I have just read Chief Tony Anenih’s A Thought on 2011 Presidency and Party Leadership published, Tuesday June 22. It was an interesting read and even though it provoked my thoughts on the topic at hand, it did not trigger it. I had observed the goings on on the political terrain and I decided to do a piece on the expediency or otherwise of Goodluck Jonathan running for the presidency in 2011. If other issues like the FIFA World Cup had not engaged me the way they did, perhaps my own thoughts should have come before the Chief’s. Nevertheless, one thing I am sure of is that they may not have provided the benefit of hindsight that Anenih’s piece presented. So, rather than feel as if my own piece will resemble a rehash of the Chief’s, I feel somewhat vindicated that my own thoughts are on track.
The long and short of what is going on is that a group of Nigerians is losing sleep over the speculations that Goodluck Jonathan may run for the president next year. This group is jittery that if Goodluck Jonathan [hereinafter referred to as GJ], eventually decides to run for president next year, his ‘luck’ will shine again thereby dimming the North’s hope of ever getting close to the corridors of power in the next decade. The arrowhead of this northern cabal is General Ibrahim Babangida, a man most Nigerians hold very responsible for many of the woes of this country. One of the arguments against IBB is that he got to power without anybody’s permission and left the place much worse than he met it. Recently, he mopped up a rag tag company of his ilk to Abuja and this ilk has threatened to do everything within their power to stop GJ in his tracts. According to this cabal, there is a gentleman’s agreement called ‘Zoning Formula’, in the PDP [thank heavens it’s just in the PDP] that says that political power must revert to the North after the unfortunate demise of Umaru Yar’Adua. For me, this gripe establishes a perception that the PDP has a rigging machine on ground that guarantees that anybody that picks the presidential ticket on that platform automatically becomes Nigeria’s de-facto president. Otherwise, why should IBB [whose right to contest remains as unquestionable as that of GJ], not just take his unpopularity to AC or DPP or ANPP and contest there and see if he could win?
Even though Tony Anenih’s write up did not address these questions directly, he attempted to provide critical analysis on the zoning formula of the PDP. He said and I quote: ‘Over the years, [sic], the purported zoning arrangement was observed more in breach than in practice, especially in 2003 and 2007’. I cannot but agree more with the Chief, and with many others who have said that the only way to credible elections is for everyone to be given a fair chance, not relying on used condoms that are IBB, Atiku, Buhari and Ciroma. If there had been a zoning formula in the days that IBB conducted his ‘freest and fairest’ election, I doubt if a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the Abiola – Kingibe ticket would have been possible. If there was a zoning formula in the UK, I very much doubt if those Yoruba chaps who contested the election and won would have stood any chance. If there had been a zoning formula subsisting among the Democrats, I doubt if a Barack Obama could have become president of the United States. Therefore, while the Americans are busy developing their ‘Yes We Can!’ philosophy, here we are, contending with a zoning formula that IBB and his ilk want to use as cheap blackmail against the rest of us.
Some elements in the North who are campaigning for the subsistence of the zoning bullshit say that it would only be fair to allow them another shot in place of our dead president. In politics, what is fair? In politics what is free? In politics what is noble? Let me tell you: what is fair is always foul, and what is noble is sometimes ignoble. There is nothing seemingly wrong with wanting to impose yourself as leader but what about every other person in Nigeria? Why must it always be the Northerners running things? Are they the most educated? Are they the most intelligent? Are my brothers in the North the most cerebral? Are they the best footballers, scientists, educators, politicians or soldiers? What is there in their veins that the rest of us do not have? What about all the other ethnic nationalities endowed with sons and daughters eminently qualified, if not for anything, but the fact that they are also Nigerians? As a nation and as a people, the time has come to take a stand. We have come to the point, whether as Northerners, Westerners, Easterners and Southerners, we have come to the point where we must insist on merit rather than on mediocrity of zoning, in the things that concern us all.
Now to President Goodluck Jonathan, I must speak with you directly now. YOU MUST CONTEST THE 2011 ELECTION. You must. You must contest that election, not just because you want to be president, but also because you are qualified to do so. You come from a section of this country responsible for producing all the monies that those rascals at the National Assembly are fighting over. Your community has been devastated by oil spills since you came of age. You have gone to school, and bagged a doctorate degree. You have been a teacher. You know where it pinches Niger Deltans and you know where it also pinches the generality of Nigerians. You have this one chance in a lifetime that ordinarily will not come to you again in the next millennium. If you chicken out now by playing the nice guy sir, you would go down in history as the biggest loser and coward ever. You will never be able to go back home to your people again. Take the plunge sir. Hit the iron now while it is hot. Just take the plunge. Heat the polity if that is what it takes. Perhaps that is what we all need to defrost the ice surrounding our collective existence as Nigerians. Mr President, you must run.