By Erasmus Ikhide
President Goodluck Ebele “Azikiwe” Jonathan has firmly convinced himself that in the history of all ages, there has never been spaces without master; and that there wouldn’t be any in Nigeria of today. The attacker always comes up against a possessor in various forms since the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of oppressed.
The possessors and the oppressed in this instance are the Nigerian people and the attacker is Mr Jonathan himself. The Presidency’s confusions and vacillations seemed to increase with each new month of the calendar. To him, the only alternatives are victory or destruction. He has enlisted the unshakable obstinacy of violent ethnic militias in the Niger Delta, South East and now South West to inflict maximum injuries in the minds of those who will not consider him electable, and posses it for a second term, even unto death.
LIKE a thunderbolt, the calls for the removal of Prof Attahiru Jega, the chair of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC was first echoed by the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB. The calls culminated in advertisements in both prints, electronics and social media. The campaign is so strong that a few day ago, the disbanded MASSOB militia protested in Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, among other locations in the South-East, calling for the immediate removal of Jega.
These protests were attended by violent and untoward destructions as choreographed by the PDP and President Jonathan. Characteristically, the evasive Jonathan maintained dignified silence as though he had no hands in it. While the wanton destruction of property and harassment of law abiding citizens lasted, the Nigeria Police provided cover for the arsonists to have a field day. No word of rebuke or order to clamp down on the protesters came from the Commander-in-Chief. Mr Jonathan in the past has broke up protests against his government with the same police and the armed forces. Incompetent and lazy, vain as a peacock, dry and without direction as he has been, the president could be pardoned for not showing leadership.
The aggression didn’t end there. The Oodua Peoples Congress and the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in Lagos on Monday morning led other protesters to storm the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, demanding the sacking of the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, before the March 28 elections.
The bus of the campaign group and the members of the OPC, who massed at the 7UP/Toll Gate end of the expressway, led the protesters, who were chanting anti-Jega songs, giving reasons why Jega should be sacked. The OPC members carried guns, cutlasses, pocket knifes among other weapons, occupying one end of the busy highway while some members of the groups harassed some motorists and passers-by plying the road.
Some people, who were clad in black vest, said to be beneficiaries of the SURE-P, also constituted a sizable portion of the protesters. Heavy traffic built up along the highway as the protesters, who were well protected by heavily armed soldiers and police presence, took over one part of the road, grounding movement of other road users. The protesters took time to distribute leaflets containing seven reasons why the INEC boss should be sacked. The leaflet also contained what the OPC described as the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan and why the President should be re-elected.
Earlier the National Cordinator of Oodua Peoples’ Congress, Chief Gani Adams has explained that his group resolved to endorse President Goodluck Jonathan for a second term, because of the promise to implement 633 recommendations of the report of national confab. “Yet some civil society groups have kept quiet on these issues. So, we need to move this country forward on the basis of structure and not about saying Buhari will come to perform miracle. When Buhari was in power, it was Buhari/Idiagbon government, not only Buhari. Idiagbon did much of the job in government. Buhari was just the administrator. Idiagbon was the master-strategist of that government”, he said .
But prior to the violent protest of the outlawed militia, the All Progressives Congress, APC had alleged that it had uncovered a plot by its Peoples Democratic Party counterpart to fund ethnic militias to protest and demand Jega’s sacking. This allegation has not be refuted by either the PDP or the presidency.
Vain and tactless and with incredible naivity and speed, Mr Jonathan has truly recruited and resuscitated the bloodcurdling Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC whose banal activities in South West Nigeria in the past which almost laid the urbane and sophisticated ethnic group prostrate. The consequences of arming militia terrorist group partly gave birth to Boko Haram insurgents and Niger Delta crisis for which the president himself is guilty of, and later became its victim when they bombed his house as Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.
In introspection, it’s easy to now see that President Jonathan’s successful gamble with the postponement of the polls has brought him a victory more staggering and more fatal in its immense consequences than could be comprehended. Nigerians are not certain if Mr Jonathan would heed the note of caution, almost of despair, creeping into his second term bid.
It’s yet unclear, day after day, who stands the most to gain from the chains of chaotic governance guaranteed by the PDP and Mr Jonathan in the last sixteen-years. It could be the people who barely sleep with one eye opened in virtual darkness. It’s possible it is the masses who stay awake all through the nights on empty stomachs. If Mr Jonathan didn’t stands to gain from the missed opportunities and aborted chances, why did he soil his hands with innocent blood?
In all of this, the plush official denizens who literarily took possession of his gutter government must have been having a field day. That Mr Jonathan awarded N9 billion contract to the OPC for the protection of pipelines in a country where you have hundreds of thousands of Soldiers, Police, Navy, Air Force, DSS and Civil Defence is a classical example of a gutter that comes to government.
Feted and flattered by the ethnic militia as a reformist, even by the witches and wizards, the president becomes deprived of knowing how fateful his presidency has become . With the roaring dollars all over the place, Obas defaming their crowns, Christian leader cheering obsessively on the arrival of another easy money, assurances of God’s divinity issuing forth from the ‘Throne of Grace” for his continuity gambit, echoes of victory is all the president could hear.
Well-meaning Nigerians know a thing that is unknown to the hired crowd or they pretended not to know. Should Jonathan stays beyond 2015 in Aso Rock by whatever means, the nation’s decadence economic situation would be worsened to an unbearable, even hopeless extent. The darkening time would have firmly grip a people whose only hope in the face of many failings was to have a voice in the affairs of their governance.
As things stand, whoever lights the torch of electoral fraud can wish for nothing but chaos. Nigerians are already living in the solid conviction that in our time nothing of such will be tolerated, not even a descend to the merest of manipulations. The renaissance of democratic ethos must take its full course so that Nigeria may make an imperishable contractual contribution toward the global strive for democratic space. That is the plight of the people in their proud nation and their unshakable belief in its indivisibility.
Erasmus, A Public Affairs analyst write in from Lagos, Nigeria
Follow me on twitter @Erasmus_Ikhide