Is President Goodluck Jonathan Different From Others? - Part 1
Some say he is Godsent to be the man for the moment who would change the status quo, others say he is not; some call him the lucky man with the Midas touch while others say his good luck, like the biblical Jabez's, brings ill-luck to the nation and others around him; some call him the messiah that Nigeria needs and others say Nigeria would better without him. President Goodluck Ebele Azikwe Jonathan (GEAJ) is man certainly drawn between uncritical sympathisers and unsympathetic critics. He sure means different things to different folks.
If only the uncritical sympathisers could be more critical and less sympathetic, they would have reasons to detest his presidency and if the unsympathetic critics could be less critical and more sympathetic, they would have reasons to desire his presidency.
His ardent supporters show a kind of love that is unprecedented for an occupier of Aso Rock Villa stemmed mainly from his meteoric rise to power that breaks the jinx of god-fatherism and the endorsement of the Northern oligarchy while those who loathe him see him as a manipulative opportunist who has created tension in the country because of his resolve not to respect his party zoning arrangement and his lackadaisical approach to governance.
His critics also point to his uncoordinated and unpresidential utterances; and most importantly the ill-luck that follows him with respect to his former bosses and the unrest that is characterising his presidency.
President Jonathan's supporters are euphoric about the change Nigeria needs and they are always quick to make a case that Jonathan is the man to cause the change. Their major arguments are the divine power behind his name (Goodluck) and his elevation to the exalted position of the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Force without ever campaigning for any substantial elective position. 'God must have got a hand in making him the president,' they argue. They would also stop at nothing in accusing the other candidates as being either inexperienced or old-breed; religious and ethnic bigots; untrustworthy, corrupt, tribal and lacking in vision to take Nigeria to the Promised Land.
Their assertions about some of the politicians might hardly be contestable but the real doubt is their portrayal of the president as being utterly different from everyone in the block.
I bet I'd try my best to be as neutral and fair as possible even though it is a difficult task not to take side on such a discourse.
As a non partisan Nigeria, I will use this series to make an independent analysis such that will enable a true and fair opinion on the question and see if GEJ is truly different from the lots in the block or not.
Does God have a hand in GEAJ's ascension?
As we are mostly godly people, so, I would like to answer this purely from a spiritual perspective. And as a Christian, I quite agree with the supporters of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan that he was chosen not by man but by God for particular purposes which God knows and for which He has empowered him to achieve. According to the scriptures (listed below), no single human being can rise to any position without being ordained by God. God appoints everyone in authority including all those we perceive as wicked because Proverbs 16:4 says The LORD works out everything to its proper end even the wicked for a day of disaster.
Daniel 2:21 - He (God) changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Romans 13:1 - Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Colossians 1:16 - For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
John 19:11 (speaking to Pilate) Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."
Daniel 4:17 `The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.'
Daniel 5:21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.
Going by the above scripture verses, it is certain that God was instrumental in bringing GEAJ to Aso Rock Villa for a purpose best known to Him. In the same way, God also ordained every other president before him. It is right to say God ordained Yar'Adua to be president, He also ordained Obasanjo, Abdulsallam, Abacha, Shonekan, Babangida, Buhari, Shagari……..
Whether they achieved the purposes for which they were ordained (or not) depended on them and that would be a subject of another discussion. So, President Jonathan, just like those before him and those who would come after him was ordained by God to be president in 2010.
Was GEAJ ascension unique?
The president, no doubt rose to power in a very peculiar way such that was not only unprecedented in Nigeria but probably in any other democracy. The closest to this was the ascension of late President Gerard Ford (1913 - 2006), the 38th president of the United States of America. He was the only US president who was never elected president or vice-president. On 6 December 1973, President Richard Nixon appointed Ford (who had been the House minority leader for 8 years) to replace Vice President Spiro Agnew who had resigned two months earlier as a result tax evasion and money laundering criminal charges. Richard Nixon himself would later resign on 9 August 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal and Ford rose to be the president on the same day to complete Nixon's term. He later lost the 1976 presidential election to Jimmy Carter, the democratic candidate.
The events that led to the emergence of President Jonathan showed that he never contested for any substantial position before rising to the highest position in the country. This is a position many powerful people had unsuccessfully longed to be even at the expense of their lives. Not everyone had it on a platter of gold but he did.
Back in 1998, he was brought out of obscurity by Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha to be his running mate in the Bayelsa gubernatorial race. In 2005, during their second term, his principal, the governor was convicted of corruption and he became the governor without being elected or even campaigning to be so. Also in a dramatic way and against all odds, in 2007, he was selected by the then ailing presidential aspirant, the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to be his running mate for the presidential run and so, he became the vice president on 29 May, 2007. Following the death of the president, he was sworn in as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 6 May 2010 after being the acting president for nearly 3 months since 9 February 2010 when the National Assembly invoked the doctrine of necessity.
If I would have to answer the above question in the affirmative, yes! His ascension was unique but so were those of every other president before him. The late president Yar'Adua spent most of his time as a two-term governor fighting kidney ailment and as such nobody (including himself and the members of his family) gave him the least of chance to be Nigerian president. He confessed that all he wanted was to return to the classroom as a teacher if he could complete his gubernatorial terms but against his initial opposition he became the president.
Before Yar'Adua was Obasanjo, the man who had served as the commander-In-Chief of the armed forces longer than any other Nigerian. In our 50 years of independence, he alone was the number one citizen for 11 years 7 month and 16 days. On 13th February, 1976, as the second in military hierarchy and command to the assassinated Head of State, Obasanjo was forced at gunpoint to succeed late Gen. Murtala Mohammed. His second coming as the president was even more dramatic and unique. It could only be likened to the biblical story of Joseph (who miraculously left the dungeon to become the prime minister of Egypt, a country where he was sold to slavery) or to the modern day story of 'prison to palace' of the great Nelson Mandela.
Just when his only wish was to get out of the prison alive, he outlived late President Sani Abacha who fathomed his incarceration and came out to be Nigeria's longest democratic president. In the history of the country, no president has ever been luckier than Obasanjo.
Abdusallam never ever thought in his widest dream of becoming a president, he was a product of circumstances just like Buhari who was not initially involved in the military coup that thrust him to the head. Gowon also became the head of state after Brigadier Ogundipe declined the position.
Both Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the late first republic prime minister and Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the second republic president confessed that they did not dream, plan and probably prepare to be Nigeria's number one citizens.
The unpreparedness of these circumstantial and lucky leaders is one of the reasons the nation is still held down.
Rufus Kayode Oteniya -
To be continued