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Published On: Sun, Sep 28th, 2014

Overcoming the Jonah syndrome

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President JonathanMonday Column by Anosike Wilson

The Jonah syndrome, simply put, is the fear of realising one’s own fullest powers. It is the evasion of growth. As the Psychologist Maslow puts it “it is the evasion of the full intensity of life.” President Jonathan can be said to have suffered or still suffering from this syndrome. After being elected the President, speculations became rife if he will run for another term in office. The perplexing thought for many was, if Jonathan contest and subsequently win another presidential election, he will in actual fact be the President for nine years, exceeding the maximum eight envisaged by the constitution; the first of its kind in Nigeria. Just imagine how life and nature mocks the rules of men.

Media chat after media chat, journalists sought to extract an answer from the President, and in the midst of the Boko Haram attacks and the general turmoil in the country; of the talk of the gentleman agreement and zoning, the President deemed it reasonable to be evasive. I recall the insistence of one of the journalist—a man of Northern extraction—in his questions, couching and posing the same question in different ways. Having sensed that he will not get a direct answer, he insisted “Mr President will you run?”

The Jonah syndrome, then seen, from this electoral and political point of view is partly a justified fear of being torn apart, of losing control, of being shattered and disintegrated, even of being killed by a mere proclamation. For some people, especially those of the cited journalist leaning, the evasion of proclamation, of setting low levels of aspiration, the fear of doing what he is capable of doing, voluntary self-crippling, mock-humility are, in fact, defences against grandiosity. In the eyes of these people, Jonathan is nothing but a coward. He doesn’t have the strength to support the consequences of a proclamation. He thinks that a mere proclamation will bring the nation to a halt.

However, like the biblical Jonah who earnestly sought to flee from his call for a proclamation, the dice is cast. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – the self-proclaimed largest party in Africa, like the whale of the biblical Jonah-  not only swallowed but has vomited Jonathan onto the dry land; at the centre of Nigerian electoral Niniveh. In other words, without any criticism, any serious rebutting, the party has adopted Jonathan as their candidate for the presidential elections come next year.

For many, like the earlier journalist who talked or talks about the President’s body language, the PDP says that the era of speculation is over. They now have their answer. The President is running! Thus, like the character in the Jonah’s narrative, it is left for President Jonathan to make a proclamation—fast. This act of adoption by the PDP renders superfluous the recent “bring back Jonathan campaign.” The act throws light on the dissimilarity of such campaign and other “bring back campaigns” like “bring back our girls” and “bring back the book.”

In effect, Jonathan is not held captive by any so called pre-arrangement of the party, be it “zoning” or “one term” etc. Their answer to the ridiculous “Bring back Jonathan campaign” is “Jonathan make a run.” Jonathan’s political destiny, at least at the level of party politics, is now a question of self-destination.

On a continuum with the Jonah syndrome is the “wrecked by success” syndrome. It is said, especially by Sigmund Freud, that certain people cannot stand success after they have achieved it. They will quickly give it up or break apart. In other words, success is too much for them. They cannot comprehend their peak experience; like John they cannot stand the full revelation. They literarily go to pieces! The prophet Jonah was even ached—a rare one. He suffered a melancholy due to the conversion wrought by his proclamation. Though, in the end, he was chided for being so dumb. President Jonathan is on the race track, fully kitted and warming up. The PDP has signaled to their competitors that they are set for the upcoming presidential election; even when a crack is being insinuated in the team—that is what of SAMBO? Are we going to see a lone star? Or is the Vice a silver lining? The party has come out to denounce this as the handiwork of detractors courtesy of Metuh. The Party has the confidence that the Jonathan/Sambo team will rake in the votes.

As the political arena heats up, the big question left for Jonathan is this, “can this constriction of the field of play; this improvisation of the props of theatre just for one man, not prove in the end to be a “wrecked by success” syndrome. We urge the masses to critically examine this constriction, improvisation and proclamation by the PDP for President Jonathan. We remind them that February 14 is the action of the Polling Booth, and faced by the consequence of this particular proclamation, we  exclaim show them our “conversion.”

Anosike Wilson is on Twitter:@anosikewilson

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