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After listening to President Obama’s ‘State of the Union Address’, I concluded that America’s specie of democracy is near-perfect and looks like ‘made in heaven’ kind of democracy; I concluded that Nigeria politicians are only being mischievous when they tend to draw comparison between a near-perfect democracy like America’s where sanity prevails, where the people matter most in all policy advocacy and implementation and Nigeria specie of democracy where the people {the masses cum electorates} are used as  stepping stones towards self-enrichment by the political elites; A specie of democracy where the people are detached from their leaders; a specie of democracy where ‘Party Decisions’ are regarded more supreme than the National Constitution and where youths are more party conscious than national conscious.

In the said address, I watched in adoration how the parliamentarians cheered the great speech of their President beyond partisanship.  I did not see the republicans booing the President on grounds of party affiliations. I did not see one party staging a ‘walk-away’ because the speech was not delivered by a President their party produced.   I saw gentlemen and ladies, men and women who celebrate unity in duality.  I saw patriots who believe that region, religion or party affiliations should not form the central basis for decision taking and policy implementation.  I saw the beauty of democracy when President Obama alluded that the victory so far was the by-product of strategic collaboration beyond bi-partisanship.

Back home, Nigerians have been watching events unfolding both at National and global levels. Within the global level, the former President of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan is raking in many prized awards and recognition, perhaps more than every other African Leader, dead or alive.  From America to Europe, it has been award and recognition galore, yet the man at the centre of all these accolades looks like an unsung hero in his own home country. He has been branded everything evil much that when homes are broken, former President Jonathan would be blamed.  He is in everyday news in Nigeria as though the incumbent has resolved to push all blames to Jonathan’s doorstep should they fail to deliver all the bogus electoral promises they consciously or unconsciously made the hapless Nigerians.  Two things are possible here.  It is either the ‘International Community’ does not see things in our own way or that we as a people are so myopic as not to value what we have.

In Nigeria, everyone has feigned incorruptible and saintly. Only Jonathan has been branded as the ‘inventor, author and finisher’ of corruption and possibly the only one that should take the blame for the perennial corruption that has eaten up the common wealth of Nigerians.  Every Nigerian politician nowadays hides under the shield of anti-Jonathanism to clean up his or her mess as though all you need as a prerequisite for joining the ‘fold’ is to invent an anti-Jonathan slogan or make some mockery remarks around him.

However, don’t see me as Jonathanian.  I didn’t vote for former President Jonathan during the last general election neither did I cast my vote for the incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari.  I withheld my ‘sacred’ vote because of my personal apprehensions. However, my sympathy for Jonathan was stemmed from what I term a calculated one-sidedness where every politician, present and past and their praise singers are now hauling all blames and woes on the door step of a man who has contributed his quota; a man who has scored credits for handing over power to an opposition in a continent that hardly see incumbent peacefully handing over power to opposition.

Today, Nigeria is seeing former President Jonathan as the inventor of their woes and national calamity.  Opposition then opined that his cluelessness led to the challenges Nigeria faces today.  This is heard from most speeches by current public office holders.  The current Minister of Health even accused former President Jonathan of being the cause of the current ‘Lassa Fever Menace’ for not implementing the National Health policy. Now, there seems a calculated attempt to ridicule the former President Jonathan further, a trap that President Mohammadu Buhari does not need to fall into. Rather, President Buhari should see an opportunity to explore with his predecessor cashing in on his rising international recognitions and acceptance.

Interestingly, while we are here casting aspersions on the former president and branding him according to our myopic political promptings and according to what we have heard and made to believe, the global power brokers and international community are celebrating Jonathan.  They are seeing what we are not seeing.  They seem to have seen a man who stripped himself of destructive ego and ceded power to an aggressive opposition. They see a man whose ambition did not tower higher than the lives of countless Nigerians.  They see a man who upheld the virtue of tolerance in the midst of damning provocation.  They see a futuristic leader who may not have amassed all the experience to lead a complex country as Nigeria but was learning faster than the self-branded political adepts.  They see a man who strengthened democratic institutions like INEC and to some extent the Judiciary and availed them the independence they need.

President Mohammadu Buhari needs Goodluck to soar Nigeria’s image globally.  He needs it.  Nigeria needs a lot of global branding especially at this point in time. Jonathan could fill in this gap and become an agent of the much preached change since he has warmed himself either by commission or omission to the arms and hearts of the international community. President Buhari should rise beyond one-sided advice of his ‘praise-singers’ and learn how to make good use of the man the International community revere.  In the hearts of many Nigerians, Jonathan remains a hero and that could be proved by the number of birthday wishes he received online during his last birthday.  Jonathan received more birthday wishes than any President in the world.  Again, in the just concluded 2016 Annual National Political summit, Jonathan {though represented} received award as ‘Nigeria Hero of Democracy’ and the ovation that followed the announcement was unprecedented.

This suggestion to use Jonathan as a ‘branding’ tool may sound like a taboo in the ears of the ruling APC promoters. It is a suggestion that can stir them to brace the gallows for one’s neck. Goodluck to them looks like bad luck that will ruin all the chances they have to stay politically afloat.  A self-acclaimed oracle of God has once branded the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan bad luck.  Nigerians have unbridled quest for religiosity and subtly discards spirituality.  Religiosity has characterised our worship so much that the created is revered more than the Creator.  We fear the words of the created more than the Creator. We swallow every word spoken by them whether of the spirit or of flesh hook, line and sinker. Those godly ‘oracles’ understand our vulnerability.  They know our limitations and yearnings and at every given opportunity, they cash in and tell us ‘Thus says the lord’.

Whether the advice to co-opt former President Jonathan in international image branding is coming from the lips of the Buharians or from that of a pen-lashing critic like me which many may accuse to be Jonathanian, President Buhari truly needs Goodluck. Since this suggestion may stir unhealthy controversy in some political quarters, permit me therefore to say that this piece of advice is not dedicated to an average vulnerable Nigeria who has consistently been caught in the web of ignorance and myopism, sentimentalism, regionalism, religiosity or even political rascality.  It is a harmless suggestion that may benefit the Nation more than it benefits the writer.  At this point, Nigeria should rise above those sentiments that keep dwindling our collective fortunes and do the needful to steer the ship of the nation to safe shores.

Iheoma Light Shedrack

{Author/Social Rights Advocate}