The anniversary of the sudden end of Late. General Sani Abacha’s regime is always dramatic. The last one was characterized with several controversies. On that day on social network, while many from the North insisted Abacha was a hero, many down South argued Abacha was a villain and that his reign was one of the darkest days of Nigeria.
As a Northerner I sympathized with Abacha but I could not bring myself to white-washing of the military dictator because, even though I cannot clearly recall how life was between 1997 and 1998, I remember faintly that things were terrible back then.
Like Gen. Abacha, Goodluck Jonathan is one of Nigeria’s most terrible leader. Many sympathetic supporters of Jonathan have been shouting themselves hoarse how, for ‘organizing Nigeria’s most credible elections ever’ and for placing a congratulatory phone call to Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan is now, overnight, Nigeria’s hero, a great democrat and what have you.
But it is not only supporters of Jonathan who have said these. Some who were against the corrupt government have now elevated the man, Jonathan, to the position of Nigeria’s hero. To these people, there can be only two explanations: 1) They are doing this only to avoid the rancor that doing otherwise may cause or 2) they were never in the first place against what Jonathan was doing with power; they only wanted power and are now glad he gave it up without a fuss.
I worry that a man who perturbed the nation’s peace by interfering in the Chairmanship election of Nigeria’s Governors Forum when he insisted that 16 is greater than 19, is now going around telling people he is a true democrat committed to free, fair and credible elections. The same man who used the military to rig the governorship election in Ekiti state, and even in the face of glaring evidence bluntly refused to investigate the matter because, according to him, the evidences were false. —He knew this without even investigating!
Let us be clear. Goodluck Jonathan is not the man who organized Nigeria’s most credible election, Professor Jega is. If anything, Jonathan is the man who tried to hinder Nigeria’s most credible election yet. He was the cog in the wheel of progress, fairness and transparency. One only needs to remember the unrest and malpractices in Rivers state and ceaseless propaganda he and his party, the PDP, doled out against the INEC chairman and against the use of the card reader —which pundits have opined is the device that made the election this creadible—to attest to this fact.
But even if for the sake of political correctness we are forced to reluctantly accept that, because he is the President, Jonathan is the man who organized Nigeria’s most credible election, how does that atone for the five years of corruption, insensitivity, vindictiveness and insecurity? Or have we forgotten so quickly, since we are a Nation of forgetfulness, how when those girls were taken away from Chibok, Jonathan did absolutely nothing—NOTHING!—for 18 days except watching his aids wish away the soul of more than 200 girls? What about the loud silence on the nearly 2,000 people murdered in Baga? What about dancing away in Kano less than 24 hours after Nigerians got blown to pieces right under his nose in Nyaya, Abuja? What about the missing $20 billion and persecution of Sarki Sanusi? What about the subsidy scam? The Oduahgate? What about the almost one-year ASUU strike of 2013? And many are still whispering that he knows a lot about the Abuja Eagle Square bomb attack of October 1st, 2010. How does a single phone call or conceding defeat atone for the pains and betrayal and failure and theft and shame and death?
It is true that many African leaders cling to power long after their mandates expires. And it is true that what President Jonathan did is uncommon and commendable but let us not behave as if in conceding defeat he did anybody, but himself, a favor. Whether he had accepted defeat or no, he would still have gone. Nigerians were clearly weary of his incompetent government of corruption as early as January 2012. If he had held on, we would have resisted fiercely and he would have gone the Gbagbo way because we are a new generation. This is a new a Nigeria where no leader—even Buhari—would be allowed to trample upon the people. Yes, lives were saved (including the lives of the wealthy and powerful) and we are most grateful to Jonathan. But it matters little now to those in war-torn areas who will wince when they remember this regime.
As we, the privilege ones still alive and safe in our homes, continue this needless debate on whether or not a single act can somehow wipe away more than 5 years of mal-administration, those who are dead cannot offer their opinion because the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria underrated Boko Haram. If the dead could talk, it would have been interesting to know whether to them, Goodluck Jonathan is a hero or villain.
(Please Plant a Tree Today.)
The writer is on Twitter @ngugievuti