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Opinion: Patience Jonathan’s political Reality


By Nath Ibekwe – The news was a jolt, perhaps unexpected in some political circles but actually a realistic renewal of faith and accommodation. It speaks to real politik underscoring the aphorism that there is no permanent friend or enemy in politics. And so, the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has finally reconciled with Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State. The development has now consigned to the past reported bad blood between the duo and clearly a boost to the re-election bid of the governor.

Since her husband, former President Gooodluck Jonathan, left office in an unusual manner, making history of its own, both have hardly been seen in public. The former President is probably stretching his nerves and observing a deserved rest after a tough and hectic six-year presidency.

But history is unfolding so bitterly so soon about his legacy with a litany of alleged presidential misdemeanor: a critical issue which resonates squarely with the political reading and action of the former First Lady. Her husband’s legacy is under a political hurricane. The former president will likely be moaning his fate regarding his actions or inactions while in office especially now that the incumbent APC government is hell-bent to demonize him and his stewardship as a scam. If Lai Mohammed, Adams Oshiomhole and co are to be taken seriously, then the Jonathan presidency was more of corruption in a gargantuan manner never heard of in this country. The political scenario is being presented as if APC leaders and allied apologists are only saints who never stole a kobo in government but Jonathan and his ministers and everyone in that government stole more than they will ever need at the expense of the Nigerian people. How sad! To worsen the former president’s nightmare, his government has so far been characterised as a non-performer. That’s normal in a political war where annihilation of the opponent is right no matter the means.

But the truth is that while the Jonathan presidency may be accused of so many things, it cannot be said that it never performed, though subject to challenges, level of performance and expectations. Jonathan was not a failure as being orchestrated.

Some schools of thought believe that Jonathan will likely be well accorded his deserved place in history, in respect of his administration’s achievements in education, agriculture, transportation, infrastructure and powe. Yes, as acknowledged by President Muhammadu Buhari, the recent resurgence in electricity performance in many parts of the country was actually a reflection of the work of the immediate past government, a remarkable and honest leadership take but contradicted by many out there who ascribe the improvement in electricity to the Buhari “magic”. That’s Nigeria for you. Regrettably key figures in that government are curiously silent in the face of daily bashing and humiliation of the Jonathan presidency.

Now we need to quickly look at this issue: why did Jonathan lose his re-election? Was it actually because of lack of performance?  No. It is so simple: He lost because of naivety, trusted too many who ironically were betrayers. Many believe a coterie of powerful aides and dubious politicians misled him to promote their personal agenda. Jonathan’s performance, in relative terms, was good enough to get him re-elected. The rest as they say is now history.

Somehow, the public perception hitherto was that the same naivety was also rearing its head in his homestead, Bayelsa State, where a gang-up of his reported friends and former members of the Peoples Democratic Party were betraying decency and engaging in political chicanery by working against the re-election of his protégé, the incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson. While Dickson has reportedly remained unperturbed by it and confident of his re-election, Jonathan’s silence was taken to be an endorsement of the actions of those who defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). However, the latest news emanating from his political camp suggested otherwise which was actually reinforced by the reported change of mind by his wife to now rally round the incumbent governor. Jonathan has once again proven to be that man with few words but a leader who is conscious of his place in history.

The accusation against Dickson is the nauseating appetite for the so-called stomach infrastructure as against running a purposeful administration that is utilizing state resources to develop the state,  providing infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges, flyovers, to open up the state (Bayelsans can now drive to Nembe after 45 years it was first proposed), declared state of emergency in education by building over 250 schools fully equipped, accommodation for teachers, reintroduction of  boarding facilities across the three senatorial districts, scholarships locally and abroad, payment for WAEC, NECO, JAMB forms unfailingly, word class health facilities, economic diversification (even before the term recently became popular once again, so that Bayelsa can move away from  being a civil service state to a productive economy), instituted sustainable empowerment via SMEs and a clear eye on industrialization.

But while his performance is acknowledged, Dickson’s re-election bid means an obstacle to others with similar ambition and as such they have to join the opposition party. Invariably, none of the PDP defectors is likely to get the governorship ticket and by then another round of squabbling will begin, a rat race for political appointment. Is this the kind of politics we should be proud of in an era of change or opportunism?

It is in this context that we have to appreciate and recognize the latest action of Dame Patience Jonathan who has been so reflective in her decision analogous to pragmatic political reality. Cleary it would have been an unwise decision to support APC with the belief that she could ever have a commanding say in any APC government in case the party wins the governorship election. And what will history say about her in this respect? Will it give her greater comfort and satisfaction if APC takes over Bayelsa State having defeated the former president in a political conspiracy and now being humiliated so ferociously?  Arguably the former First Lady has taken a remarkable decision which is commendable.

Ibekwe wrote from Port-Harcour    

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