Monday, February 8, 2021 2:52 am
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
There are speculations that moves are on to ‘bring back’ former President Goodluck Jonathan to the seat of power in 2023. Nothing is concrete. It has been all rumours and speculations. It is said that under the arrangement, Dr. Jonathan will be drafted into the ruling APC. He would then contest the presidency, win the general elections, and serve only one term, having served as president before. Power at the federal level would return to the north. There is something odious, manipulating, and perfidious in the proposed arrangement, if confirmed. For the sake of the survival of country and the health of democracy, my advice is that our meek, humane, and humble Dr. Jonathan should not take that path!
Every federal system works out a formula for power sharing at local and national levels. A sense of belonging is fundamental to the constituent parts of the federation, especially a country that is multi-ethnic. Any ethnic nationality that sees itself playing second fiddle in a federal state cannot be satisfied with the terms of engagement. Yugoslavia and the old USSR have split into different nations after it became clear that their national aspirations could not be fulfilled in the old arrangement.
Also, if a section of the country produces the wealth (like oil from southern Nigeria) and finds that political power is concentrated in the north to the detriment of the country, there would be discontent and reactions. There is great discontent right now in all parts of the country. Pockets of militia are beginning to spring up with the objective of defending their portion of the earth if push comes to shove! It is scary. It is dangerous. It must be stopped by the federal government.
In Nigeria, power rotation between the north and the south has become a convention, a necessity. Of course, if whoever was elected president ran government affairs with patriotism, using the entire country as their base, no one, perhaps, would be clamouring for a rotational arrangement. As an academic, I appreciate competence, efficiency, and the capacity to dream big for the nation. Competence can be found in all parts of the country. But the Buhari years have reinforced the narrative that all sections of the country must have a shot at the presidency because it has been the winner takes all in terms of federal appointments. A terrible legacy if you ask me!
If re-elected in 2023, President Jonathan would technically have only one term to rule, having both completed President Yar Adua’s term and ran a four-year term in his own right. If he wins under the APC flag, it could be argued however that he must run two terms because his first coming was under a different platform. But why do some retrogressive forces want Jonathan to run again in 2023? The scheming is clear even with half an eye. A second Jonathan presidency will guarantee an early return of power to the north if Jonathan is limited to one term. This is not a proper spirit at this stage of our history when all hands need to be on deck to save the nation from a conflagration.
Democracy is not about a person in power. Or about how indispensable a man is. Democracy is all about institutions. Strong institutions which can defend the liberties as enshrined in the constitution. It is about the people and the people in action. Democracy is for the betterment of the people by concentrating positive efforts on the common good. It is about the power of the people. It is also about strong political systems which include political party systems and the role of the opposition in the development of a democratic culture. Within the context of Nigerian politics, a second Jonathan presidency under another platform makes rubbish of the party system and the strength of institutions. It shows how desperate the controllers of powers are in creating puppets. It reinforces the absence of ideological or principled commitments to certain minimum standards in the political arena.
The basis of the unity of the nation is being severely and critically interrogated and challenged currently. The terms of the union between north and south seem to put citizens on edge. Have we created a monster that promotes the ascendancy of the north over the south? Is that why herders in the forests across the country believe that the land mass of the country belongs to them? That the oil found in the Niger Delta belongs to the north? On what basis? The idea is so preposterous that it does not bear a discussion.
The political class must sit back and have a rethink. They must ensure that they do not put their private or personal interests above that of the nation. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is crucial to this. I expect him to work with politicians in the south to produce a credible candidate in the PDP. Dr Jonathan made his name in the PDP. He contested and lost under PDP. As we know, PDP is no different from APC. They are birds of a feather. They are designed by politicians as special purpose vehicles to achieve their goals. The most ridiculous spectacle was the Edo State shenanigan that made it possible for the two main parties in the governorship elections to switch candidates – PDP in the previous election became APC and APC in the past became PDP!
This therefore is beyond Dr. Jonathan. His disposition after the loss of 2015 has made him a darling of some forces in the system. To some he is malleable and will not ruffle feathers or challenge the status quo if he re-emerges. But he must contend with other stakeholders especially the Igbo who are positioning themselves for the coveted presidential seat. He also must contend with the Jagaban forces in the south west. In the end, whoever is thrown up by the political class must put Nigeria first. An ethnic president is not the best. If an ethnic president is sure to guarantee peace, prosperity and security in his home region, the north would have been singing beautiful choruses now. But ask the people of Maiduguri, Kaduna and Katsina whether the security and economic conditions of their homeland have improved with the coming of President Buhari. The answer is blowing in the wind.
Eghagha can be reached on 08023220393 or [email protected]