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Between the Known and the Unknown: The odds against Jonathan and Buhari

Why presidential election will alter Nigeria’s destiny

By Jide Ajani

Worthless! Very worthless pieces of paper are the things that would determine their fate! The presidential ambition of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari would be determined by those pieces of paper that Nigerians would drop in the ballot boxes across the country on February 14, 2015.

But the irony is that just like the legal tender – money or treasury bills – a huge value addition is in place which makes what ordinarily should be just any other paper worth more than a note off the shelf.

General Muhammadu Buhari
General Muhammadu Buhari

By the same token, the immense powers inherent in a ballot paper, when polled across the country, imbue it with the enormous potency which determines the fate of individuals seeking an elective office.

That is what Nigerians would be required to use in determining who, between Jonathan and Buhari, is fit to occupy Aso Rock from May 29, 2015.  But it is not going to be a choice that would be easy and clear cut. And whereas Nigerians would be putting their trust and hopes in the hands of either of these two men, the fundamental, underlying raison d’etre for choosing one above the other is as foggy and unpredictable as the British weather.

For Jonathan, it is, perhaps, opportunities wasted! For Buhari, it could very well be hopes misplaced. And there is a plethora of reasons why some people would feel disappointed at the turn of events regarding the Jonathan presidency; just as those seeking change by rooting for Buhari, may be heading into the sphere of the unknown with their eyes closed or opened.

Doing a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis on each of the candidates would show that Nigerians are in dire straits.

Being an incumbent comes with the benefits and advantages of having something to showcase. It provides an opportunity to make more promises of a better tomorrow.

Yet, the same incumbency factor opens the occupant of the office to a lot of criticisms about errors committed, things left undone or things that could have been done better.

For Jonathan, he came with a lot of promise. Even those who fought tooth and nail to enthrone the ‘doctrine of necessity’, an innovation which saved him from the cabal which had treated him with scorn and brought him to power in 2009, soon began to pull away on grounds of a certain agreement that he would not seek to be elected in 2011. Whatever agreement may have been entered into but which violates Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution is nothing more than a joke. But then, Jonathan may not have found himself in a situation of struggling for re-election had he delivered well. He had all the opportunities but, if truth be told, he has delivered below par – and he has all the opportunities in the world to do better. All Jonathan needs is to be more presidential.

Take, for instance, two recent developments. The ground-breaking ceremony for an EPZ was called off by Jonathan because some people (of Ijaw stock, his own people) threatened that unless they were given a piece of the pie, there would be no peace, and Nigeria’s President buckled. Worse still, the people were being led by an individual whose criminal activities, robed in the guise of militancy, only recently enjoyed amnesty. The second, and, perhaps, more dangerous and disturbing development, is the alleged award of a contract by the DG of NIMASA, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, an Ijaw, to Global West Vessel Service, a private company believed to be controlled by one-time militant, Chief Ekpemupolo, a.k.a Tompolo, which enabled him add seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships to its weaponry, for the monitoring and defence of Nigeria’s coastal area. The first question is, what is the job of the Nigerian Navy? Secondly, and for the sake of decency, which President does that? This is egregiously shambolic.

The Ijaw are not the only people from the South-South, much more the South of Nigeria.

Worse still for Jonathan, some leaders of his party are upset at the shambles that has been made of the primaries with discontent in most areas. But that is as much of the known – a shambling and shambolic President.

Now, the unknown! Why should Nigerians entrust their destiny in the hands of a political party that has made spin its directive principle of party administration and policy? The All Progressives Congress, APC, of Buhari is so adept at saying the usually useful things but ends up doing the opposite such that it would only take the unperceptive to see through the ruse.

Although the party conducted a very free and fair presidential primary, Nigerians would still want to know why the candidate of northern extraction should be allowed to rule this country on the created premise that the North is born to rule? Good, very good at criticising the Federal Government without any serious alternative policy platforms, the APC has made itself much more unsellable.  But for the hues and cries about its proposition of a Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket, the party could have gone ahead to make the choice. Not that quality needed to be sacrificed on the altar of sentiment, such a choice at a time like this in Nigeria would have been unsellable.

President Goodluck Jonathan casting his vote during the Special Convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan casting his vote during the Special Convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja.

The following interviews with presidential aide, Doyin Okupe; Ajumogobia, Coomassie and Shonibare, are all about the need to ensure that that ballot paper is used wisely by Nigerians to determine who should lead them as President next year.

But the dilemma confronting the Nigerian voter is the choice they must make between the shambolic that is known and the uncertainty that is to come. No one can say for certain that Jonathan’s second coming would be better, nor can anyone declare that Buhari would not be another disaster waiting to happen – especially with the cobbled assemblage of politicians in the APC. Would Nigerians be better off continuing with Jonathan or risk another wave of militancy from the South-South in the event that Jonathan’s Ijaw brothers believe that their man had been hounded out of office? Would Buhari’s APC halt the slide into anarchy as a result of the activities of members of Boko Haram?

These are issues that a judicious use of the ballot papers can decide. But choosing a President via the ballot box does not guarantee a life more abundant.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.