By Josef Omorotionmwan
WE knew it was coming but we did not know that it would come so soon – that an incumbent African leader would lose an election; and if he ever lost, that he would relinquish power peacefully.
Former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan should not keep belabouring himself, justifying doing the right thing. Whether or not he was pressurized into doing the right thing is now immaterial. He is already down in history as the pioneer African President to behave in the new positive direction. He made going in this direction very attractive and it is catching up fast.
Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was essentially right, “Nothing beats an idea whose time has come”. There are obvious indications that this idea was already ripe but African leaders just needed someone to kick-start it. And Jonathan came handy as the arrow-head.
It might even be out of place to assume that the out-going President of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, is not sufficiently attracted by the offer.
On December 1, 2016, there was a presidential election in Gambia. The following day, Jammeh surprised critics by accepting defeat after 22 years in office. That was the Jonathan syndrome at work.
Barely a week later, it occurred to Jammeh that after 22 long years in power, he did not make adequate arrangement for his soft-landing at the exit point, hence he beat a retreat to the usual African tradition, by rejecting the results he had earlier accepted.
When we see a man that is desperately hungry for power, we should know him, hence we are not in a hurry to forget that Jammeh was the same man who, on 16 June 2015 issued a proclamation from the State House that he should he addressed as “His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J Jammeh Babili Mansa Dawda Jawara”. Is it not surprising that in spite of his over-bloated imagery, there is still some semblance of acceptability to the Jonathan syndrome?
Africa is moving in the right direction. In furtherance of this move, the latest entry comes from incumbent Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama who has just lost at the country’s presidential election. In our several years in politics and public administration, we have not come across such a sound submission, hence we have recommended elsewhere that this great speech should be an anthem that every politician the world over must recant every morning and every night.
Hear President Mahama: “We lost because our time was simply up, and no amount of deceptive campaign promises could keep us in power. No amount of monopolisation of the media space could save us. No amount of money could stop our defeat. No amount of local and international celebrity endorsements could help us. And no amount of vote buying could stop the irresistible hurricane of change that shook our nation on Wednesday.
I will urge my party members to stop the “blames storming” that has started so that we brainstorm on how to get ourselves out of the mess we have put ourselves in. The future of our great party looks gloomy and we have to start work on how to get ourselves out of what appears like an eternal stay in opposition.
In life, when you are hit by the subduing blow of misfortune, you have two options. You can allow the blow to crush you. You can also move on with the enormous lessons such misfortunes often present. I cannot immediately tell my next move in life, politics and my role in our great party. But if I should ever make a comeback to politics, the lessons I have learnt from our defeat should serve as the moral code which will guide how I guide myself.
I have learnt that the Ghanaian voter, though mainly uneducated and simple, is more sophisticated than we thought. I have learnt that it is unacceptable for the people to loot, hoard and splash during elections.
I have learnt that the calls of the noisy minority cannot be ignored because they largely shape the opinions of the silent minority who we politicians exploit for our selfish gain. I have learnt that not all those who criticised us hated us. Sometimes the best way to express your love for someone is to be critical of their actions. If I should ever return, I will not display a “dead goat syndrome” towards disaffection of the masses.
When those who opposed us cried foul, we retorted “Hate can’t win”. Tonight, however, I am the first to admit that some hate can win. This election has taught me that the hate of corruption can win. It has taught me that the hate of incompetence can win. Our defeat has taught me that the hate of impunity can win. I have learnt that the hate of the obscene display of ill-gotten opulence wins. I have learnt that hate of mediocrity and deception definitely wins. And I have learnt that hating evil will forever triumph over the lover of evil. That was what happened on Wednesday.
Another important lesion I have learnt from this defeat is that the success or failure of a leader depends on the kind of people he or she surrounds themselves with. While Rawlings appointed the likes of Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas as Deputy Ministers, I made the mistake of giving that respectable position to the likes of John Oti Bless. I have now realised, rather too late, that if I had kept the likes of Ben Dolsei Malor and Dr. Raymond Atuguba around me, they would have injected some semblance of sanity into the Presidency and given that high office an aura of respectability and decency. The praise-singing sycophants who act on the dictates of their stomachs are only specialised at telling you what you want to hear. Unfortunately, I did not listen to the voices of reason. Our elders say a disease that will kill a man first breaks sticks into his ears”.
At this rate, official corruption and sit-tightism in Africa will soon be consigned to history. There is hope!