IF I WERE JONATHAN
It is wonderful how life turns and changes with every passing moment. Today, citizen Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who one day added a PhD to his achievements and started being addressed as Dr. Jonathan has picked another prefix to his name. He is now President Jonathan.
And by implication, Jonathan might compete with none other in the history of Nigeria in occupying high public offices in a short period of time. Since few years ago when his boss, the Bayelsa governor was impeached, he has traversed five powerful positions in quick succession. In that year, he was deputy governor and later governor. This year he had been vice president till February 9 when he became Acting President and Commander-in-chief of the federation. On May 6, he became the president, the ultimate position anybody can aspire to in any country. In less than three months, he has been through three high positions of power. Jonathan can go down in history as the leader that occupied the highest number of positions in the shortest time.
The person that could have come close to him was Jean Villot, the Vatican Secretary of State in 1978. That year, the Pope died, that is Paul IX. Villot became Carmelengo (acting pope or head of the Catholic Church/Vatican in the absence of a pope) When a new pope was elected, Albino Luciani (John Paul I) he reigned for just 33 days before his assassination in September 1978.
Villot who was later accused of having a hand in the assassination and had been penciled for retirement by Luciani before his death came back as carmelengo again. So between July and September he was twice secretary of state and twice carmelengo.
Jonathan stands in the threshold of history and people who are so much challenged by providence bear a heavy burden to themselves, the society and the forces that made them so exceptionally lucky.
Today, Jonathan is one of the leaders, and since he has been exposed to leadership opportunities so many times, he bears the albatross of giving his best or perishing among the bad leaders like IBB and Obasanjo.
But it would be so bad and unfortunate if he allows this opportunity to pass him bye. While the noise about him contesting or not in 2011 may be necessary for political reasons, it is meaningless for posterity sake. But if Jonathan who has a constitutional right to aspire in 2011 decides to run as it were, it would be foolhardy for him to reduce it to mere pedestrian cacophony where his aides instead of helping him find the bearing to that exalted challenge will instead be shopping for every forum to air their support. Such support is not necessary.
What Jonathan and his men need are work, result, serious business and not slogans. The president has all the opportunity to prove that it does not take a lifetime to create change. If IBB with eight years of dictatorship and sole administration and Obasanjo with 11 years of mixed bag of dictatorial militarism and what he called democracy could make things worse, then Jonathan has no reason to give that he had a short time. It is not about time, but about purpose. After all Jonathan is a Christian and his Bible told him that the Messiah acquired his achievements that have endured for 2000 years in just three years of work. Here in Nigeria, Abdulsalami Abubakar applied one year usefully and gave us democracy which was later rubbished by some other persons in eight years.
I am not a politician, but if I were one like Jonathan, I would not value politics now. I would value leadership instead. I know in normal societies politicians apply politics to get power and sustain it with leadership. But here it is politics here and politics there. Jonathan is not a stranger to this nation. He knew too well what is the headache here. When he was a lecturer before things turned juicy, he was a victim like all of us when the government chose to pay him when and how much they wanted.
If only Jonathan can still remember how it feels to be down there helpless, he would take up one thing that affects everyone and tackle it to a conclusion.
And he knows that the thing must be electricity. Let's forget the empty talks about sustaining Yar'Adua's legacy. The only legacies I knew Yar'Adua broached were respect for the law and making sure there was no fuel scarcity. I don't know how the new man could sustain a legacy of making sure no refinery works here or no electricity would ever be available. A legacy of endless postponement of actualizing 6000 megawatts of power should not be sustained. I advise Jonathan against that.
But if only he could take up the power problem and find a solution to it within this period, even the opposition camps in PDP will be forced to queue behind him for 2011. I know PDP doesn't value leadership or have regard for people who would serve Nigeria in picking its candidates, but I am sure a cult group that protects its interests jealously, will go for a product it will sell easily.
Jonathan has all the opportunity in the world to make himself the marketable product no reasonable party can ignore for another. If he fails to use this opportune time in showing leadership, he would be wasting his time to think of campaigning to arm-twist his party members to be picked. He has a choice to leave Obasanjo and face leadership or use him as backup file to his examples in leadership.
I bet that if he shows leadership by fixing our power crisis to an extent that all will see and acknowledge that he did well; there is no north or any other region that can boldly say he will not run next year.
Apart from this, every other argument of militants' threats of fire and brimstone and hell on earth if he is stopped would end up a hollow ritual. So, let those who would elect to fight and cause crisis to assist Jonathan win the ticket next year rather save the sweat and help him come up with laudable leadership steps. With that their assignment would be very easy and there would be no need for fisticuffs to convince anyone that Jonathan should remain the president.
I had the opportunity of being close to this man, Mr. President on two occasions. The cold and quiet man who would not betray emotions easily impressed me with his simple wisdom. The first encounter I had with him was in his hometown, Otuoke in Ogbia LGA. I had gone to Yenagoa on a mandate to interview the state chief executive. As usual, after all the 'concluded' plans before take off, on getting to Yenagoa, there was no conclusion at all. The big man had traveled to Abuja. It was a long wait for days. At last, his media man came with news that he had returned and moved straight to his town where the House member for his federal constituency had a function.
At the function where the number of cars in the convoy ended up being more than the items Hon. Clever Kisikpo gave his constituents, he tried to impress the governor by urging every member of the constituency to support the PDP so that they will get motorbikes, sewing machines and Dolmar wood saw. While Jonathan responded at the point of handing over the items to the recipients, he subtly corrected Kisikpo by assuring his people that they can benefit from governance in more ways than what the legislator meant.
According to Jonathan, the people will benefit when the government does well and rebuilds the public schools, hospitals, and roads etc to an extent that they pay less for better services. The way he said this deflated the narrow logic put up by Kisikpo and I liked him for such wisdom and sharp delivery of his argument.
On the second day of encounter, Jonathan came to The Colliseum in Ikeja for induction into the club's hall of fame. I was impressed by his answers to questions put to him especially when a man from another state 'volunteered' to be his deputy governor in 2007. While a man that came with him who was so bereft of any sense of humour decided to take the question, Jonathan still took time to answer and did that wisely to the applause of the crowd.
I guess if he applies that sober and wise mind to his work today in his new calling, wisdom will guide him aright.