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What if?

By Donu Kogbara
I was chatting with a group of friends last week; and everyone said that they were extremely upset about the current state of the country.

Most participants in this discussion also expressed bitter regrets about opposing ex-President Obasanjo’s third term bid in 2006…on the grounds that they regard his successors as disasters and now believe that Nigeria would be in much better shape today if Obasanjo had run the show for an extra four years.

Sadly, some of those who were complaining about President Goodluck Jonathan’s performance are also natives of his core Niger Delta constituency and used to be fanatical supporters of the first Head of State to come from our zone. And not all of the above complainants are disgruntled for the wrong reasons.

Disillusionment is not always a matter of principle. Criticisms of government are, a lot of the time, motivated by personal interests and disappointments. It is often the case that people attack administrations simply because they haven’t been provided with juicy public sector contracts or appointments.

And I think it is fair to say that some of the friends who were griping about Jonathan and Yar’Adua in my presence the other day would probably be singing the duo’s praises to the high heavens – or at least keeping quiet while others griped – if Jonathan and Yar’Adua had lavished patronage on them!

However, there were a couple of guys in our midst who cannot be accused of bad belleh because they did very well during Yar’Adua tenure and are still doing well.

And I think it is fair to say that when such successful types make derogatory comments about leaders, they are doing so not because they are congenitally ungrateful but because they are trying to be objective. They realise that their triumphs as individuals are not the end of the story and are genuinely concerned about the welfare of less fortunate citizens and the fate of Nigeria as a whole.

Anyway, whether  you agree or disagree with those who have low opinions of Presidents Yar’Adua and Jonathan, thinking about their fans and detractors has made me feel like playing a daydreaming game I describe as  “WHAT IF?”

The “WHAT IF?” game boils down to imagining what might have happened if history had taken a completely or slightly different course. And I’m inviting Vanguard readers to play this interesting game with me and send me their ideas about what might have transpired if Obasanjo had indeed secured a third term.

Here, in the meantime, is my list of things that I suspect – or am sure – would have happened or not happened if Obasanjo had only left office last April:-

President Goodluck Jonathan

*Obasanjo would have been in a more cheerful and generous frame of mind at the end of his reign if we had allowed him to extend it until 2011; and he would, perhaps, have decided that we deserved to be rewarded for our obedience by being handed over to a robust new Oga who didn’t have serious health issues and was capable of taking good care of us!

*Yar’Adua may not have died so early if he had not been selected to sit on the mega-stressful Villa hot seat in 2007…and if, once he had completed his eight years as Katsina State Governor, he had retired from public life and focussed on relaxing activities like hanging out with his grandchildren.

Credit for Amnesty deal

*Yar’Adua often gets most or all of the credit for the 2009 Amnesty deal that inspired Niger Delta militants to lay down their arms, but I believe that Goodluck Jonathan’s presence at the high table was the real reason they agreed to quit fighting…and that militancy would have dragged on for much longer if a Niger Deltan had not been Vice President in 2009.

*Obasanjo had spectacularly fallen out with his Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, by 2006; and he would almost definitely have chosen another Northerner to be his running-mate for the 2007 elections. I will leave it up to readers to suggest which Northerner “Baba” might have been chosen.

*Obasanjo’s Northern deputy would have learned from Atiku’s experiences, would have carefully sustained a cordial relationship with his tetchy boss and would have been endorsed as the PDP’s presidential candidate in 2011.

*Obasanjo would have thought about seeking a fourth term but would be too ashamed to do so and he’d have graciously handed over to his VP

*Timi Sylva’s gubernatorial plans would have had to be postponed because Jonathan would have stayed on as Governor of Bayelsa until 2011. And he’d have quietly gone about his Business As Usual and would have continued to be the least high-profile PDP Governor in the South-South.

*By 2011, it would finally have been the South-South’s “turn” to produce a Vice-President. And the Northern PDP Presidential candidate would have invited Jonathan to become his running mate because he would have wanted a junior partner who, in addition to being less famous than Amaechi, Akpabio, Imoke and Uduaghan, also appeared to be more pliable

*The Northern-Goodluck ticket would have cruised to victory in the 2011 polls and Jonathan would have doggedly maintained his low profile and wouldn’t have had sufficient clout, as a mere second-in-command, to make Mrs. Diezani Allison-Maduekwe the Minister of Petroleum and the custodian of our main economic resource.

*If Jonathan was still VP today and was still aspiring to the number one slot, he would still – in order to ensure that we slavishly supported his ambitions – be concealing his lukewarm attitude towards Niger Deltans who are not members of his Ijaw ethnic group.

And we would still be living in Cloud Cuckoo Land and providing him with unconditional love and labouring under the illusion that our dear “Big Brother” Jonathan genuinely cares about Tsekiris, Efiks, Ikwerres, Ogonis, etc, etc, etc!


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