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Requiem for a Hero

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

By Akintokunbo A Adejumo, akinadejum@aol.com

“I was actually in that valley on March 28, 2015. I did not want Nigeria to slide into a theatre of war, with his  fellow county men and woman dying, and many more pouring  into other nations in Africa and beyond, as refugees. In fact, it became so disturbing that some interest  groups in the United States began to predict indeed, many Nigerians did buy into this doomsday prophesy as they began to brace themselves for the worst. As the President, I reminded myself that the Government I led had invested so much effort into building our country. I worked hard with my top officials to encourage Nigerians and non-Nigerians to invest in our country to be able to provide jobs and improve the lives of our people” said ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, during a dinner in his honour by Cercle Diplomatique, Geneva, Switzerland recently.

In the aftermath of the March 2015 Elections, when ex-President Mr Jonathan conceded defeat to Mr Buhari, the immediate reaction of his supporters, both in his political party and outside, was to hail Mr Jonathan as an uncommon African hero, a man who loved his country so much that he did not want it to slide into anarchy, or worse, a civil war, where there will be blood on the streets, so he conceded defeat gracefully.

To these champions, they cited the fact that on previous elections where Mr Buhari had lost elections (three times before 2015), there had been violence and deaths on the streets, most notably in some parts of the north of Nigeria, allegedly instigated by the words of Mr Buhari then. Of course, there was no such violence in the southern part of the country, east and west or even the middle belt.  I always concur with them that this was rather unfortunate and really, at that time, I was very much against Mr Buhari considering what appeared to be his desperation to get to power.

I really cannot understand the cerebral reasons behind Mr Jonathan’s assumed heroics for conceding defeat. He ran in an election in a democratic setting; the results came and he lost, so what else should he have done? Hold on to power despite the result which showed more than 15 million Nigerians preferred Mr Buhari to the 12 million who voted for him? He must concede, of course! There is nothing heroic about it.

Yes, if he had not conceded and the country had been ripped about by violence, all blame would be on Mr Jonathan, so he really should be commended for this. It is not enough to say that at previous elections, (which were obviously rigged by the then ruling party) that Mr Buhari did not concede defeat and violence was the result, so he did not want to put Nigeria through this pain. But apparently, Mr Jonathan is still besieged by those sycophants, political jobbers and bad advisers who ensured his term in government was an absolute disaster for his own countrymen and women.

Mr Jonathan was roundly rejected and handily defeated in the polls, what choice did he really have other than to concede defeat and acknowledge the winner? Jonathan ascribing any other reason for conceding to Buhari other than his loss at the poll is saying so much about nothing.

On the other hand, with all these going around the world and saying things like this is nothing but another malaise of the typical African ruler’s mind and notion that they must always be in power; win or lose, wanted by their people or not; a total disregard for democratic norms and values and for their own people.

What sympathy, respect or laurel does Mr Jonathan hope to gain from these statements of “heroically” conceding defeat in a democratic election, if I may ask again, because I do not see any? He’s rather making nonsense of democracy in his country and confirming to the whole world, again and again, that it is a normal thing for an African leader to refuse to relinquish power in an election. It is sad.

When citing what happened after Mr Buhari lost elections previously, Mr Jonathan’s supporters failed to remind us that Mr Buhari was not in power, but in opposition, and had no control over his supporters who took to the streets, maiming and killing, and that security of the whole country is still the responsibility of government. Here, let me say that may the souls of the innocents that lost their lives in these mindless violence, rest in peace and the Lord provide succour to the family they left behind.

How can we describe the way Mr Jonathan conceded defeat in any way as ‘heroic’, with all the ‘failed’ intrigues to scuttle the elections, the last of the intrigues being the Orubebe’s infamous act, that, by divine power of God, hit the rocks; the stupendous amount of money – mostly in American dollars, that was spent (and which we now know ended in the private pockets of his chief campaigners) …and the ‘road’ got blocked inevitably?

There were elections in Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana and power changed hands in these countries, even Cote D’Ivoire by force; what’s so special about Mr Jonathan conceding defeat, after his six-year myopic, very mundane leadership style?

The special thing about the election is a people’s determination to elect who they desire against all odds, whether right or wrong, that’s what needs celebrating, not a very spurious and self-congratulatory “heroic” concession of defeat. This is not what Mr Jonathan needs to tell us at this time; what he needs to tell Nigerians, and indeed the world, is how his government managed to be so corrupt and incompetent that the economy of the country was on the edge of collapse.

Mr Jonathan will do well to discard this delusion of a hero, if he’s to maintain any further dignity from whatever little is left. If the people who misadvised him in six years of power are still the ones advising him, I am afraid he’s on the verge of being consigned to the dustbin of history with massive ignominy.

I would have loved for Mr Jonathan to go down in history as a different kind of hero, even super-hero; but, let us face it, his six years in office was more of zero. Many Nigerians, including me, took to the cold streets of London, and other cities like New York in 2010 to demand that Mr Jonathan assume the Presidency after the intrigues played out by the cabal of the now late Umar Yar ‘Adua; and in 2011, after promising a “breath of fresh air”, we were, including me again, conned into voting for Mr Jonathan. The returns and promises of our faith in him are what we are experiencing today with great pains, poverty, dire economic straits, extreme corruption, insensitivity of his officials, lieutenants and acolytes, not to talk of a destruction of our moral values, dilapidation of infrastructures and a decayed socio-economic fabric.

What separates Mr Jonathan’s hero from Mr Jonathan’s villain? As things are panning out and a lot of murky details are being unearthed about Mr Jonathan’s tenure in office, isn’t he turning out to be more of a villain than a hero?  How successful was his hero anyway? And are heroes such as him, if you insist on calling that, successful anyway?

Mr Jonathan should not be going about propagating that label of hero. He has no claim to gallantry based on conceding defeat in a democratic election. Let him and his followers a genuine epic reason for him to label a superman.

Since 2010, our former President went from hero to zero.


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