Are We Seriously Begging Jonathan to Run? By Niran Adedoku
To be clear from the start, I have nothing against President Goodluck Jonathan or the tendency that he would take another shot at office in 2015. For me, it is within his right as a Nigerian to so aspire, at least for as long as no competent court of the land says otherwise.
I also think that current political dynamics in the country indicate that Jonathan is the candidate to beat when Nigerians file out for elections in February 2015, if he chooses to run. Now, concerning this last point, it seems so obvious that even a blockhead would realise that Jonathan desires another term. I believe the President and his men have given us enough signals, what politicians call “body language”, to assure us about his plans for 2015.
This is why I am unable to understand the endless parades and visitations calling on the President to run, endorsing him for a second term or collecting millions of signatures which compel a man who is in an apparent romance with the office that he has held for about four years to run again.
The current wave of activities in support of Jonathan’s vying for office in 2015 is at such a dizzying speed that one would have to pause every now and then to understand it. The confusion on the issue is on a number of fronts, some of which I will presently attempt to discuss in no particularly organised order.
Earlier this week, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, was quoted as saying that about 8,000 groups were currently rooting for the President to contest in 2015. Alkali went ahead to say: “Indeed, initially we printed 5,000 forms that were distributed to the NGOs and other support groups but the forms soon ran out and we had to print an additional 2,000. As I am speaking to you now, we have at least another one 1,000 groups demanding to be screened… we shall undertake content analysis of the reports with a view to properly positioning the various support groups for the challenges of the 2015 general elections…We want to assure every support group irrespective of its size, from two-man group to 20-million-man group that they are all important to us and we shall carry them along.”
So, I asked myself, is Alkali not supposed to be a public servant? Or, am I missing something? It is the same question that comes to mind each time I see the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, shouting himself hoarse at the rallies of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria across the country arguably the most prominent of the support groups for the 2015 Jonathan bid. So, at what point did these two gentlemen, who are experienced in public service, mix up the demanding duties of the offices that they hold with those of service to the 2015 ambition of the President, unless they are of course trying to flaunt it in our faces that the Presidency initiated and funded these groups to create a sense of popular desire for Jonathan? Unfortunately, as repulsive a contemplation as this is, it appears to be the case, given the fact that Anyim has represented the President at each of these TAN rallies. Imagine the presence of the President at a rally meant to beg him to contest in 2015. Does that even sound decent?
If we ignore the demeaning involvement of Anyim and Alkali in this charade, you are forced to ask yourself what the motive of these endless agitations could be. One day, TAN would call out millions of deprived Nigerians to a rally in spite of the risks that the administration’s health minister had told us are imminent in such large gatherings. On another day, leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students will counsel First Lady Patience Jonathan on the need to broach the imperative of a Jonathan candidature during pillow talk and on the next day, it would be the turn of some group known as the Goodluck Initiative For Transformation to threaten to sit under some trees in Abuja until Jonathan heeded their demand for him to contest in 2015 and make a declaration promptly. As if anyone cares what they choose to do with their time.
Of course, someone would argue that the “travellers and beggars” are merely exhibiting their freedom to associate and that would be true but we would also be right to pose a question to them: Why do we need to beg one out of 170 million Nigerians to continue to stay in office and on behalf of all of us? Especially when he had not given us any sign that he would not want to stay?
This brings me to the lack of originality in this initiative and the attendant lack of credibility in its wake. Nigerians will remember that the last time we were subjected to such a pathetic patronising display was during the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha. Bringing back memories of Daniel Kanu and his Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha, these current day merchants have stepped up the game. While Kanu set up a million signatures target for himself, TAN is determined to mobilise 100 million signatures!
Currently, the organisation is inching towards its ambition. After that, we can anticipate the next spectacle that Nigerians would be subjected. There would be a grand event in Abuja, possibly at the Aso Rock Villa or the Eagle Square where the President and his foot soldiers will be present.
Leaders of TAN would then approach the President after numerous condescending speeches would have been made by stalwarts of the ruling party. He would embark on an emotional genuflection, beg the President to accede to the request of these 10 million Nigerians who had vowed that their lives and that of their generations depend on another four years of Jonathan’s Presidency. And then the President would react in the opulence of his office, thank the “10 million Nigerians” for appreciating his transformation agenda and then insult our collective intelligence further with a promise to look at this request on its merit and get back to Nigerians at the right time. The hypocrites will applaud and everyone will go back home feeling accomplished.
But the ridicule of the situation is that the joke would be on those who think they are playing games with Nigerians. The pretence that the message from TAN and others does not have the stamp of the Presidency is as laughable as the suggestion that Jonathan needs some serious convincing to be part of the 2015 elections.
And it is an idea that supporters of the President should not have allowed to thrive. I think it goes to the root of the sincerity of the administration. And more than that, it raises questions about whether Nigerians desire a President whose choice to run is dependent on some sycophantic manipulation at this time of her history.
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