Jonathan growing endorsements as national consensus
By Abubakar Galadima
It is the season of endorsements. As the 2015 presidential elections draw nearer, groups and organisations lend their support to whoever they believe is best suited to pilot the affairs of the Nigerian state. For President Goodluck Jonathan in particular, endorsements have been pouring in like torrential rain. He has received endorsement from a wide spectrum of the polity, even as he is yet to formally make an open declaration.
Among groups that have signed on for him are regional organisations from all the six geo-political zones, eldersforums representing a cross-section of Nigeria majority nationalities, women and youth organisations, professional associations and Nigerian welfare associations in the Diaspora. Significantly, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) “the umbrella body of all Nigerian students “ last month, joined in the endorsement spree, calling on the President to run for a second term in office next year.
With these endorsements, the circumstances that underlined the 2011 polls appear to be playing out again: once again, it appears that the Nigerian nation is coalescing into a national consensus on who should carry their mandate in 2015. The objective here is to analyse the groundswell of public support he is receiving against the backdrop of high expectations following his initial election in 2011.
NAN hinges its support on the fact that under Jonathan, government support for students issues in particular and youth development in general, is unprecedented. Also, the administration has impressed by its recognition of student bodies; and it may not be entirely coincidental that six past NANS leaders are holding important positions in the administration. As its President, Yinka Gbadebo, who led the National Executive Committee members of the association on a courtesy visit to the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, noted, Nigerian students have never had it so good; hence, their support for the administration.
Like the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Northern Alternative Forum (NAF), National Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Professionals and Business Groups, the Elders from South-South and Middle Belt, the South-West Coalition and several others before it, the NANS endorsement is not based on parochial reasons. It is a clear appreciation of government superlative performance in the social, political and economic transformation of Nigeria.
Under Jonathan watch, the nation is set on an irreversible course of development which can only be enhanced by his continued stay in office beyond 2015. More importantly, the endorsements send the clear message that the expectations of the last four years have not only been met, they have also been surpassed.
Four years ago, the expectations were indeed high. Though Jonathan electoral victory in 2011 made a profound statement, symbolising for Nigerians the spirit of national re-awakening and breaking of all regional, ethnic, traditional and religious boundaries, the anticipation of good performance was equally fervent. If the circumstances of his involvement in the contest and the nature of the stiff opposition that accompanied it are considered, the uniqueness of his victory becomes even more appreciated. Jonathan entry into the contest on September 18, 2010 had elicited strong resistance from certain politicians who introduced ethno-religious sentiments into the issue. In due course, the major issue in the presidential campaign moved from zoning to questions over Jonathan character, national appeal and the ability to perform in office.
Good enough!Unlike many, he came without the taint of a fraudulent past; he also brought into the contest, a certain persona of humility that few of our leaders can be associated with. Those who taunted him by saying he was anonymous were partly correct; no particular ethnic group could totally encircle him. He was not clannish but belonged to all Nigerians and saw himself in that Pan-Nigerian picture. The electorates were therefore offered the opportunity to make a choice based on the contending issues on which the Jonathan candidacy was hinged on. The arguments were -and still are – at the heart of our national problem.
In a country well known for divisive national politics, Nigerians voted Jonathan and, in doing so, bequeathed in one man a pan-Nigeria mandate. His victory proved that, indeed, he belonged virtually to every square meter of Nigeria. The fact that about ten of the presidential candidates of other political parties stepped down for him before the Saturday April 16, 2011 presidential poll was itself significant in the unity of purpose it brought to our political diversity. For a man who is not from any of the major ethnic groups and whose emergence was unusual, his mandate becomes an extra-ordinary opportunity to reinvent our nation.
The question must, however, be asked: what is the worth of the studentsendorsement to Jonathan? Considering the numerical strength of the students across Nigeria and the symbolic import that they are leaders of tomorrow, the endorsement is weighty indeed. For one, they represent the bulk of the Nigerian youth who, if one adds the women, are special group that cannot be discounted in aggregating the collective interests of the nation. That the Nigerian students have become much more politically active and perceptive is not in doubt; that they have the wherewithal to give push to a cause they are committed to is also not contestable.
More significantly, the series of endorsements speak to the President performance in office. The millions who voted for him in 2011 have definitely not been disappointed, going by the job approval rating that the endorsements signify. It all leads to one conclusion: the 2015 presidential poll may end up affirming our oneness under Jonathan as a candidate of national consensus.
Galadima sent this piece from Kaduna via [email protected]
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