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Mr. President: Time To Say Yes Or No!

IT is impossible for President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan to claim ignorance of the comedy that is being staged  presumably on his behalf. Almost daily, one group or the other begs him to run for the 2011 elections.

Things get ridiculous in some instances. A women’s group threatened its members would  with hold their marital obligations from their husbands (what is the men’s offence?) if President Jonathan refuses to join the race. The President has not said a word, and we have no idea what is going on in those homes.

We think Nigeria is too blighted, buffeted, burdened and battered that whoever wants to be the President needs to be persuaded by higher passions than pleasing some groups whose interests are simply parochial.

Nothing in these pressures is new. Seventeen years ago, the Association for Better Nigeria, ABN, asked President Ibrahim Babangida not to leave office. It did many things, including filing a case in court to stop the 1993 presidential election though the electoral decree had stated that no court could stop the election.

Years down the line, YEAA, Youths Earnestly Asking for Abacha took over. It staged its million man match to persuade General Sani Abacha to contest office as civilian president. Abacha had not made up his mind when he died.

There is nothing difficult about deciding whether to run for office or not. President Goodluck should understand that his indecision is pilling loads of pressure on the country and making governance, impossible even for him. Why can he not arrive at an answer?

He is running out of excuses. He is in the best position to tell Nigerians if he is running. In case he does not  want to run, he could also explain his decision to those  who are running on his behalf.

Whichever decision he takes, he would  hurt some parties. However, he has to realise Nigerians would  want an end to the current charade. He is the only one who can halt it.

It is no longer enough to say that those who want him to run have a right to express themselves. Those groups, some of which are going to ridiculous ends to justify President Jonathan joining the race, would not be the ones to decide for him.

There are too many reasons for the President to take a stand now. His party’s primaries are round the corner, though no dates have been fixed. We make the deduction from the new Electoral Act which has elections for January 2011 – only five months away.

The President, if he is running, would have to canvass for votes from delegates and set up campaign structures for the main election. When would he do these if by now he cannot indicate his interest in the race?

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo made his interest in a second term public, almost a year to the election.

President Goodluck got into office under unique circumstances. So much has happened since the demise of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua last May. However, it is agreed that the country must go on. Nigeria needs a President for these times when reconciliations and improving the conditions of the Nigerian have become more pressing almost choking any other considerations.

Nigerians need a president who can meet these expectations. They have to know the candidates in order to cast their votes meaningfully, particularly as they expect votes would count this time.

For someone who tends to lean heavily on transparency, President Jonathan’s example in this instance is disturbing. He should tell Nigerians where he stands, without further delay.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.