The Second Coming of former President Goodluck Jonathan
By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, before I get into my main gist of today, let me quickly apologise for my inability to write this column last week. Truth is I had a mental block, pure and simple. Contrary to speculations that I couldn't write because my great heroine, Hillary Clinton, lost her election, I was just so physically and mentally fatigued because this is one year that I've worked so hard on every project at hand. There was no doubt that I was solely disappointed that Donald Trump won the American presidential election but I was able to adjust quickly. My darling mum had taught me about the wisdom of the ancient. You can put your all into any project but the results ultimately remain the exclusive preserve of God. Only God determines the winner or the outcome.
There is so much to learn from the political trajectory of Nigeria. What happened in America had happened repeatedly in our dear beloved country. I will explain in a jiffy. Who would have expected Alhaji Shehu Usman Shagari to defeat a political colossus like Chief Obafemi Awolowo? Who would have expected a Shagari to beat a political philosopher like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe so black and blue? Who would have expected a stupendously wealthy man like Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, without any political experience to take on the likes of Baba Gana Kingibe and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and come out victorious?
What Abiola did in Jos at the National Convention of the Social Democratic Party in 1993, when he mesmerised and hypnotised the party chieftains was what Donald Trump did recently in the United States of America when he razzle-dazzled the Republicans and virtually hijacked their party. Trump was lucky that he and Abiola belonged in different realms and climes. Abiola was not able to realise his dreams of running government like a business but Trump is set to take power and display the wizardry he flaunted endlessly before the elections. The world is waiting to see if Trump would plunge America into the abyss or perform the miracle of turning water into wine.
The main reason many of us non-Americans opposed Trump so vehemently was because of his supposed bigotry and divisive rhetoric on all fronts. But on a personal note, I'm not too bothered. I have learnt my lessons. Politicians can tell any ignominious lie just to grab power. Voters can believe obvious scams and vote for artful pretenders out of foolish emotions and live to regret it. There is nothing we have not seen before. It is very obvious even this early that the millions of Americans who voted for Trump may never get a quarter of what he promised. Every man has the right to change his mind or beliefs and no one can hang him for it. Trump obviously knew what the Americans wanted to hear and knew how to sell a dead horse at a premium. That is politics. His message resonated with his core base no matter how retrogressive it sounded. As a matter of fact, it became even more attractive the crazier it sounded. Politics and religion are quite similar in that they thrive on pure faith.
The same Trump that appeared a rabid hater of President Barack Obama has since visited his 'sworn enemy' in the White House. You would have expected both former warriors to exchange some terrible blows but far from it; they came out behaving like two newly joined love birds. Trump now says Obama is actually a nice guy. Obama also reassures a jittery nation and a confused global community that Trump would actually behave decently and that their allies have nothing to fear. The two opponents must have known that it was all a game all along while their followers actually believed and embraced the charade. One of the things I love about America is the ability of its leaders to rise above pettiness. Every leader comes in after a bitterest electioneering campaign to embrace the one who lost. I do not hear sing-songs of wasting too much energy on the past. Who would have thought Obama and Bush would become as close as they are now? American leaders are wise enough to know that we are all actors and must quit the stage after playing our assigned roles. We may have sharp differences but we must be able to calculate the cost of war-war against the price of jaw-jaw.
When tomorrow comes, I'm sure Donald Trump would have calmed down and welcome everyone in the true tradition and character of America. No American leader can ever be allowed to transfigure into an Adolf Hitler or a Benito Mussolini. Americans collectively are stronger than their leaders. This is one of the major reasons I'm not worried about Donald Trump and his tantrums. If he returns to the giddiness of his pre-election period, Americans across party lines would know what to do. That is the power of their democracy.
This now brings me back home. I have been reading about the rising profile of our former President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and wish to state without equivocation that no one should rule him out of the 2019 presidential race. I first hinted this possibility about two months ago and wish to reiterate that Nigerians should prepare for the shock that awaits us. The story of Donald Trump should bring us back to our senses. Nothing is impossible. The second coming of Goodluck Jonathan may be so far-fetched or even belong in those categories of impossibilities but I wish to plead with our government and my fellow citizens not to rule it out. As one of those who made our modest and humble contributions to the coming of this Buhari government, I'm pleading with trepidation.
Jonathan's popularity is rising not because of anything he has done to atone the sins that must have led to his waterloo but as a result of what our change government has failed or refused to do. The obsession of our government with going all out after Jonathan is the main reason the Otuoke man is beginning to smell like roses after the odoriferous position he landed himself last week. Only if our government had succeeded in maintaining the economy it met, Nigerians would have been ready to enter fire with Buhari. But there are just too many unresolved problems and challenges. The excuses that Jonathan and company left this peculiar mess behind has refused to fly. The groans might not be loud enough to reverberate all the way to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, as of now, but trust me it may become deafening, sooner than later. I do not care if men and women of power dismiss my submission with a wave of the hand but they should mark my word, there is a thickening conspiracy in the clouds. It would be a shame if we inadvertently play into the hands of those hovering and ready to pounce on Buhari.
I read about 'persecution complex' long ago and I understand how it works. If you beat your own child so ruthlessly as if you want to kill him, the tilt of public opinion would always go against you. Many would wonder why you want to kill your own child. In our anger, let us pick our fights. There is too much tension in the land. I would be delighted if anyone could educate and convince me that Nigeria has gained much more than we've lost to this war of attrition. If we haven't, we may need to retrace our steps urgently.
The BBC reported on Friday how Jonathan caused a stir in Sokoto State during his visit to the state to pay his respects to Ibrahim Dasuki, the late former Sultan of Sokoto. According to the report, Jonathan was received by a large crowd of admirers, some holding banners bearing the words 'Come Back Baba Jonathan'. The same voices that chanted 'Sai Baba' and 'Jonathan Must Go' are now fiddling with the tunes of the possibility of a Jonathan to stage a comeback. Here lies the irony of political triumph and the paradox of high expectations.
The euphoria and momentum that saw the exit of Jonathan and the emergence of the Buhari change administration has since begun to wane following the inability of the new government to hit the ground running with the tenacity of a government in a hurry!
There are many who believe that the poor management of the ensuing economic recession didn't help matters. Suddenly, Nigerians who had high hopes and voted massively for change are now caught in a limbo between confusion and uncertainty. As it stands today, the average Nigerian is confronted with the reality of an economic recession they never planned for; a situation they did not experience under the Jonathan administration and under previous governments.
Many of President Buhari's supporters are worried that the humongous goodwill that engineered the Buhari change mantra is now being frittered away at the speed of light. The unfolding plot has now thrown up former President Jonathan as a new protagonist in Nigeria's theatre of the absurd. For many of us who are ardent students of history, we have since learnt that nothing is impossible in the game called politics. Will history repeat itself again? Time is pregnant with answers!