Why not Change!
Before Jonathan lost the Election, a lot of well-meaning folks asked why I would board a sinking ship, especially since I was a stern critique of the ship's occupancy. As usual, the Change! people alleged I was paid to do so; it doesn't take much sense after all. Some just concluded I was intellectually blind, as Soyinka was alleged to have said. And through it all, nothing kept me going more than the condescending attitude of Change!
A lot of my publishers refused to publish my articles; one of them was bold enough to ask me which of the four categories of Soyinka I belonged to. I was disappointed. I thought journalism was all about balance; you don't have to agree with my views to publish it, it's your job. At worst, write a rejoinder to present your counterarguments. Àbí?
As my father taught me, Bí bàtá bá ti n ró láko• láko• jù, ó s•etán tí ó fé• fàya; when the traditional (talking) drum keeps giving unduly high notes, it is only warning of its demise: The momentum of Change! reeks of sabotage and cabalism. I want to be on the side of history that says, When it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true; I told you so!
Honestly, and seriously, I was gonna support Change! at the start; I wasn't impressed with Jonathan, or what the opposition of the time portrayed him to be. But Change! people insult whoever doesn't support them. And I just can't be a part of that. I believe in the right to choose freely, even foolishly. So I stayed with my enemy, since the enemy of my enemy is my friend; and that was what led me to the man himself. Same for most other proGEJ.
You see, a good leader must be able to see the best in everyone, and this has been my training ground. Upon discovery of the man's sincere and down-to-earth nature, I promoted Jonathan despite odds. But more importantly, I provided a haven for the people that Change! dismissed. I gave them a sense of belonging: If Ayk can support Jonathan, why can't I?
Change! shortchanged itself. Even though they won, you can be sure Change! coulda had a wider margin. Pity! I was scared Jonathan would have a record loss, but, as it turns out, 2.5 million votes do not justify the defeat that loomed over Freedom as March 28 neared. But that's just one reason why I am with Jonathan.
Sometime before the rush started, someone from TAN approached me when it was certain Jonathan was gonna run. I turned them down, saying Jonathan was not my preference for Nigeria. In fact, I was so angry at the very idea that I might not have replied in the nicest of ways.
But when Change! people showed their colour. I reconsidered my stand on Jonathan, because in my entitled opinion, Buhari has a history of extremism, and the last thing we need is to give him extremist supporters that Change! is. He needs follows that can contain his excesses; and not fuels to his fire
Change! needs to be enrolled in the school of political diplomacy! Yes, it is senseless and mumuish to love Jonathan and think him a hero, but we are not all smart, and you geniuses must learn to come down to our dunce levels, swallow your misplaced pride, and reason at our slow pace, to get our support and votes.
It's politics. If you can't stand the heat, stay off the kitchen!
Of course there was the bikeman who, when I asked whom he'd vote for, answered Jonathan, saying that Jonathan had not offended him. There was my blogger friend who felt Jonathan was too smart to let Buhari win. (And this is why I am proud he did not contest the results, however manipulated they were. In fact, he is said to be packing out of Aso Rock in preparation for renovations.)
And not to be forgotten is the Hausa man who, when I asked whom he'd vote for, said I would know from a mere look at him! I took a cursory look at him, and all I saw were these: he was a Hausa, and he was a Muslim.
I was of the opinion that Nigerian politics had gone beyond ethnicity and religion, otherwise I would be supporting Osinbajo, a Yoruba man from my State, and a fellow Christian! Of course, I asked if he was voting based on ethnic and religious sentiments, of course, he got characteristically angry, of course he was not intellectually blind, or blinded by Change!; of course, he knew what he was doing...
Earlier, i had been watching a programme on Channels TV one afternoon when the guest, the former Head of National Population Commission, the very one who said there has not been a (credible) census in Nigeria, was asked why Buhari should be President. He promised to give seven reasons, and as I recall, he gave much less, but he gave one of note: Buhari is from the Caliphate. I was aghast.
I grew up to tales of how, a day before Independence, the British symbolically handed Nigeria over to the Caliphate. I grew up to tales of how, at a time, nothing could be done in Nigeria without the Sultan's nod. I was hoping we were now free. But for someone so highly educated to include Buhari's ties to our slave masters to the mix was, for me, too much to bear!
I understand that the North felt it was their turn to rule. I support that they deserve, as does every other part of Nigeria, the chance to rule. I understand the allegations of born-to-rule, and the neocolonisation. But I would never support sabotage. I would never understand undermining the incumbent to ascend the throne. I would not understand promising heaven and earth to occupy Aso Rock. No, some things are sacrosanct; truth is.
If you understand the politics of BH, then you would know Jonathan was not as complicit as the opposition of the time publicised: he got played, plain and simple. And that was unfair. Shifting the Presidency across the Niger is not worth any Nigerian's blood, or life, even the Northerner's. Elections should be won fair and square, and not by undermining the Incumbent's efforts while castigating him for his failures, failures that you orchestrated.
For the lot of us critics, neither Buhari nor Jonathan deserved the mantle. While some chose Change!, I chose Freedom. I am a Democrat, after all. I therefore do not regret my role in this election. I do not regret rejecting TAN's invite. I do not regret routing for Jonathan. He is still my President, after all.
Finally, the South-West has embraced the North-West. And we Christians set apart religious sentiments in the Election. Just pray for Nigeria, henceforth.
I may be wrong. But I am true.
Ayokunle Ayk Fowosire.