the politics of 2011 and hopes Obasanjoâ€™s expired machinery will provide him the platform or backing, then he is headed for his waterloo. Obasanjo is an untouchable taboo in the East, West and North, even though he still has many cronies he installed in power around the country.
E. K. Clark prides himself as Ijaw leader.
He well might be. But the other day when former leaders of Nigeria, known as the Eminent Persons Group paid a visit to Acting President Jonathan, Chief Clark, for the first time, was seen among them! Has he become one of the Eminent Persons because an Ijaw man is now leading the nation?
Among all the other members of the Eminent Persons Group, Clark was the only who shot his way to national reckoning through an inter-tribal war (Ijaw-Itshekiri conflicts of the middle 1990s). At a Niger Delta conference in 2001 hosted in Port Harcourt by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), he boasted that he was not a national leader but Ijaw leader.
If care is not taken, Chief Clark stands the risk of reducingÂ Jonathanâ€™s Acting Presidency to a tribal absurdity. We Nigerians donâ€™t want to know which tribe Jonathan comes from, so long as he gives us quality leadership. But Clark is the type of person who will remind us that Jonathan is Ijaw, and the Ijaws are now ruling.
Alhaji Junaid Mohammed, the Kano-based radical politician, in an interview with The Sun last week cautioned against ethnicisation of the Jonathan presidency, and I think it is a wise counsel.
ChiefÂ Clark may be Ijaw leader but Jonathan, in his current position, is the father of the nation. He is no longer one of Clarkâ€™s â€œfollowersâ€. Jonathan should be careful with his dealings with these two problematic elderly men.
The only type of leadership they know is sectional and ethnic domination, which is divisive and inimical to national integration.
A needless brawl
One of the excitements of the open web discussion is that being an unmoderated debate, it affords people the liberty to let off steam their own way. In fact, some have found a way of using the online forums to fight their propaganda wars by mobilising people in their households and offices to orchestrate a particular premeditated viewpoint. Fine.
But it can get very ugly. The reactions to my interview with elder statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amechi pushed in the February 14 issue of Sunday Vanguard entitled: â€œHow the British colonialists empowered the Northâ€ has taken the mould of inter-tribal wars.
The real motive for that interview was to let the present generations of Nigeria realise where we as a nation came from so that we will chart the right course forward. Cease fire, please.