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Et tu Jonathan

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By Chioma Gabriel

So, President Goodluck Jonathan finally responded to Obasanjo’s letter after sixteen days of receiving it and when many Nigerians were already thinking he had nothing to say or that the allegations made against him were true. Some mischief makers even suggested that perhaps, the President was waiting for Dame Patience Jonathan to respond on his behalf or give him the go-ahead to do so.

It is true to some extent that many strong men in history were rubbished by the women they love but Jonathan does not belong to that category. That he is the man of the house and therefore the man of the people is not in doubt. He is a man who confronts his fears and political enemies in a manner that even when he tells them to go to hell, they look forward to the journey.

If politicians are not known to be too patient, President Jonathan has proven himself to be different. His long silence before responding to Obasanjo’s letter was not the silence of the grave-yard. It portrays a man who is in charge!!! Even when his aides rushed out to venture  where angels feared to tread, Jonathan cautioned them and kept his calm mien to the level that his political enemies likened him to Emperor Nero of ancient Rome who played the fiddle while Roman empire was on fire! But shame to bad people! Jonathan has proven to be the man.

Politicians who tend to fight back like wounded lions whenever their paths are trodden upon have been shown the path of honour by Jonathan.

We’d all recall when it happened before. It was former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida  that drew the ire of  Obasanjo  when he chose to lambast  Obasanjo for not doing much in the power sector after spending eight  years as President.

Hardly, had IBB finished saying this than OBJ gave a rebuttal, saying “Now, he has the audacity to talk about anybody; I think that is unfortunate. I also read where he said in his time, he gave the dividends of democracy and at the same time he regretted. When I read that, well, I said Babangida should be pitied and shown sympathy, rather than anger or condemnation because the old saying says a fool at 40 is a fool forever and I would say a regret at 70 is a regret too late. Well, a regret at 70 is a regret to the grave.”

But in the case of Obasanjo versus President Goodluck Jonathan over grave concerns raised by Obasanjo in his recent letter to Jonathan, mum remained  the word contrary to sundry expectations that the President would  vent his spleen on the issues raised almost immediately.

It was Abati that responded first but then was asked to keep quiet. I am wondering  what Reuben Abati would write about Jonathan  and his regime after serving him. I wonder if he would repeat exactly those words he used in defence of Jonathan or  if he would change gear and tell all of us who would read his future ‘best-seller’ his real perceptions about Jonathan’s regime.

I wonder if he would still find Obasanjo’s letter to Jonathan as leaked  to the media highly unbecoming, mischievous and provocative or whether he too would  impugn the integrity of the President and denigrate his commitment to giving Nigeria the best possible leadership.

One truth he did say however was that Jonathan would  at the appropriate time, offer a full personal response to the ‘most reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous charges levied against him’.

Jonathan did exactly that earlier this week but I’m not really sure Jonathan’s letter properly addressed the salient issues such as training of snipers  who allegedly target 1000 political opponents, the dwindling of the economy, corruption and the promise of one term rule among others raised in OBJ’s letter.

Allegations of keeping over 1,000 people on political watch list rather than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if they are true, is a big deal.

I’m not worried about single or double tenure but about loss of lives because nobody would want history to repeat itself.

What I consider admirable is the fact that Jonathan was more restrained and polite in the  language of his letter. Yet, he called OBJ  an irresponsible hypocrite and liar, a veritable security risk, a leader who had a long history of subverting his party and the electoral process, an inciter of the public against authority, an ambitious leader who is scheming to install puppets in place of Jonathan, and many more things that should keep anyone, other than Obasanjo, awake at night.

Many believe that Jonathan’s responses were carefully chosen, neither leaving him at the risk of being further taken up, nor sounding unduly apologetic.

He did not make any reference to Iyabo Obasanjo’s letter to her father and ignored the  deluge of condemnations over the manner Obasanjo made his letter public.

Well, Obasanjo has already said he would not write another letter, open or top secret to Jonathan in the nearest future even though Jonathan’s response did not mitigate the damage of OBJ’s letter.

OBJ succeeded in battering Jonathan’s ego and Jonathan showed an unusual maturity by exhibiting a calm mien. Only, nobody knows what was going on within him. A man’s mind is a deep ocean of secrets!

Jonathan has set up a committee to that effect and that would douse the tension of whether truly  he raised a killer squad and compiled a list of opponents to watch. We have enough security issues in Nigeria and to add another 1000 people in the list is a big deal that should not be swept under the carpet.

One is  not worried about Jonathan’s ambition to run in 2015. Nigerians have the franchise to vote him out if they don’t want him.

One is worried that  his party the PDP is facing massive challenges  due to his undeclared ambition. Political  realignments are taking place which have major implications for the 2015 elections.

The opposition All Progressives Congress , APC,  is already calling for his impeachment which is rather surprising.  The National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives is in shambles. The Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal is neither here nor there. The opposition  had cited massive unemployment, insecurity, among others as grounds for the impeachment of the President. And the presidency had threatened treasonable charges against the opposition.

But I don’t think the opposition will be a better alternative for Nigeria either.

