It is not unusual in a democratic setting, to start laying the groundwork for electoral success two years ahead of an impending election. Many will agree however that it is highly unusual to spend good three years of a four-year tenure preparing for an election to usher in another four-year term. Since last year 2012, the race for 2015 in Nigeria seems to have overshadowed all forms of governance and every aspect of political reasoning to say the least of maturity. Today, it has gathered momentum in a seeming unstoppable pace to destruction.
Many users of the social media (Facebook, Twitter and several other comment forums on the Internet) woke up to a new reality in 2012 that President Jonathan has become the first Nigerian leader to appoint a Special Assistant on New Media. The young man thus appointed wasted no time making himself known to users and consumers of the social media services. This process of popularization was soon followed by a sudden surge in a hitherto marginal stock of aggressive sympathizers and praise singers of the President in a seeming invasion of several forums. Most surprising to observers like me was less the reality of the President’s supporters suddenly turning uncouth, militantistic and foul-mouthed than their numerical upsurge at a logically mistimed period. It was a time that the President attained a climax in his serial media gaffes. He would not declare his assets publicly and wouldn’t give a damn what the constitution says. The schoolboy stage fright and glaring insecurity of a Nigeria’s President fretting on a Christiane Amanpour’s show on CNN on the fringes of the World’s Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland was fresh in memories.
When rumored insinuations then made the round that an undisclosed sum of taxpayers’ money had been earmarked for laundering the President’s image in the social media, the sudden emergence of a Special Assistant and hike in popular support became easier to understand. Ever since, President Jonathan has recorded a huge success in gaining followers and buyers of his image product more than he has covered grounds in real governance and accomplishments.
At the center of all these efforts since 2012 has always been 2015 on the President’s mind. Ironically, the President is yet to state unequivocally that he seeks to be re-elected in 2015 even though this has meanwhile become the world’s most poorly guarded secret. In spite of all modesty and innocence in the President’s aura cladding his steps and body language en route to 2015, his deeply concealed sense of viciousness and brutal determination to cling on to power even at the cost of Armageddon is beginning to take observers by surprise as time passes by.
The veiled threat insinuated at the initial stage when hints were made of the President’s ambition, that the Niger Delta militancy may become difficult to control without Jonathan has since made way for an open threat by Asari Dokubo of Nigeria’s disintegration if Jonathan does not have his way.
Then came the judicial release of one Major Hamza Al-Mustapha from high-profile homicide charges, whose hanging many had thought was a done deal. The release of this once-dreaded young military dude from incarceration was less the surprise – after all, the judicial process is deemed independent – than the quiet insinuation that trailed the court judgment in a Nigeria of anything goes. Purported inside sources gave a sneak view into a tiny corridor that seems to have shown the project of Al-Mustapha’s release and rehabilitation as one that was dear to the President’s heart. It was difficult to believe. Today however, seeing the alliance between this former fugitive and the fire-brand creek fighter Asari Dokubo in the pooling of individual resources to salvage 2015 for President Jonathan, one hardly knows what to believe anymore between rumors and visual realities.
Worse still, was the completely botched project of disorganizing the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. The project ended up in absolute fiasco for the President who chose to offer an official reception for his favored Governor Jonah Jang – in the status of a laughing stock Chairman of the Governors’ Forum. Yet those social media supporters of the President who are partly sponsored and partly ethnically biased, always find arguments to package a dark, soiling coal as a bright, glittering gold. The caption was 16 greater than 19.
As if that was not enough, the Rivers State fracas followed with another embarrassing attempt to impeach the Speaker of the peripheral legislature. What transpired as another disaster for the image of President Jonathan was white-washed by his image makers as a by-product of Amaechi’s inordinate ambition. The caption was 5 is greater than 26.
It culminated in the formation of a “New PDP”, mediation efforts by an ostracized Obasanjo that was suddenly rediscovered as acceptable in polite society only to be ditched again with accusations of masterminding the split in the very first place.
Nigeria is now dancing to a theater of absurd lyrics in a political mess that couldn’t have come with worse tidings. Leaving no stone unturned in the catalog of consuming catastrophes, it is now becoming obvious that the nation is facing a serious financial crisis in the midst of huge oil earnings. Free-for-all looting of the oil sector in cash and crude oil has become the unenviable hallmark of the Jonathan Presidency. Illicit refineries reportedly litter the Niger Delta; they are run by people who are not unknown to the powers that be and the President declares openly that he lacks the courage to identify corrupt people by their names for fear of being attacked. The Federal government is unable to pay allocations to individual states thus breeding a time bomb that is waiting to explode. Yet we have a former Vice President of the World Bank as the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy. If anything, the biggest loser in the Jonathan equation has become Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala whose reputation has now taken a serious hit for complicity in a culture of cleptocratic impunity. A lady who commanded hope for many optimists after she quit the Obasanjo government on the basis of principles after engineering the feat of debt-repayment is now ending up rubbishing all hopes for a better Nigeria. Many including myself, saw a presidential material in Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Why she keeps on hanging to her position in a free-for-all looting government in which she is obviously unable to introduce any meaningful change simply beats all imaginations.
In spite of all these however, President Jonathan wants to hang on to power in 2015 and is prepared to go to any length to achieve this goal. The latest item conjured from his bag of tricks with a wield of the magic wand is called “National Conference”. It is indeed, pseudo-surprises of this sort that gives President Jonathan his unique position as the most unenviable, least intelligent President Nigeria has ever produced.
While many Nigerians will wholeheartedly welcome genuine discussions on charting the future path for the patchwork coexistence of Nigeria as designed by British colonial adventurism, President Jonathan’s transparent fraud packaged under this label is the least Nigeria needs at this very volatile stage. President Jonathan’s relatively amateurish presidency often loses respectability on account of the ease with which people see through his political designs, which he often thinks are packaged as surprises. His bleeding nose from the NGF surprise and Rivers Assembly surprise does not seem to hurt badly enough to impair another blunder in the valley of surprises.
In spite of the political and financial woes that the country is currently suffering, the President is setting up yet another Advisory Committee (one among countless and fruitless committees) to provide recommendations on a National Conference – not to organize the conference itself. Such recommendations will be subject to approval or rejection by the President – a President that has hitherto consistently rejected the notion of any conference on Nigeria’s sovereign existence pointing to the duties of elected representatives.
While it is easy to see through the President’s 2015 strategy in the establishment of this committee, he is obviously unable to see the uncontrollable implication of any inciting recommendation this committee may end up making. The President will have the ultimate prerogative of rejecting or approving any such recommendation by the committee but will be powerless nonetheless in approving or rejecting any public agitation that such recommendation may trigger.
In the end, the President will hold the four aces in confronting his opponents for the presidency while the committee would have successfully hacked off their “fair share of the national cake”. “Agree with my re-election or I will approve recommendations to start the process of splitting the country!” A trick of choice that may bear hazardous consequences. If parties are entrenched in obstinacy and stand their grounds, the worst case scenario will be designed to see Goodluck Jonathan reelected as President not of Nigeria but of a breakaway Niger Delta Republic.
It remains to be seen, if the theory will match practice. The current state of Nigeria is the type that would have long warranted military intervention in days gone by. Not today anymore. How the scenario plays out then will remain anybody’s guess but Goodluck Jonathan deserves all sincere wishes of good luck with the intense hope that he scales through the tempest unscathed.
Follow me on Twitter @FriskyLarrimore
Frisky Larr (M. A.)
Radio/Television Journalist/Communication Scientist
Govt.-accredited Translator/Interpreter of the English language