It is imperative that Nigerians see Jonathan’s presidential  aspiration in the April 2011 elections as a national project that goes beyond party politics, ethnic and religious affiliations. Already it is clear from the result of PDP presidential primary election that those who tried to use these primordial sentiments to divide us have failed.

His aspiration must be made a mass movement because this country requires a paradigm shift; a complete break from the past; a past riddled with un_mitigated corruption and sometimes smeared with the blood of the innocent murdered in pursuit of hegemonic and sectional power. President Jonathan in my opinion represents that paradigm shift.

Electing Jonathan in April will show the world that Nigerians are now prepared to build a nation out of this entity, which Lord Lugard put together in 1914 for the sole benefit of her majesty’s government in London without seeking the opinion of the citizens. Some people have insisted that this was ill_advised and ill_conceived and therefore a mistake.

But with honest and dedicated commitment to nation building and love for one another this mistake could be turned into one of the greatest nations on earth and a pride to the black race.

This honesty of purpose is what we lack. Since independence we have continued to allow primordial sentiments to becloud our sense of judgment when it comes to leadership selection, there was indeed when a section of the country even thought leadership was its divine right. We have always ended up with the “third eleven” in our political matches; not only at the federal level but even at the state and local government levels.

Currently, some states in the country are like plantations captured by robbers with unmitigated plundering going on. Aristotle said every society is governed by its best brains but we are ruled by our worst.

This is what has led us to our current deplorable situation: 75% unemployment rate among young graduates, the complete decay of infrastructure, including near absence of a rail system with all its adverse consequences; a power system that until recently only generated darkness, a manufacturing sector that produces virtually nothing, a country that has become a dumping ground and a global warehouse for foreign goods, a completely deprived population, mass poverty in the midst of huge resources, a fractured society, in which citizens are regarded as settlers and non_indigenes even where they were born, resulting in the unnecessary carnage in Jos, the poverty and ignorance driven Boko Haram crisis in Borno State, the most expensive and corrupt political governance system in the world, the list goes on and on.

This is the result of a long period of inept leadership. Even the civil war was fought because of inept leadership of Generals Ironsi and Gowon. Ironsi instead of applying the law as it is against treason preferred to make excuses why he couldn’t, when a group of misguided officers eliminated some members of the top echelon of the national leadership and some of their senior colleagues in 1966, driven by a socialist ideology they didn’t even understand.

Gowon sat by while thousands of Nigerian citizens he was supposed to be leading were cruelly massacred for no other reason than coming from a particular part of the country. Gowon saw no reason to protect them, no reason to bring anybody to book for their gruesome death and yet he expected no back-lash. As an 11-year-old boy in 1966, I never stopped wondering what manner of a leader would watch this happen and do nothing.

It is however to the eternal credit of General Yakubu Gowon that what he did not do at the beginning of the crisis he did at the end of the war when he made sure that there were no reprisals against the Biafrans. This single act of statesmanship made it possible for the war to end once and for all without any subsequent guerilla actions thus preventing further deaths.

It is clear that if this quality of leadership was shown at the beginning of the crises, there could, perhaps, have been no civil war and the one million lives lost in that unspeakable tragedy could have been averted.

This is the type of difference quality leadership can make in all situations. This is the type former President Nelson Mandela made in South Africa.

Jonathan has the pedigree to make this type of difference to our National life. He is well educated, indeed the first PhD holder to exercise executive presidential authority over Nigeria. He has been a university teacher, a deputy governor, a governor, a vice_ president and then a president. Very few if any Nigerian, have this type of pedigree. Above these and more importantly he is honest, humble, and humane.
His children are in school in Nigeria. He has no palaces abroad, and by his own

admission no bank account abroad unlike most of our other former and current leaders who siphon our common patrimony abroad.
This election is an opportunity for Nigerians to take their country back from the fraudulent oligarchies from all over the country who have over the years virtually appropriated the nation. We can do this by voting for Jonathan; a man who came from among us; a member of the masses who can see what we see, feel what we feel and hear what we hear.
The masses must rise up to this occasion and ensure, by voting for Jonathan, that from April 2011 the political landscape of Nigeria will never be the same again. This is a defining moment in our history and we the masses must seize this opportunity; an opportunity to handover the banner to one of us for a more responsive, more transparent and more accountable governance.
But do we the masses really have an alternative to President Jonathan, of course no.

The other parties and their Candidates have nothing to offer us. The opposition is vision_less and selfish. Looking at the CPC for instance there is no doubt that ex_General Muhammadu Buhari is a disciplined and honest Nigerian. But his democratic credentials are however doubtful.
This has been confirmed by the way the Presidential Primaries of his party were conducted. Watching those primaries and Buhari on television one gets the impression that Buhari is best
suited for the position of an Oba, Emir or Igwe. The young Nigerian democracy will face unimaginable risk in the hands of Buhari.
The ACN on the other hand, preaches one thing and does another.

It shouts so loud about democracy but does not walk its talk in its own internal affairs, and in the states where it controls. Their primaries were also a disgrace to democracy. It has virtually become the private property of Ahmed Tinubu the ex_Governor of Lagos State who decides who gets what.
The ACN has become an oligarchy that should not be trusted with power.

It imposed a Presidential Candidate on the Party after Party men and women travelled several kilometers from around Nigeria to conduct a primary. There is no doubt that their Presidential Candidate is a good and committed Nigerian but he emerged through an undemocratic process has little experience and in my opinion he is like a beautiful bride in a bad dress.
Such a bride can never attract suitors unless she finds her way into a more suitable garment. Nuhu Ribadu with his political inexperience will be like a hostage in an ACN government no matter his good intentions; a risk Nigerians must not take.
What we need is a President who has the experience to make a difference; who can not only be in government but also in power supported by a truly national party; and not one that plays enclave and hegemonic politics like the ACN. That person is President Jonathan.

*Mbagwu, writes from Lagos

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