Most Nigerians’ perception of President Goodluck Jonathan, as a person, is that he is a simple and humble man thrust up by the good hands of fate. I am not an exception. A semiotic reading of his mien and demeanor would ordinarily unveil a gentleman to the core, someone incapable of masterminding the evils that define Nigeria for which he is being blamed, though some would proverbially argue that appearance can be deceptive.
It was therefore not surprising that the submission of Mrs. Victoria Boyo, who was said to be the Head of Department of Home Economics when President Jonathan was a lecturer at the Rivers State University of Education, confirmed the general impression. According to the woman, when she was approached by curious Nigerians seeking to dig into the academic past of the President, based on the aftermath of the certificate rumble raised by his false friends, “He was one of those very quiet people who couldn’t hurt a fly…He hardly participated in even campus politics but as far as his qualifications are concerned, I don’t know anything.”
The question now is: if Dr Goodluck Jonathan is an amiable fellow, who “couldn’t hurt a fly”, what then warranted the boiling cauldron that the politics of his re-election has now become? The answer to this question is not far-fetched and he himself had identified it. He is surrounded by people who would often mislead or misadvise him, most probably in furtherance of their own interests. With friends like those of the President, who needs enemies?
The enemies of Mr President are many but we can just focus on three. These are political extremists, religious bigots and ethnic anarchists. These three categories are made up of Nigerians who think they are supporting the President but in the real sense are working against his interests.
The first category is represented by a character like Chief Femi Fani-Kayode. I have always considered the choice of FFK as Director of President Jonathan’s campaign Media and Publicity as a strategic blunder. FFK is no doubt talented and few people can match his oratory and writing skills but he is grossly deficient in the finesse and temperament required of the job. In other words, he suffers from what I once called “character deficiency syndrome” and most informed Nigerians’ impression of him is that he is a self-indicting public nuisance.
I wonder how he himself would be feeling when some of his past writings and pronouncements on the interests he now represents are being used to discredit such interests. It is a political master-stroke on the part of the opposition that his words are thrown at his face.
For one, he did not actually serve the interest of the President well by playing up the certificate saga of the opposition Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, till it reached the climax. If he, as well as his co-travellers including the adversarial advertiser Governor Ayodele Fayose, had not over-reached himself all in the name of pretending to support the President, the blow-back now being witnessed would not have happened. They even succeeded in giving respected institutions drawn into their murky politics a bloody nose.
As a result of their indiscretion, the hunter has become the hunted and Nigerians have shifted their attention to the authenticity of the President’s academic credentials. There wouldn’t have been any need to be digging into the archives and combing the internet with a view to finding the President’s academic publications. Precious time and resources that could have been used to launder the image and achievements of the President have been wasted on a character assassination project with counter-productive consequences.
The second category of the enemies of the President is made up of religious bigots who openly mix religion with politics. Since they have access to stupendous wealth due to many years of manipulating the system and the poor, they mount the pulpit and pontificate on politics. One of them recently and ignominiously threw caution to the wind and charged his people to pluck the necks of other people and spill their blood on the ground. As far as he is concerned, the ticket to heaven lies in supporting the President and hell fire is reserved for his opponents.
It is not difficult to puncture such arguments and given the reactions of many Nigerians online and offline, such effusions do not serve the interest of the President. Though religion is said to be the opium of the masses, the level of political awareness among Nigerians and their perception of the flamboyant lifestyles of such pastors would not make such hubris credible. Few people would stick their necks out to support and endorse such bigotry.
Then, there are ethnic anarchists whose support for the President makes them think that other Nigerians must support their kinsman. As a way of winning our votes and demonstrating their love for the President, they acquire warships and promise us war if Nigerians refuse to vote for their beloved kinsman.
These jesters who care about their contracts and pockets assume that by sabre-rattling and fire-spitting, Nigerians would be scared from exercising their political rights the way they desire. They assume that the fear of their war would make Nigerians love the President without realising that they are undermining the interests they wish to promote.
If it is not too late, those who pretend to love the President than he himself does should change their strategy. They should rather market their product and stop the silly pastime of putting Buhari on the spot with lies and distortions, which make the popularity of Buhari to soar further. They should know that bad news is good news and that the more they resort to extreme measures to discredit Buhari, the more people would have sympathy for him.
The goodwill that brought the President to power was not anchored on the politics of religion and ethnicity. It is through persuasion that elections are won, not through threats. The basic truth is that there are two possibilities in any election; one either wins or loses. Even the winner too will lose the position after some years as there is no permanence in life.
Let peace and harmony reign before, during and after the elections; let hatred and hubris cease.
THAT ASSURANCE TO KERRY
It is commendable that President Jonathan appears to be resisting the pressure of his false friends who are true enemies, that he should postpone the forthcoming elections. The statement he made after the visit of the US Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, made my day as it further demonstrated that he would not yield to the shenanigans of those around him.
Apart from affirming the independence of the electoral body, “which makes its own decision without any interference from the government”, President Jonathan said resources required would be provided to ensure smooth elections and “that the May 29 handover date is sacrosanct.”