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Now it’s your turn, Sir!

By Donu Kogbara

Now that President Jonathan has emerged triumphant, those who stood by him are mightily relieved that months of stressful uncertainty are finally at an end.

I wish that my late father, Ignatius Kogbara, had been alive to witness the historic day when a man from the local government area that produced Nigeria’s first barrel of oil was given a mandate to rule the entire country. Daddy would have been overwhelmed with emotion and by the significance of this landmark.

As my mother and I celebrated Jonathan’s achievement, we agreed that while Niger Deltans should not be possessive and should gladly share their son and brother with compatriots from other regions, we have special cause to be proud.

Now that millions of Nigerians from all four corners of the nation have done their bit for Jonathan, it is time for him to do his bit for us. And I pray that he does not disappoint us. The multiple woes we endure daily have been well-catalogued; and most of them can be eliminated quite quickly by a visionary leader whose heart is in the right place and whose mind is in the correct gear.

Nigerians have a habit of blaming the people who surround leaders for the mistakes that various governments have made. It is often said that presidents would perform better if they were not being misled, monopolised or shamed by selfish aides, corrupt ministers, inept DGs, etc.

But I have never bought this story. As far as I’m concerned it is the top guy who does the picking of personnel who should take the rap when things go wrong. And I urge Jonathan to think very carefully before he chooses the team that will work alongside him as he faces up to the need to cope dynamically with the tough challenges ahead.

Congratulations Jonathan – A reader’s reaction

Several readers have reacted to the fact that I expressed support for President Jonathan in last week’s column – and to his subsequent victory at the polls. Some of these reactions were abusive (bad losers!), but most were positive and I think that Jeutega Onokpasa, a lawyer who shuttles between Abuja and Delta State, spoke for many Nigerians when he said:

I congratulate the Nigerian people and Goodluck Jonathan on the common man’s victory that was achieved last Saturday. Dr. Jonathan on his part deserved to win, having implemented comprehensive electoral reforms, stabilized fuel supply and made prima facie genuine efforts to improve electricity supply.

The vast majority of Nigerians at last found in Dr Jonathan, a man they can respect without being afraid of.
These are the qualifications for democratic leadership. As for those who ruled without the peoples mandate or permission in the past, change and metamorphosis rendered them obsolete and history passed them by.

In the presidential elections, Goodluck Jonathan’s support base vastly and overwhelmingly cut across class, faith, regional and ethnic power bases, both North and South. The Nigerian people substantially abandoned the parochialism of the past and committed their votes to a man capable of liberating them within the enlightened framework of a united Nigeria.

Goodluck/Sambo 2011 became a generational project and by voting that ticket, the majority of Nigerians simply felt they were actually voting for two of their own. We went out there and won this election for ourselves. It is in this light that the ridiculous and animalistic conduct of opposition supporters to the president’s victory are most irretrievably without basis.

Mr. President must in his fresh term deliver on power, jobs, infrastructure, social services, security and the re-engineering of the Nigerian reality. He must be steadfast in these priorities, for being the child of destiny, he has no choice in the matter. He must therefore look far and wide for new talents to nourish his administration having been handed an inescapable opportunity to become the architect of a new Nigeria.

As for the PDP, it is either it reforms or it will perish. As for power supply, trust me, sooner than later, it must improve or the government will collapse.


Why Nigerians are lucky

I HAVE done a lot of reading about other countries’ pasts and presents recently; and I’ve been very struck by how fortunate Nigeria is by comparison.

We don’t have to put up with the terrible weather that sometimes brings parts of Europe and the United States to complete standstill.

We don’t have to suffer through floods, tsunamis, typhoons, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes, bush fires or other crippling natural disasters.

Even when we are subjected to tyranny, it is never as acute or prolonged as the kind of horrifying ordeals that Russia and Germany, for example, went through during the Stalinist and Nazi eras.

Between 1929 and 1953, a staggering 29 million Russians were sent to the gulag – prison camps in remote and freezing locations at which they were starved, beaten, tortured, forced to labour like slaves from dawn till dusk and murdered; and most were completely innocent victims of trumped-up charges.

Lev Razgon, a journalist, survived 18 years of appalling cruelty in a gulag. He arrived with 516 other prisoners in 1938. Less than 50 of them were still alive six months later. Nigeria has never had to endure such dark chapters in its history.

Arabs in Libya, Egypt, etc, are being much-praised for revolting against sit-tight dictators who have inflicted themselves for decades. And we sometimes mock or chide ourselves for not courageously demonstrating against – and actively fighting – unwanted leaders. But since no Nigerian leader has ever hung around for more than a few years, we don’t, on reflection, really need to rebel big-time.
We have much to be thankful for.

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