The Political Permutations of a Somnambulist

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

No one knows who the next president of Nigeria is going to be; at least, not with any high degree of certainty. Therefore, all we can do is guess, engage in probability studies, political machination, or, as some people are wont to do, leave it in the hands of God.

There are Nigerians, of immense faith, who believe in prayers and in miracles and in abracadabra and all that and so believe that President Yar’Adua will be back to assume the daily functions of the Presidency. Hey, you never argue with believers, the faithful. Somewhere in Nigeria is a pool of marabouts coordinating their efforts with a cathedral full of wailers?

And then there are those — newspaper columnists, editorialists, public intellectuals, dream merchants, political prostitutes, and online commentators — who are making all kinds of permutations and Vegas-style bet on the prospect of the Acting President becoming the substantive president now and beyond 2011. Anything is possible in Nigeria — including marrying a 13-yearl child.

Out of the public’s view are the political masquerades scheming to stop the Acting President from becoming the substantive now and/or in the future. They cannot imagine Goodluck Jonathan ever becoming the President under any condition. Not now, not ever! And so they scheme — with some amount of extralegalities being directed at him.

But of course, we also have the rationalists and the pragmatists who are fiddling with “causalities and correlations.” Simplified, they see the political landscape from a very different political, economic, social and cultural lens. They ask the following questions:

1) What if Yar’Adua dies tomorrow…then what?

2) What if Obasanjo and his syndicate decide to “help” Goodluck Jonathan?

3) What if Jonathan himself decides on some amount of Machiavellian Politics?

4) What if pro-Jonathan forces, at home and abroad, decides to wage an all-out electoral battle? He may even copy renown Middleast survival strategies

5) What if the Arabians, the EU and Washington decide to carry Jonathan across the raging river?

6) What if all these forces and variables converge for the benefit of Jonathan?

Again, no one knows what’s going to happen in Nigeria. No one knows because Nigeria is not an easy place to know, to predict, to discount or to embrace. With Nigeria, you can never tell. You don’t really know. You can’t really bet for or bet against it. This is a land that has defied all explanations and all logic for as far back as one can remember. And really, Nigeria has been this way since 1914.

Since 1960, at least, it was thought that Nigeria will break up, it hasn’t; that it will join the developed and industrializing club, it hasn’t; and that a Rawlings will show up to clean house, it never happened. As to whether Dr. Goodluck Jonathan will occupy Aso Rock — as the President of Nigeria — beyond 2011, well, I am not placing my bet for or against such possibility. At least I have not done so.

What I am thinking of doing, however, is to place two bets, to hedge my chances: head, I win; tail, I win. I do not intend to be caught on the loosing side of history or of Nigerian politics. This is Nigeria we are talking about, folks. The last time I checked, I was still a Nigerian. A correct Nigerian!

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