A Contrarian Confronts Jonathan (1)

by Taju Tijani

Acting President, Goodluck Ebere Jonathan is not my action hero. His soft, gentle almost deceitful mien does not inspire confidence. His wry, tired smile; his effeminate gait and his lackadaisical approach to life and politics all conspire in shaping my pessimistic portraiture of the man, Jonathan. He has no tough guy Abacharist look that brings shiver to the hearts of political opponents. His ongoing political capital has always hinge on luck, luck and luck! Nigerians, in spite of the inanities of their politicians, still have a space in their hearts that harbours warm feeling toward their political oppressors. In spite of Yar’ Adua’s fundamentally flawed, tribally-driven and common sense bereft government, we still approach him with warm feeling and raised the tempo of our praying decibel once he was enfeebled with acute pericarditis. We prayed, but God in his omnipotency, still humbled him on a life support machine. The military, in behaving against known traditional weakness at the prospect of a political vacuum, did not fire a shot but instead they rewarded this nation with a warm feeling of loyalty and the cementation of our young democracy. This columnist commends the sanity of our military. However, the bastardy behaviour of the National Assembly and the cowardly FEC, in destroying the written tents of our democratic renewal, are in themselves provocations, yet some mysterious lavender calmed the Generals.

And, at the end of the day, our collective, Biblical Job’s experiment was rewarded by the enthronement of Jonathan, a South South man, as Acting President. Lovely jobly! With strange fascination, we all shouted humbug and good riddance to the bad pusillanimous rubbish of Yar’ Adua’s uninspiring rule. We all reasoned, almost hastily, that Jonathan, Yar Adua’s political shadow, will listen to voices of reason, sing from a new hymn sheet and set Nigeria ablaze with a redeeming zeal, perceived to be lacking in the genes of his Katsinian boss. There is no denying the fact that Nigerians are traditionally apostles of optimism. We project all sorts of sordid optimistic fantasies by investing hope on new faces, new projects and new songs. This sociological signpost of hope across our dark sky, Jonathan or not, has gone beyond this columnist statue of his own self-imposed limitations.

Today, I write as an incurable pessimist against Jonathan’s fairy tale slippage into the Acting President’s seat. He is not the deal. To put it brutally, Jonathan is a sissy, imposed to warm the chair; imposed to stabilize the heated polity and calm our common moan, imposed to continue the revolting proceedings of his old boss and further send this beautiful country back to the primitive age of underdevelopment and unremarkable progress. Grand acolytes, or shall we call them praise singers, have been singing the praises of untested Jonathan to a deafening level. Banal or banana as all the praises of Jonathan may sound, this columnist is known for his dispraises of Nigerian politicians and his tendency to hold them in high suspicion at all time. Nigeria is a graveyard of failed political promises and simple trust from the people. Philosophical deduction posits that all politicians are liars. At every election, we are all exposed to the shivering madness of their never-to be-fulfilled promises and visions of Utopia. Based on this depressive deduction, it is hard for this columnist to retain that soigné, chivalrous, old world courtesy with all its horrible pretences toward our new man, Jonathan. He is not my superman!

First, I want to race pass obfuscation. Who owns Goodluck Ebere Jonathan? Is he a property of the Nigerian state or the ethnic Ijaw nation? Or a custom-delivered good of the PDP? The very moment he graduated into the warm, Acting President’ seat, a proud battalion of garishly-attired, lazy, posing, Ijaw tribalists hitched the political wagon to Abuja to canonize Jonathan as their own. In the Presidential Villa, his Ijaw kinsmen must have bewitched him with empty, selfish, logorrhea of the art of governance. He must have been handed a black list of who to sack, avoid and send to political oblivion. In the gobbedy-gook of the dialect of the Ijaw tribe, the optimist’s members of the entourage may have calibrated their audacity of hope in a son they believe could be Nigeria’s version of America’s Obama. Their hope, optimism and even fear must cohabit and be mixed in abundance to show that an Acting President of Nigeria is a complex creature compared to other God’s creation. Unmindful of the political fact that Jonathan is a Nigerian and that he belongs to a party that had shamed us through inaction, we still hope that as a usurper, a caretaker a regent, he will relight our political, social, economic and cultural fire even though his party, the PDP, had kept us in darkness for almost 11 years.

