THE Goodluck Jonathan story is prepossessing. It seemed a snippet off a legend or fairytale. For it is only in legends and fairytales that such stupendous change in a man’s fortune is common place.
His glide from obscurity to the pinnacle of national power – that rapid and seemingly effortless rise of a prior unknown deputy governor to the presidency – inspired the love and admiration of many Nigerians.
Although nothing about him indicates intellectual heft, he has a doctorate degree, a level of academic attainment that distinguished him from earlier Nigerian presidents. Although his message lacked ideological depth and intellectual penetration, it was poignant, and thus, it struck a responsive chord in Nigerian minds. He told us that he had no shoes.
To levitate from utter poverty and deprivation (of having no shoes) to prominence was transformational. And his dazzling rise to power was more revolutionary than evolutionary. So, his campaign promise of transformation appeared in consonant with the transformation and revolution his life, so dramatically, epitomized. Therefore, to many Nigerians, he came across as a providential instrument for the reformation of Nigeria from its corrupt, lawless and disorderly past.
Unfortunately, he has disappointed these expectations. He has failed to make good on his campaign promises, and consequently, Nigeria continues to be plagued by the same problems he had earlier promised to resolve or ameliorate. Corruption, dysfunctional institutions, decrepit public infrastructure, unsteady power supply, terrorism, etc, continue to beset the country.
In addition, Nigerians are dismayed by his insensitive and inhumane economic policies and doctorial tendencies. Democracy does not inherently guarantee the election of good leaders. But, it empowers the people to peacefully remove a bad leader. Dr Jonathan is a bad president, and therefore, should be removed, peacefully, through the ballot box in 2015.
There are emergent indications that in 2015 Jonathan may undermine this fundamental democratic right of the people to change a bad leader. The invisible hands of the Presidency have been at work in a number of the political crisis bedeviling the country.
To secure his party nomination and ensure his re-election in the 2015 election, the President is scheming to control a number of key political institutions, including the Governors Forum. In a concerted endeavour to dislodge the present Chairman of the Governors Forum, Chibuike Amaechi, the Governor of Rivers State, an influential political opponent, the President, through proxies, has taken “do or die” politics to a nauseating extreme.
In a recent election for the Chairman of the Governors Forum, 35 governors voted: 19 to re-elect Governor Amaechi as chairman and 16 for his opponent, Governor Jonah Jang. The President’s loyalists in the Forum abandoned the precepts of basic arithmetic and adopted a mathematical fallacy that advanced the electoral victory of Jang (with 16 votes) over Amaechi (with 19 votes).
Again, to set the stage for the removal of Amaechi as the Governor of Rivers State, five legislators, at the instigation of Nyesom Wike (a surrogate of the President), in a riotously provocative challenge to Nigerian democracy, took over the Rivers State House of Assembly, “impeached” the Speaker of the House and imposed a new “Speaker” on the House.
Their take over of the House was marked by untold levels of violence: assault and brutality. Their conduct was disgustingly at variance from expected behaviours of lawmakers. It was more in conformity with the barbarism and savagery of Amazonian bush fighters.
The Rivers State House of Assembly has 32 legislators, and the Constitution dictates that the Speaker can only be impeached by a 2/3 majority. Again, the President’s proxies jettisoned standard arithmetic, and in their voodoo arithmetic, equated five to 24 (2/3 of 32). In these brazen assaults on the tenets and institutions of democracy and blatant breach of the law and the peace, the culpability of the Presidency remains incontrovertible.
According to an Igbo adage: “A na esi na nma obala we malu nwata di nko.” This loosely translates to: You know a sharp kid from a toy knife. In other words, the way a child handles a toy knife is a powerful indictor – actually foreshadows – his future handling of a real knife.
Therefore, shades of the future are held in this desperate, unlawful attempt by the President and his supporters to torpedo the political lot of a political opponent and secure the control of the Governors Forum.
The violence, disdain for electoral verdicts, scorn for the rule of law and contempt for the Constitution they prominently displayed in the Governors Forum and the Rivers State House of Assembly are worrisome events that prefigure the 2015 presidential election.
The stakes in the presidential election will be much higher than in the present political need to control the Governors Forum. So, it is reasonable to expect that the President and his surrogates will amplify their anti-democratic and lawless modus operandi in the 2015 election; and thus, undermine, and possibly, scuttle a free and fair presidential election.
And that will be sad, terrible and even tragic, as it will severely retard the country’s democratic evolution and seriously jolt the tenuous peace of this our politically volatile and trouble-prone country.
Mr. TOCHUKWU EZUKANMA, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos.