Jonathan and Tinubu

By Donu Kogbara

In 2015, the APC won the presidential election; and Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP head of state, graciously conceded defeat and handed over to Major General (retd) Muhammadu Buhari.

Since most Nigerians don’t have media platforms or wish to express strong opinions outside safe private spaces, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC’s presidential candidate, may not be aware that his recent goodwill visit to Jonathan’s Abuja residence (and photos of the 2 men beaming at the camera like old pals) generated widespread irritation, especially on Jonathan’s Niger Deltan home turf.

The reason given for the visit was that  Tinubu – who was accompanied by his running mate, Senator Kashim Shetimma, and five APC governors – is engaging in consultations with influential individuals from every geopolitical zone, in a bid to win their support.

OK so there is nothing wrong in principle with kindly embracing former political opponents; and it’s definitely civilized and healthy to bury hatchets instead of nursing toxic grievances forever.

So why did this goodwill visit generate widespread irritation?

Because during the presidential campaign in 2014-15, Tinubu and other APC heavyweights heaped personal insults on Jonathan, viciously criticised his performance and constantly mocked his party.  

Annkio Briggs, the Ijaw activist reminded another newspaper that:

“They constructed effigies to mock Jonathan [who is also Ijaw]; they organised ‘Occupy Nigeria’ demonstrations and paraded with coffins and did all kinds of things against Jonathan.”

I was supporting APC at the time but didn’t know at the time that some of this abuse was grossly unfair and downright dishonest.

Furthermore, most APC stalwarts never thanked Jonathan at all or enough for not behaving like a typical Sit Tight African incumbent.

He could have been a bad loser. He had the power to reject election results that weren’t in his favour. He could have thrown a massive tantrum. He had the power to unleash mayhem on this country.

But he conducted himself like a gentleman, a statesman, a pacifist and a patriot. And he didn’t launch furious verbal counter-attacks against his traducers when APC insults continued relentlessly to rain down on his head long after he had conceded defeat and retired.

On numerous occasions, this government has blamed Jonathan and the PDP for its multiple failures (which exceed Jonathan’s by far).

And now, Tinubu, this government’s arch-enabler, wants cosy consultations and chummy, image-boosting photo opportunities!

According to someone close to Tinubu:  “His visit to Jonathan shouldn’t come to anyone as a surprise. Tinubu holds no grudges with any political leader whether within the party or in the opposition.”


Frankly, I and so many other onlookers (and not just Niger Deltans either) are shocked that Jonathan allowed Tinubu and his delegation into his house!

It is not that he shouldn’t forgive them. It is just that he shouldn’t forgive them until they have apologised to him and to Nigerians!!!

Onetime Jonathan aide, Reno  Omokiri, has said that Jonathan is the best leader Nigeria has ever had and that the warm welcome he offered Tinubu was “Godly”.

I disagree.

Even though I regard Buhari’s administration as worse than Jonathan’s, it was precisely because Jonathan was a disappointment on several levels that some of us voted against him in 2015,

As far as I’m concerned, Obasanjo, though flawed and not as productive as he could have been, is the best we’ve had so far.

Also, even though Jonathan is a basically nice guy, he basically abandoned the PDP in its hour of need, instead of becoming the solid Opposition boss that his demoralised party desperately needed.

And this is not the first occasion on which Jonathan has allowed himself to be identified with his APC tormentors.

Earlier on this year, rumours were rife that he was toying with the idea of joining the APC and even secretly vying for the APC presidential nomination that Tinubu eventually secured. And he never firmly scotched these rumours…which made him look cheap.

Long story short: I’m not convinced that Jonathan’s strange (if you ask me) willingness to flirt with APC in general and Tinubu in particular is Godliness rather than masochism.

Whatever the case may be, whether Jonathan is a divinely inspired saint or simply weak, I share Ms Briggs’s view that Tinubu is not likely to do well electorally in Jonathan’s Ijawland birthplace.

“I will,” she says, “tell the APC/Tinubu for free that if Ijaws vote for him, it will not be at a level for him to claim victory in the Ijaw nation. He cannot hate Ijaws in 2015 and expect Ijaws to vote for him in 2023….all Ijaws are not Jonathan.”

To be fair to Tinubu, he never indicated that he hated all Ijaws. But Briggs is, I think, saying that not all Ijaws are as soft-hearted as Jonathan and will not forget APC’s attacks on one of their own.

Let me add that Tinubu isn’t likely to do well in ANY part of the Niger Delta because so many people in the oil-producing region feel that Tinubu and his ilk have been unjust to their son and brother…and, to add injury to insult, enriched themselves with billions of petrodollars at the expense of long-suffering natives.

Farewell, your Majesty

Elizabeth II, 96, Queen of the Unit

ed Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth just passed away as I was writing this column.

She attracted respect, even when she was a very young woman and even from republicans who feel that monarchy is ridiculously outdated and should not be part of the twenty first century.

She has been a revered institution throughout my life and has never put a foot wrong. She represented dutifulness, stability and nobility. She was a beloved mother to her people and always maintained a cool head, even when her children and errant grandson Prince Harry were messing up and creating toxic dramas that would have shaken most mere mortals to the core.  

I never met her but my sister Lela did (during a breakfast meeting with the late Nelson Mandela at Buckingham Palace).  

Lela spoke well of her.

I will miss her composure and maturity.

Last year, she lost her beloved husband, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. At least she can now join him. May she rest in peace.


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