Few minds are as clogged and warped as those of some past Nigerian leaders. With a clumsiness that is legendary in the face of expected clear-headed thoughts, they have floundered, wasted golden opportunities to do good and write their name in gold; and are responsible, largely, for the state of affairs of a once promising yet potentially great nation called Nigeria. And whereas some of their actions can be excused (not rationalized), the fact remains that an opportunity once lost can never be regained.
Between Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida – the latter is a self-confessed protégé of the former – on the one hand, and out-going Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, there is now a gulf in terms of mindset and statesmanlike conduct. Whereas Babangida’s albatross, the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, can be excused on the grounds of hostage-taking and deadly military politics, only a fool would have any explanation to proffer for Obasanjo’s greed and pursuit of a third term other than that he just wasn’t satisfied with two terms of eight years as President and Commander-in-Chief. He wanted more. And when he couldn’t get it, he paid Nigerians back by imposing Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Jonathan on Nigeria. To see Obasanjo come in the open and wax pontifical about who has ruled well or not and who deserves to be replaced or not is the very height of shameless conduct.
But rather than waste time on an entity whose relevance in global politics continues to drop altitude, the piece would focus on the essence of good conduct, sensible decision and a sacrifice that is at once incumbent and self-manifesting as exemplified by Jonathan’s acceptance of defeat even before the final results of last weekend’s presidential election were announced. These, compared to Obasanjo’s discombobulating and selfish interventions in Nigeria’s political sphere.
For Jonathan, it was fitting that he did what he did.
Whereas some had argued that the President had no option than to concede, Nigerians easily forget that Obasanjo once described Babangida as an elephant in a Chinaware shop that needed to be carefully guided out while at the same time positioning himself to become Head, Interim National Government, HING, in 1993. And rather than side with the popular crusade of the time to get the June 12 presidential election result validated, Obasanjo told the world that MKO Abiola was not the messiah Nigerians were waiting for. Making a good choice between good and evil is not as simple as people sometimes think it is.
It was on this same continent of Africa that one Samuel Doe, against all entreaties, plunged his country, Liberia, into war, insisting that he must “see it to the end” – the war saw his end.
Moammar Gaddafi of Libya had the option of a soft-landing in exile but chose to stay put. What has become of Libya today is not different from the ruins that Syria, where President Assad, after the death of over 125000 people, is still clinging to power, has also become.
Pray, how has war started in the history of the world? One wrong decision or a bad choice has almost always led to conflicts.
The symbolism of Good Friday and Easter is hinged on sacrifice, the type paid by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
In political terms and Nigeria’s political times today, that Jonathan did what no Nigerian leader, living or dead, has done marks him out as well as places him heads and shoulders above an Obasanjo. Just one false move; a wrong-headed acceptance of ill-advice from the hawks inside Aso Rock Presidential Villa, would have thrown Nigeria out of kilter.
But Jonathan chose to swallow his pride, humbled himself and made the all-important phone call to General Muhammadu Buhari.
It is instructive to point out that the selfsame Buhari had contested elections in Nigeria in 2003, 2007 and 2011 and at no time did he concede or make the type of phone call Jonathan made.
It all the more becomes more provocative to mention here that had Jonathan not been positioned to be the one to put a lie to the prediction that Nigeria may break up in 2015; and had he won a free, fair and credible election, would the All Progressive Congress, APC, and its presidential candidate have accepted defeat? Ponder that!
For President-Elect Buhari, he would need to learn to tread softly and not allow those who would surround him hence, feed into his paradigmatic world view of spontaneous and kneejerk reaction once he becomes President and Commander-in-Chief.
An example would suffice to buttress the possibility that a Buhari defeat might have spelt doom for Nigeria.
In the face of provocation and frustration of gargantuan proportions occasioned by the episodic failure of the Smart Card Readers, SCRs, during penultimate Saturday’s elections. Nigerians persevered, were patient and eventually voted; at a time when Jonathan was calling for patience and sympathy for INEC because there were early hitches, Buhari’s response was simply to the effect that these hitches should not be blown out of proportion and the cancellation of the election would not be acceptable. That should not be the statement of a would-be President.
It is pertinent to point this out because just as some around President Jonathan exploited his meekness to feed fat and deceive him, the hawks around soon-to-be President Buhari, sensing his proclivity for spontaneous reaction, could engineer actions that may not be in the interest of his government or Nigeria as a whole. There are lessons to be learnt here.
In the whole of this, the greatest loser is Obasanjo. From the moment he fell out with President Jonathan not because of his love for Nigeria but for selfish and self-serving reasons, Obasanjo sought to first discredit and then destroy Jonathan. Not that Jonathan did not sometimes deserve to be lampooned and pilloried, an Obasanjo, with many baggage and garbage strewn round his neck, was never a fit person to cast the first stone – or any stone at all.
Indeed, Jonathan’s disposition of demure demeanour, and the symbolism of a man either confused or too weak and scared to act and, therefore, recoils in self-pity and preservation, all came together to work for the good of Nigeria last Tuesday when President Jonathan humbly called to congratulate President-Elect Buhari.
From the jaws of near-total embarrassment and shameful defeat, Jonathan snatched heroism and praises from both within Nigeria and abroad with that singular act. Whereas unlike Jesus Christ, Jonathan did not put his life down, the sacrifice of swallowing his pride and accepting defeat in this season of Easter, something the likes of Obasanjo could never have related with, marks him out as a true nationalist and a sacrificial lamb for Nigeria’s democracy. That he has even stopped his party from going to challenge the results of the election in court is even a far greater sacr ifice.
Culled From Vanguard.
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