Almost from the time he became the governor of the state, he was despised by a segment of the populace. It was assumed that time will heal whatever wound and friction there was; but for whatever reason, it was not to be — culminating in his attempted kidnap and the eventual events of May 16, 2007. But how did a man this amiable, this sharp-minded, and this unpretentious become the lighting rod and target for violence and political antagonism in his own state? No one really knows the precise answers, however, one was able to knit together some of the answers through a series of formal and informal conversations with some of the best political minds and observers in the state. The prime question I posed was “What went wrong?”
And so what went wrong is at the center of this treatise. The concluding section (part 3) will attempt to critically investigate the state of the state and the state of things to come. As of this moment there have not been systemic or empirical explanations as to why Goodluck Jonathan became the bull’s-eye, and why he is not universally loved. More investigation needs to be done by those on the ground and in the creeks. But until then, what one is left with are assumptions and speculations as offered by observers of Bayelsa State politics.
Failure to Support Alamieyeseigha:
That Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was a loyal deputy-governor is beyond debate. The legend was that he never questioned or picked a fight with his boss, Governor Alamieyeseigha. He towed his party’s line and also acquiesced to the will and wishes of the Governor. It was said that he was a reluctant deputy with no visible interest in eventually becoming the governor; and even if he was interested in the position, he was never overt about it. That was the case until the events surrounding the bail-jumping and impeachment of Chief Alamieyeseigha.
It was alleged that he failed to “swim and sink” with his boss when President Obasanjo began the impeachment move; and that he was too willing to desert and tow Obasanjo’s line. Jonathan’s actions, in the period immediately following Alamieyeseigha’s magical return to Bayelsa State, was therefore considered a betrayal, a treason against the popular will of the people. Hence he was marked as Obasanjo’s lackey, a man never to be trusted! The way it was told, “Anyone who willingly obliges OBJ is an enemy of our people…”
The Issue of “Core Ijaw”:
When it became apparent that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was going to “win” the primary and subsequent gubernatorial election, a segment of the Ijaw community began calling his Ijawness into question. The way the argument goes: “how could an Ogbia man, a non-core Ijaw rule over majority Ijaw?” In other words, it was an abomination and a sin for a member of the minority to lord over the majority. For them, it was, and still remained unforgivable. Those in the know continue to point to this core versus non-core as one of Jonathan’s biggest huddle.
Adding to the core issue is the “transference of hate.” Here is how and why: Governor Jonathan Goodluck’s wife, according to what’s been said, is about the most hated First Lady in Nigeria. Several atrocities has been laid on her doorstep, i.e. the death of a former commissioner; abuse of state power; misuse and mismanagement of state resources; hubris; blatant corruption; and the allegation that she runs a parallel government. All these and other reasons made a segment of the population wonder, “how could he allow his wife to hijack the apparatus of state?” And so whatever hate and distrust they had for her was transferred to her husband. Those who questioned his Ijawness joined force with those who see him as weak for allowing his wife to run the show.
Although he is eminently qualified in his own right, there is the widespread belief amongst the Ijaws that Governor Goodluck Jonathan was selected by President Obasanjo to be the Vice-President primarily because of the pressure coming from the Creeks and waterways of the Niger Delta. In other words, without the actions and pronouncements of the freedom fighters, Jonathan wouldn’t have been chosen by Obasanjo. The unguarded utterances of Jonathan were therefore considered a treasonable offence.
This supposition is given credence by Chukwudi Obi who opined that the Governor was attacked for blasting “his own sons, kinsmen and citizens, the Niger-Delta militants, branding them terrorists and armed robbers.” Or as Chidi Nwosu noted: “Obasanjo has never described OPC as armed robbers; nor Ojukwu labeled MASSOB; but Jonathan called MEND armed robbers? Don’t you see this might have incurred the wrath of his people?” For Opubo G. Benebo, “when I first read about the blowing up of the house of Jonathan Goodluck, I remembered something one sports figure in the USA once said: How long do you call a man a dog as well as kick him, before he finally acts out a dog and bites you in the leg or worse?” These and most other comments suggest that Goodluck Jonathan “got what he deserved for his unguarded and unwarranted comment.”
Failure to Support Doukpola:
When Governor Goodluck Jonathan was selected by President Obasanjo as Governor Musa Yar’Adua’s running mate, the belief was that Chief Francis Doukpolagha — generally considered the most popular, most likeable, and most effective politician in the state — was going to replace him as the PDP gubernatorial candidate. And indeed, and for a while, his impending candidacy was welcomed and celebrated by the people believing he will emerge as the PDP candidate for the 2007 election. But this was not to be.
No one knows exactly how Doukpolagha’s candidacy was torpedoed, but it was alleged that Dr Edmund Daukoru (an emerging godfather in Bayelsa State politics), along with some power blocks within and outside of the state “circumvented the people’s will” by replacing Doukpolagha with the eventual PDP candidate, Mr. Timipre Silva who happens to be Daukoru’s nephew and onetime personal assistant. This move did not sit well with the majority of Bayelsans. Even though Doukpolagha was Jonathan’s choice, “he did not make his preference known; and even when he did, he was not forceful enough to fend off Daukoru and others thereby forcing on us a man we did not want.” This perceived failure paints him as too weak and lacking backbone.
The 2007 General Election:
Even though Governor Goodluck Jonathan did not conduct the elections and was not directly responsible for the outcome, his mandate is perceived as illegitimate, illegal. And even though there is general calm in the country, the “boys in the creeks are not going to stand for this nonsense.” Against all odds, Timipre Silva won. Goodluck Jonathan’s comrades and associates won. And he also “delivered” the state to the PDP during the presidential election making an already volatile situation boil over. “To say majority of Bayelsans hate the PDP is an understatement.”
The Asari Dokubo Factor & Radicalism:
There are those who belief that “the governor is not doing enough to have Asari Dokubo released.” The question was, “How many times has he spoken in favor of Asari, and how many times has he condemned the actions of the federal government” In addition, Jonathan is not radical enough for the taste of the Creek in that there is no overt or covert support from him for the Niger Delta struggle. “Obama is not black enough; Goodluck is not radical enough,” was the quote. As far as the major players in the Creeks are concerned “Jonathan must be seen to be on their sides, otherwise he is on the side of the enemies.”
As Symbol of Elite Decadence:
One would have expected the former Governor Chief Alamieyeseigha to be the symbol of elite decadence in Ijaw land; but alas, Goodluck Jonathan is so perceived. For years now, the Ijaw elites have been non-responsive to the cries and yearnings of the common man in Ijawland, and it was only a matter of time before the people, especially the youth, revolted. It could therefore be argued that Jonathan was a “target of opportunity or target of convenience.”
In the end, whether any of the assumptions offered by political observers in Bayelsa State holds water, or not, is difficult to know. No one truly knows why Goodluck Jonathan has become the target of hate and hostility. One could guess here and there in addition to the red flags that are every where. In the midst of the rubbles, the smoke and muddy water what is clear is that with the bombing of the governor’s home, the people and the elites are now tethering on the Rubicon. The more I think of all these, the more I wonder: Is this pay back time? Has the Chicken finally come home to roost? Those who create monsters may themselves be consumed by the monsters they created.