Jonathan for Life! by Tunji Adegboyega
Do you want peace or war”? That was the tactless question asked in a crisis situation by the principal of the federal school where I did my two-year Advance Level programme years back. Of course, trust students; the answer was predictable. It was a tumultuous “Yes, we want war; we want war”. And, in no time, the school was literally on fire. Policemen were called in and before the end of the day, the school was closed down and the students sent home.
I recalled this incident as a result of the threat by former militant, Asari Dokubo, to the effect that willy-nilly, Nigerians must return President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 if they want peace in the country. If they do otherwise, then, the militants in the Niger Delta who are presently on sabbatical would be forced to return to the creeks. “The day Goodluck is no longer the President; all of us who are on sabbatical will come back. There will be no peace not only in the Niger Delta but everywhere. If they say it is an empty boast, let them wait and see,” said Dokubo, who as leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) coordinated a campaign of violence in the oil producing areas. Dokubo spoke just a week after President Jonathan’s adviser on amnesty, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, was reported to have said in the United States that chaos would set in unless Jonathan was re-elected. Kuku has said he was misquoted though. Dokubo said he was reiterating Kuku’s prediction of “dire consequences” if the President is not re-elected in 2015. He even sounded a note of warning to our Senate to perish the thought of introducing a six-year single term for president, which would preclude Jonathan from running in 2015.
We owe Dokubo a world of gratitude for giving us the option of choosing between peace and war, instead of taking us by surprise. I can assure him that the rats at home have heard and would communicate the message to the ones in the bush. Unlike those of us in the federal school then, Nigerians are not students; they are peace-loving people, a thing many of their leaders have often exploited to their (Nigerians’) disadvantage. With Dokubo waving both the stick and the carrot (the stick should they fail to return Jonathan for a second term, and the carrot should they return the president come 2015), I know Nigerians will opt for the carrot. Indeed, that is what they should do if they like themselves and if they are not to show themselves as ingrates. What else do you do for a president who has remained true to character, a man who has served the country diligently and meritoriously in so short a period, thus confirming the aphorism that it is not how long but how well? Indeed, I doubt if any right-thinking Nigerian would oppose life presidency for our amiable and able president.
What is particularly painful is that many people who have criticised Dokubo have not even given any serious thought to his reasons. When we examine these, we would see that at some point, Dokubo was making sense. Remember that expression and the person who popularised it after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election by Ibrahim Babangida? First, Dokubo has told us something we never knew; that Nigeria is at peace today not because of amnesty granted former Niger Delta militants by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua but because President Jonathan, a ‘son of the soil’, is President. In the light of this ‘revelation’, one should be wondering what nexus exists between Dokubo and Kuku and, by extension, why the latter is still being paid from the public till if a militant kingpin is now telling us that he has sheathed his swords not because of amnesty but because Jonathan is one of their own. And, in case such people have forgotten, he reminded them that he rejected amnesty because he is not a criminal. So, those touting the amnesty programme as having succeeded had better have a rethink.
Second, Dokubo said Jonathan is holding the post for the Niger Delta region and that the region, like other regions that have had a shot at the presidency, is entitled to eight years. Are you wondering where performance is in all these? Please stop wondering, for Dokubo reinforced his point by stating that Jonathan has performed better than previous governments. Again, can you fault him? Even if it is a case of the country of the blind where the one-eyed man is king, Dokubo has floored those who see the Jonathan presidency as incompetent. More fundamentally, Dokubo’s conclusion is pardonable when we remember our class on selective exposure, selective perception and selective retention, meaning you see only what you want to see, interpret it the way it suits you and also decide whether to retain it in your memory or delete it. Even a local saying in my place has it that what is facing someone is backing someone else. So, on all fronts, including street and local wisdom, Dokubo is right: Jonathan’s government is better than previous ( I guess, PDP) governments!
As a matter of fact, I have even heard some people are wondering whether it was the same Dokubo who only a few months back, criticised Jonathan’s government and doubted his re-election in 2015 unless he removed some elements from his government, that has changed position, when the president has not carried out any such reorganisation that would have weeded out the irritants and pollutants. “The President has allowed himself to be imprisoned by some greedy individuals. His goodwill will soon go and that will affect his second term chances,” he had said. Well, that is a fact of life; no condition is permanent. Life itself is dynamic. What is perceived to be black today can suddenly turn to white tomorrow in the face of fresh ‘developments’. If you like you might begin to link Dokubo’s volte-face to the billion naira contracts that the Jonathan government gave him; that, as former President Olusegun Obasanjo said, ‘na yo toro’ (that is your business).
Still on contracts, I hear the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) too is gearing up for a piece of the action. There are reported rumblings in the ‘OOdua house’, with one factional leader allegedly threatening to throw out the other. When such threats are made, we should know what is speaking. Two things normally cause friction between two good old friends – women and money. In the Oodua case, women cannot be an issue because there is more than enough to go round. It has to be money then because, one, it is the root of all evil and second, it is one thing that is hardly enough. No matter how rich people already are, they still want more money.
But who will blame Oodua for quickly keying into this lucrative and ‘legitimate industry’ in Nigeria? All you need to qualify for the windfall is ability to cause chaos, render the security agencies ineffective and sustain it for a long time, and you are in business. Levels will suddenly change and your statement of account will cease to be a source of sorrow and disappointment to you. Indeed, once you hit it big in that ‘sector’ which is fast gaining ascendancy in the Jonathan era, it is the bank managing directors who have to catch cold whenever you sneeze.
It is in the light of all these that I want to set the ball of congratulations rolling for President Jonathan in advance, for his well deserved victory in the 2015 elections. With his kinsman, Dokubo, a former but not tired militant declaring war if the president is not re-elected in the election, the coast is as good as clear for President Jonathan to start preparing his acceptance speech for the Dokubo assured victory. The gods of this era have spoken. Militants, terrorists now rule the waves.
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