A look at the personae of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and why he should enjoy today before the arduous task of delivering on his promises to the nation.
Not since the days when Basorun Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola, the man simply referred to as MKO, made his foray into presidential politics, have Nigerians largely agreed to surrender their mandate to an individual and not a political party.
And, the man is Goodluck Jonathan of (ironically) the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Nowhere was Jonathan’s self recognisance able to do wonders than in the South-West geo-political zone which voted massively for candidates of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in the federal legislative elections, only to turn out the following week to vote en masse for Jonathan as against the dominant party in the zone.
And, if PDP leaders had thought that it would exploit the massive votes Jonathan got from the people of Yorubaland during the governorship election, they were grossly mistaken – ACN swept all the governorship elections in the zone.
For Jonathan, born to parents of humble disposition from Otuoke in riverine Bayelsa State, he had to personally stump the grounds to get votes.
His luck knew no bounds.
For good or ill, some had sought his type of anointing which had seen him rise from being deputy governor to become governor and last year, on May 6, after the demise of Umaru Yar’Adua, Jonathan was sworn in as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic. Some luck.
But many would still readily point out that Jonathan has not been one who pushes that luck too far.
At the height of the zoning debacle in PDP before the presidential convention, Jonathan had to personally beg the PDP governors.
His words: “I have not been known by people to be a desperate individual. Even after the president died, and the mantle fell on me, I attempted to carry everybody along. It is not a do-or-die affair to become the president of this country. Whatever we do here, we should put Nigeria first and understand that whatever our party does will affect this country greatly.
I am ready to make concessions for all of us to have peace and move ahead as a people and as a nation. If the party leaders and members say they do not want me as their presidential candidate, I would gladly accept it because I believe in God and I believe God Almighty is the one that gives power. As a party, we should ensure that after the primaries, we do not leave ourselves too bruised to win the general elections.”
But some people around him have been known to push the luck too far. And, that is why Jonathan had to admonish his ministers and aides that nobody should rig on his behalf; that his election is not worth the life of anybody and, therefore, he did not want any foul or underhanded tactics employed with a view to enabling him win the presidential election.
He has a demure demeanour; but that has become his greatest asset because it makes it difficult to quickly read his mind. That seeming docility, which some Nigerians are quick to point at, is the very essence of Jonathan’s strength. Every leader has had to contend with public opprobrium to his person.
While some are said to be brutish, some cunning, Jonathan’s cross is that his demure demeanour is incongruous with the personality that Nigerians want. But, former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was quick to look mean and serious, only succeeded in landing Nigeria where the country is today – eight years of waste, some would say. That remains contentious.
For Jonathan, Nigerians voted for him because they have come to love him for one simple reason: He is not known to have any baggage yet. He should build on that; in his own interest and the interest of people from other minority nations within the Nigerian polity. But Jonathan may have lost an opportunity to engage a most invaluable public relations stint for himself.
How? Very simple: Just imagine what President Jonathan’s rating would have been if he had announced last week that he would not engage in an elaborate inauguration because of cash crunch or contemporary realities, that he would want a small event inside Aso Rock Presidential Villa, with just a few dignitaries, no presidential lunch or dinner, just as it was on May 6, last year when he was sworn in, claiming to do it in memory of all those who lost their lives in the pre- and post-election violence, just imagine.
Not that it is a crime for Nigeria to spend close to N1 billion for the inauguration, but for a man in whom many Nigerians have invested their hope, such an act would have created a legacy of immensely invaluable proportions for him. Nigerians would forgive him for now believing that he would deliver. He should for the sake of posterity.