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The Improbable Hero, By Abdulrazaq Magaji

By News Express on 03/01/2017

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 •Former President Goodluck Jonathan.
•Former President Goodluck Jonathan.

It’s a little over18 months since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office. And some Nigerians are beginning to suggest that the Buhari/Osinbajo administration quit the ‘blame game’ of linking the country’s socio-economic woes to President Goodluck Jonathan’s misadventure. This is a hard take, even though it serves to confirm Nigerians’ legendary short memory. Again, the argument presupposes that Nigerians who blame Sir Frederick Lugard for creating Nigeria south should henceforth learn to button up. Did I hear you say the two are incomparable?

Of course, they are! Why, on earth, should compatriots continue to blame Lugard for a ‘mistake’ he made nearly 103 years ago? If we care to check, it is those who exculpate former President Jonathan, despite his blunders and, who see Lord Lugard, the ‘zoo keeper’, as the worst man since creation, that continue to mislead Jonathan into believing he has the stuff heroes are made of. And, not just any hero; a hero of democracy! C’mon! Don’t be ridiculous! Doesn’t the mere thought of ‘Jonathan the hero’ make you feel like throwing up?

The ridiculous idea became a matter of public discourse soon after Jonathan ceded power to his victor, President Buhari, last year. In the opinion of the brains behind the scatterbrained idea, Jonathan did the unusual, by doing nothing unusual, in accepting that he was bested by a better opponent. At a point, there was even an allusion to Jonathan’s name being on the shortlist for the 2015 Mo Ibrahim Award for Good Leadership. The idea was impatiently waved off by a member of the awards committee during a recent BBC interview.

Strange that Jonathan still believes the third-rate voodoo publicists who led him to self-destruct in 2015. Over the last several weeks, he has been busy making incredible statements to suggest that he was either privy to his name being linked to non-existing awards or believes he performed so credibly when he ignominiously executed the office of president to warrant, at least, a continental award. Few days ago, the former president even suggested that he conceded defeat last year, not necessarily because he was roundly defeated but, in his words, to avoid bloodshed.

This may inspire some hope for Jonathan. What does not inspire hope is the level of hypocricy, appeasement and the desire to be patronising that characterised the former president’s response to his loss of power last year. This arose from the way he was uncharitably portrayed as a gentleman and a man who could not hurt a fly, some of the attributes better employed to describe weak leaders. There were also those who, for wrong reasons, cast the former president in the mould of an agenda-setting national hero, a father of the nation of sort, for reluctantly conceding defeat in 2015.

Proof that ex-president Jonathan was reluctant to concede defeat could be found in his trashy concession speech, in which he alluded to ‘certain misgivings’ over the 2015 general elections. Of course, his hand-picked agent at the collation centre, Elder Peter Godsday Orubebe, a failed governorship aspirant in Delta State, gave the world an inkling of the alleged misgivings when he attempted to disrupt the collation exercise. As if to confirm that Mr. Orubebe’s voice was his master’s, a presidential speech that followed made no reference to Orubebe’s botched attempt to cause chaos.

Further proof that Orubebe was clearheaded about his intentions was in Jonathan’s recent confession that he conceded defeat to avoid bloodshed. Let’s get this right: those who hail Jonathan for conceding defeat forget, may be conveniently, that the former president had no option if he was to escape the fate of former Ivorien president, Laurent Gbagbo, now serving time in a cold Dutch cell. Truth is, threats and hate campaign by Jonathan and his wife, Patience and, their close confidants, among them supposed Niger Delta elders and militants, had placed key figures in the Goodluck Jonathan administration on the radar of the ICC!

Like the jailed former Ivorien President Gbagbo, former Jonathan may appear dour and colourless but, when it mattered most, he displayed sharp instincts to save his skin. He knew that his conduct and that of his close confidants during the campaigns and immediately after the election made it imperative for him to ensure a smooth handover. After all, the world could not have forgotten so soon that, for most part of his better-forgotten years in office, Jonathan consistently indulged his barrel-chested, yet empty-headed supporters in the creeks of the Niger Delta and looked the other way as the bandits threatened war if he was not re-elected.

A little over 18 months after leaving office, Nigerians continue to remember with trepidation, how brigands from the Niger Delta area held the nation by its jugular with encouragement of so-called elders from the region, without even a whimper in the form of condemnation from the former president. The man who now fraudulently wished to be identified as a democrat and who saw nothing wrong when his wife waddled round the country to preach her hate sermons had, by his acquiescence, booked an appointment with ICC prosecutors before he defied his handlers and proceeded to make what must be his most difficult phone call.

In the six or so years he wasted the time of Nigerians, Jonathan projected himself as a man who was incapable of taking decisions. And, if truth be told, heroes are not made of effeminate men who cannot rein in over-bearing spouses. It is not for fun that Mrs Jonathan should accept the dishonour of sending her husband into premature political retirement. From her characteristic waddle to her unclassified Okrika grammar, Mrs. Jonathan represented yet another classic example of how Nigeria became a stage for highly-placed but barely literate jesters to play out their funny acts. While it lasted, Nigerians had a good laugh at the antics of their clowning former first lady but, deep down even those who ate the crumbs off Madam’s table knew she was incapable of any good.

We should be honest enough to look Mr Jonathan in the face and tell him, quite frankly, that his tenure turned Nigeria into a snake pit that it has become. Were he a little courageous and had he improved the office of president, instead of waiting for the office to improve him, perhaps Nigeria will not be the sorry state it is today. As he was led down the wrong alleys during his presidency, Jonathan should not allow himself to be deceived into believing that he is a statesman or a hero, especially now that he is out of power.

We have to wait for a new definition of the word to creep into the lexicon before we can describe ex-President Jonathan as a hero!

Magaji lives in Abuja and can be reached at <magaji777@yahoo.com>

 

Source News Express

Posted 03/01/2017 05:26:49 AM

 

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