Optimism in his ability is a comforting reminder of what a tolerant, democratically self-believing nation we are. Editorial pieces have been unashamedly gallant in waving banners of support. Pastoral pontifications have point to the arrival of the Messiah-Jonathan. Internet pundits are overheating their computer servers with the social grace of political possibility in a land of impossibility with the man, Jonathan. Columnists, opinion moulders, jobless elders and after-dinner jesters are all on the coaster of fantasy believing that Goodluck has some lucky surprises for Nigerians.

In all, the optimists have raised up their cupped hand of expectation in the exuberant simplicity of trust for a new face at the helm of affairs. However, I am shocked that there is yet no immunization against hero-worshipping a man whose political fortune had always rest squarely on luck. Jonathan’s followers are densely obstinate in their faith in him and the expected political miracle that is billed to shake this nation to its putrescent foundation.

In a graceless show of shame a prominent leader of the Oodua People’s Congress floated an advertorial that drips of the purest drivel. The rationale behind this propaganda is understandable in a way. The Baba, in a way, is forcing governmental intervention which will trigger a whole raft of revolutionary action on thorny issues of state that have convulsed our thinking for the almost 11 years. His first salvo is to advise Jonathan to open a new flank of discussion on matter of electoral reforms, especially the recommendations of Mohammed Uwais Report.

Then the Acting President has to amend the failure of his boss—Yar’ Adua—–who failed spectacularly in his promise to deliver 6,000 megawatts of electricity by December 31, 2009. He should give Nigerians uninterrupted power supply. Thirdly, Jonathan is in a new armlock with the emergence of a new set of progressive politicians like the Baba who is of the opinion that deadwoods have to be uprooted inside Aso Rock. He has been advised to drop the ill-fated Seven-Point Agenda for a more manageable and less risky concept. Fourthly, Jonathan has been encouraged to attack both frontally and ferociously road construction and maintenance, the health sector, Information Technology and the welfare of the citizenry among others. As a doctor, Jonathan has also been mandated to find a new cure for the comatose Niger Delta Amnesty impasse and the resurgent fire of militants who are regrouping, out of frustration, to launch new economic sabotage against this battered realm.

On the Sovereign National Conference, the message is less tedious. The Acting President is advised to organize a sovereign jamboree to address our current constitution that was foisted on us, its weaknesses and all, by the military. It is strange how happenstance has quickly erected Jonathan into a peerless hero with immediate answers for all the named horrors of this nation. The gifting of Jonathan’s reputation as a Mosaic deliverer is yet to be seen, yet we thrust on him possible ability unknown among Nigerian politici


A Jonathan’s success hinges on truncating the socially deformed policies of Yar’ Adua which have become social nuisance across the political and social realm. Can Jonathan morph from a conservative, no-rock-the-boat, loyal PDPer to a bellicose, reforming, rebellious, proletarianised Acting President without a thorough and perceptive elucidation of the strange, new direction? Without a bruising class war? The PDP, his party is an arrogant, rigging-inspired, unpretentious party of rich rogues and villains with no distinctive ideological battle cry to rescue the Nigerian masses from pain, punishment and poverty. For all the demonstrative relief of his ascendancy, Jonathan is naturally foreordained by all the complex forces of survival encircling him to fail and disappoint his hopeful admirers. He will put many of them back to the saddle of neurotic crisis of integrity that haunts virtually all Nigerian politicians. With his return, Yar’Adua can now send Jonathan notes from his life support machine and put him in perpetual arm lock.

It is not so much the hope invested in Jonathan that chills me as the thought of the cabal, neoconservative, change-resistant aides and politicians who have no match stick to bring light to all the horrible dark dungeon of this nation’s woes.

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