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Published On: Mon, Jan 12th, 2015

February polls: Why Goodluck may elude Jonathan

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Jonathan sadBy Ochiaka Ugwu

There is no doubt that political polarization is making the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) unstable and the just concluded primaries have made it worse. Most aspirants and political watchers have berated the exercise describing it as rape on democracy. In most states, it was characterized by violence, when contenders wanted to protest what they termed stage managed primaries, their protests were ended on deaf ear.

As a man who was helped more by luck than talent and has fashioned himself as the indispensable man to protect Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan is facing perhaps the greatest threat of his long political career. Upon the fact that the Ijaw born zoologist has managed to get the PDP presidential ticket in the most undemocratic way that undermined the doctrine of internal democracy in our political parties, the main contest with the leading opposition All Progressives’ Congress (APC) is going to be difficult for him as clock ticks for February polls.

The rest of the world looks on with trepidation. Nigeria from inception has had four civilian presidents, apart from Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua who did not live to seek for second term, both former presidents, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo did not find it hard returning for second term at the end of their first term. Given the reality on ground, President Jonathan seem to be less lucky than those guys, in that the rise of Boko Haram from a local tugs to a conventional war machine and the constant threat of instability in the nation will be setting the agenda for the election.

The high level of corruption in the polity has remained a disturbing situation. To the extent that one analyst said that what is taking place in government at all level is competition of looting. Even the much sung anti-corruption war by anti-corruption agencies has virtually become a smoke screen. The economy is going down by the day with experts saying it is beyond redemption. As it is, Jonathan is under pressure to convince Nigerians on why they should reelect him for another four years, and his weak base in the country means that his arguments carry less weight in any case. The naked rejection by most electorate and coupled with anti-Jonathan sentiment that is growing by the day tell us all we need to know about the chance of Jonathan being able to win the hearts of Nigerians within the time frame. Indeed the president has not carried the people along in any of its activities. The people have jointly agreed to reject a regime, that in turn, makes for a more volatile and dangerous society for everyone else.

Nigerian presidents have often had to face an electorate of a different complexion, and the rhetoric between them has often been fiery enough. Before now voters have been voting according to ethnic lines, but this time around there was much more of a statesmanlike willingness to place Nigeria before party, tribe and candidates.

Opinion moulders have contended that had Jonathan and PDP had planned and executed very well since 2011, the task in 2015 would, perhaps, have been less stressful than the way it is appearing for the ruling party. Four years may appear a reasonably long period, but it is not interminable. It gets exhausted like a country’s poorly managed foreign reserves and if care is not taken, the things one failed to do in the first year, or what was done wrongly may come to reckoning.

Even as the PDP starts its campaigns, signs of weakness are clearly showing in all ramifications and it came to the fore during the inauguration of the presidential campaign organisation. There was little excitement in the air as the mood was solemn, all efforts to make it lively proved abortive as people show little or no excitement. They wondered how PDP will turn the tide now since they could not do it for almost 16 years of being in the saddle. Even the conveners could not shore up what they have done to deserve the peoples’ mandate. It became mystery to many on why the PDP was keeping quiet and not speaking up. It simply conveys the frustration in the party which shows that it had gone timid. The gathering looks like a scenario where undesirable elements gather to share loot, where the mood is usually tense.

The bad situation of PDP speaks volume about missing opportunities and frittered goodwill. Jonathan had been blessed but it is unfortunate that he was unable to manage its goodluck. The PDP took advantage of Nigerian’s crave for democratic governance, but did not work conscientiously for the people. The PDP worked for some members of the political class, who have become very rich and comfortable. The people who resisted the military and chased them out for politicians to take over had been deceived, and now is time to pay back with most of them waiting in the wings to take their own pound of flesh. The PDP is feeling guilty and now hiding its face in shame.

Regardless of a decade plus of economic prosperity, which high prices of oil brought, the PDP government did not grab the opportunity to turn around the economy. Instead, the politicians and political officeholders glee and the nation was busy, with members of the executive and legislators voting jumbo salaries for themselves at the expense of the people. Year in and year out, the budgets did not address the needs of the people, because what could have addressed the peculiar challenges of those outside government was lavished on politicians.

And Nigerians waited quietly for an opportunity to demand equity. Longsuffering and patience are virtues majority of Nigerians are known for. Even when the PDP was over due to their inequities, Nigerians kept faith with Jonathan, a fresh man for whom the people did not want to associate with the sins of his party. He was seen as shoeless and a man of humble beginning that will run a government of the downtrodden. That was in 2011, when his principal Umaru Yar’Adua died of an undisclosed ailment. Jonathan was humble, but his party was in quandary. Some of his party members refused to touch him with the longest stick as a presidential aspirant, but ordinary Nigerians in their millions came out to fight for him. The circumstances of his emergence made it so, because he was simply a green horn, in spite of his incumbency advantage. The conspiracy to deny him the presidency raised the ante making it possible for people to rally round him.

The 2011 election could not have been possible for Jonathan, but Nigerians, pauper and talakawas came together to queue behind a man who they thought passed the same road in life with them. In four years, how much did Jonathan treat the people who gave him that easy victory in 2011?

The first disappointment came in January 2012. In what seem to be a new year gift; Jonathan was to demonstrate one attitude that is common to the average Nigerian politician, which is to turn their back against as soon as they grab power. He announced the total removal of subsidy on petroleum products at a time many Nigerians were yet to return to base after the end of year celebration of that year; he simply distanced himself from them. That was the genesis of his trouble with the people. They felt betrayed and have not forgiven him for that singular action with most of them vowing to vote against him as pay back.

 

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