I’m not comfortable with the political history of some of it’s leaders and I know they will not augur well for Nigeria. I keep having this nagging feeling that APC will implode someday!

A political party that has been on the mission to  polarize the nation in a manner it has never been more polarized if Jonathan contests in 2015 will do worse as a party in government. Most leaders of the opposition are politicians who believe Nigeria has no business being one indivisible entity. I’m not a fan of Jonathan but  if he is a tribal leader, I see the worse tribal leaders in opposition government. I see in opposition, a party that will finally divide Nigeria.

Why shouldn’t Jonathan run? For national interest? Who among the opposition has national interest at heart? Is it not stomach democracy that is driving the opposition? Is it not about sharing the national cake?  There are people committed to making sure that Jonathan remains  President until 2019.

If he jumps ship in 2015, they will blame the rest of Nigeria for throwing him overboard, and may make sure no one sleeps with two eyes shut just as those who swore to make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan if he won 2011 election are living up to that. President Jonathan is as good as being a candidate in 2015 and Obasanjo’s letter  will give him the impetus to stick to the course.

But Jonathan should sit up in all ramifications. He said  Obasanjo is misinformed and mischievous in his interpretation of the performance of the economy. It is true he inherited a bad economy from Obasanjo but Nigerians expect more radical steps against corruption and poor management from his government.

Paying Obasanjo back in his own coin will not solve any problem in the polity. He should work harder in building a greater Nigeria.

Work is the price we pay to travel the highway of success.

Great civilisations were built by people who worked and pulled relentlessly on the oars, not those who rested on it. Work is the foundation of all business, the source of all prosperity and the parent of genius. It has laid the foundation for every fortune.

Work erected the most monumental land marks on earth and engraved so many names in history. It is the salt that gives life its savour.

So why won’t Jonathan work harder than he is doing to  make life comfortable,  purposeful and more fruitful for Nigerians? All we are saying is that he should learn to give governance his  best shot.

If the likes of Al-Mustapha should  challenge the ex-president Obasanjo to a public debate on the allegations against Jonathan,  expressing  disappointment at the former president’s approach and saying that OBJ made  allusions to him (Al-Mustapha), then the security issues are more complicated than we think.

Al-Mustapha had said: “I read Obasanjo’s letter and subsequent comments by Nigerians. I would have responded immediately, but I was away in India receiving treatment. Perhaps it is Obasanjo and his cronies that are planning what he was insinuating. From 1974 to the present, a lot of things are buried with all sorts of lies, but all would be revealed one day. I urge everyone to pray for Obasanjo to accept my challenge for a public debate so that the truth will come out.”

That statement was loaded. I hope OBJ heard that!

There is no common political culture to  suggest that all Nigerians should think alike. Some are conservative while others are liberal. Some have more negative attitudes toward public officials than others. These attitudes should determine how Nigerians  participate, whom they vote for, and what political parties they support. And many factors,  including family, gender, religion, ethnicity and region also contribute to Nigerian’s political attitudes and behaviour.

Nigeria needs to forget her past mistakes and hurts.  Nigerians may not start the drive they need in building a nation that works if we hold unto our past. We all need to get ourselves motivated to believe Nigeria is not a ‘dead’ nation. There’s no way our leaders would  perform miracles because that would not happen. We as individuals need to do our little to move the nation forward. We need to free ourselves from our old beliefs that Nigeria may not work.

Democracy provides people with the opportunity to be active citizens rather than passive subjects. However, the promise of participation comes with a number of challenges. Citizens must evaluate a large number of political objects (such as candidates, parties, and platforms) and then aggregate these preferences in a way that allows them to be mapped into a simple vote decision.

We need to re-build Nigeria but to start making that work, our leaders need to get down to work towards moving the nation forward with the right attitude and not believe that they can always get away with their inactivity and corrupt practices.

Leaders are not elected just to lead, but also to serve. They should work with people who have the right attitude to navigate the ship of the nation on the right direction. I doubt if many of such leaders exist in Jonathan’s administration.

Nigerians  have heard enough of promises. Now,  we want those promises to be fulfilled. Let us leave the politics and tantrums that go with politicking and concentrate on making Nigeria work.

Opposition needs to be more pro-active. They should be seen to mean well for Nigeria and not to be working to break it as they are perceived to be doing at present.

Jonathan needs to address poverty, which has ravaged the nation  all these years. He should remember when he had no shoes and know that many Nigerians don’t just have shoes but legs as well.

Nigerians need to start enjoying the dividends of democracy, constant power supply, which has long been overdue. Nigerians need good roads and cheaper and affordable communications, better employment opportunities and increased livelihood. The people need adequate and cheap medical facilities, world class education that can be comparable to what is obtainable in advanced countries instead of what is obtainable today. Jonathan needs to put his promises to work and stop the self gratification that has been the bane of our system in the past. Nigerians have suffered enough neglect and need open and transparent leadership which has the people’s interest at heart.

We need a nation that works and therefore Jonathan should  gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience and should  really endeavour to look fear in the face. He should indeed begin to tackle the issues raised in OBJ’s letter and read the people’s commentaries about it.

It is time to forget politics of mudslinging and face the truth.

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