By Donu Kogbara
Last week, I wrote about conflicts (legal and otherwise) between my Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, and his opponents in Rivers State and the Presidency (the former insist that they are operating independently and are not being backed by the latter. But many onlookers are finding it hard to take this denial seriously).
Anyway, in last week’s column, I quoted Uche Igwe, a UK-based Nigerian academic who blamed Dr Goodluck Jonathan for most of the above shenanigans and thinks that he should avoid shadow-chasing political intrigues and concentrate on dynamically developing the country he was elected to lead.
I’ve subsequently discovered that most of the Vanguard readers who have sent me texts or emails in the past few days – and most of the people I’ve encountered in various social or professional settings – share Mr Igwe’s views.
Interestingly, the individuals who have recently communicated with me have not, as a general rule, even bothered to mention Amaechi’s fights with his disgruntled Rivers brethren. Most have firmly focussed on the widespread belief that the Abuja crowd is determined to destroy Amaechi at all costs.
Sure, there are folks who regard Amaechi as the Devil incarnate and folks who regard Jonathan as a saint. But these uncompromising Amaechi critics and die-hard Jonathan fans are not typical. And the Bottom Line is as follows:
Whether they are
Northerners or Southerners, Niger Deltan or otherwise, male or female, rich or average or poor, 90 per cent of the folks who have discussed this issue with me – verbally, in writing, on the phone or face-to-face – sympathise with Amaechi and have nothing good to say about Mr President.
Amaechi has also managed to attract substantial media support and the endorsement of a global literary icon (Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Prize winner).
But Amaechi is the least of Mr President’s problems at the moment!
When voters from every corner of Nigeria decided, in 2011, that Jonathan was a likeable fellow and good news generally, they never imagined that he would rapidly become so disappointing and unpopular.
As one who vigorously campaigned for him to become our Head of State – and assured doubtful foreigners that he could perform well – I myself I’m shocked and distressed by the speed with which he has lost his emotional hold over so many people who once held him in high esteem. I desperately want him to be the best leader we’ve ever had and I’m very sad and angry about the status quo.
Niger Deltans who aren’t Ijaws started off regarding Jonathan as a Big Brother who would fairly represent all of the minority groups in their region. But most non-Ijaws have wound up feeling used, dumped and utterly frustrated.
If Jonathan cannot even retain the affections of amicable neighbours and cousins who enthusiastically rooted for him when he needed us most, only God knows how he can hang onto hearts and minds in other parts of the Federation.
If I were in Mr
President’s shoes, I would scrutinize the writing on the wall with humility and an open mind, tell myself a few painful home truths and go out of my way to re-capture the goodwill and credibility that have gone down the drain.
Whatever sceptics may say, Jonathan does not lack capacity. He has a lot of potential; and it is not too late for him to salvage his tarnished image and persuade Nigerians to forgive his mistakes and vote for him again in 2015.
And, by the way, the Ijaw activists who are threatening to return to the creeks with their Kalashnikovs – and to unleash mayhem on the nation if Jonathan doesn’t win the next election – are not doing their man any favours.
In a fragile, multi-ethnic
society like this one, all this inflammatory tribalistic talk is downright dangerous; and Jonathan really needs to publicly reprimand his more hot-headed advocates if he wants to be seen as a serious statesman and revert to being universally loved.
In the meantime, I urge Dame Patience Jonathan to help us heal the bitter rifts on her home turf in a mature and motherly way. She comes from Rivers State and most Rivers natives were so proud when our Sister became First Lady.
I for one will be absolutely delighted if she can be seen to be trying to reconcile warring factions and make peace between her husband and her Governor.
Life is too short for all this wahala!
Amaechi and Jonathan should be working together.