By Donu Kogbara
Last week, I said on this page that Boko Haram’s murderous sprees and heartless kidnappings have made Northern Muslims look bad and have strengthened President Jonathan’s chances of being re-elected next year.
Some Vanguard readers have contacted me to say that while they share my view that Boko Haram has seriously undermined the image and electability of Islamic politicians from its birthplace, they totally disagree with my conclusion.
On reflection, these semi-critics have a point.
It is true that many Southerners (including Yoruba/Edo Muslims) and many Northern Christians – who were once willing to vote for any apparently credible Northern Muslim who presented himself as a presidential candidate – are now determined to vote for Jonathan instead, even if they don’t think that Jonathan is doing a good job, purely because of the Boko Haram factor.
However, it is also true that many Northern Muslims who voted for Jonathan in 2011 now hate him with a burning passion because they say that his body language indicates that he is about to break a promise to only serve one term.
In other words, if the public mood doesn’t change much or at all between now and February 2015 – and if the APC presents a Northern Muslim as its flag-bearer and if Jonathan decides to seek a second term – Jonathan will do very well in the South and get plenty of Northern Christian votes as well. BUT he will also be totally shunned by the majority of core Northerners.
In other words, I was wrong to categorically state that Jonathan’s chances of being re-elected have been significantly strengthened by Boko Haram.
It boils down to simple maths. Even if Jonathan wins most of the South, plus a few Christian Middle Belt enclaves, he will still lose most of the North.
Meanwhile, even if a Northern Muslim candidate wins most of the North plus a few Muslim Middle Belt enclaves, he will still lose most of the South.
In other words, if Jonathan winds up running against a Northern Muslim opponent, it will be very difficult for either of them to gain nationwide support; and I’m now convinced that a stalemate scenario is the most likely outcome.
There are a number of ways in which an inconclusive result (that will probably lead to massive disruptions and toxic blood-soaked fights) can be avoided:-
*Goodluck Jonathan can up his game BIG-TIME and become the satisfactory leader I know he can be if he REALLY tries to fulfil his potential…and stops dithering cluelessly…and stops kow-towing to the lowest common denominator…and makes some thrillingly courageous moves in the near future that will persuade Nigerians from ALL walks of life and ALL geopolitical zones to forgive his mistakes and revere/thank him.
*If Jonathan complacently refuses to become the Very Special Man that God intended him to become when he gifted him massive good luck and golden opportunities, the PDP can ditch him and find another flag-bearer who is more asset than liability and can conclusively win an election.
*One or both of the main parties – PDP and APC – can forget about choosing flag-bearers who come from extreme ends of the ethnic/religious spectrum and have lots of negative baggage attached to them…and go for uncontroversial middle-of-the-road candidates who have credible track records and will be acceptable across the board.
*If another South-South person is selected to replace Jonathan, Niger Delta militants might quit the temptation to throw tantrums, sabotage oil pipelines and wage war against the Nigerian government. But it is also possible that a decent Igbo or Northern Christian will be widely accepted.
Many people have told me that they would love a President like Fashola, the dynamic Lagos State Governor. But most Nigerians are not yet, in my opinion, sophisticated, detribalised or cerebral enough, to enable another Yoruba to sit in the top seat so soon after Olusegun Obasanjo vacated it.
OK, so what next?
Frankly, my dears, I don’t have a clue! I dey siddon look like the rest of you, wondering what the next episode will be. Only God knows where we are heading.
Some of the regular and senior folks who have discussed the status quo with me strongly suspect that Jonathan’s position is untenable…and that the run-up to the election will be so violent and anarchical that the army will take over.
Others reckon that there will be no election…or that Jonathan will surprise legions of sceptics and secure another term without any huge hassles.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the upcoming “democratic” exercise may be, I yearn for MUCH better governance that will enable Nigeria to DRASTICALLY improve its global reputation and be dragged into the twenty-first century on every imaginable level, so that every single citizen can prosper and be proud.