Jonathan's Book of Politics And Its Sceptics
Arguments concerning why Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the 2015 presidential elections and willingly conceded power to the amalgam party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), appear unending. And this is despite Nigerians and the world, having heard fully, from the horse's mouth.
Dr. Jonathan, the chief contestant and head of the government who should be about the most reliable person to give the narrative, has formally given supposed authoritative version of the political gist, yet, some persons are still incredulous. Thus, one is forced to question the validity of the popular horse's mouth maxim.
Before his personal account, one of his media aides, Reno Omokiri, had given positive account of the elections and the Jonathan regime, in a book titled, Facts and Fictions..., a book he adores as best seller. Finance minister under the then Jonathan government, had also narrated in a controversial book, dubbed The Dangers of Fighting Corruption, what she knows about the government, especially in the aspects of economic policies and anti- corruption programme.
Notable works that had before now taken a more critical swipe at Dr. Jonathan's concession of defeat narratives are those of an alien professor resident in the Northern part of Nigeria who wrote a political profile for President Mohammadu Buhari; Mr. Bolaji Abdulahi, former publicity secretary of the APC and a former minister in Dr. Jonathan's administration who wrote about the 2015 elections; Mr. Segun Adeniye's treatise mainly titled as Run of Play; my own 2014/2015 resesrched objective account as insights for effective political journalism theory and practice, and those of other authors, equally records the historic presidential election.
Most of the works attracted immediate reactions from Dr. Jonathan, his associates and the PDP, in terms of what the reactors described as bias and false accounts, especially meant for the writers' selfish motives and political aggrandizements of their supposed sponsors.
Some of the reasons often advanced by writers, political analysts, politicians and even some PDP top notches include lack of internal democracy in the then PDP; accordance of uncontested ticket to Dr. Jonathan; sidelining of acclaimed party stalwarts; formation of the then factional New PDP and exodus of so-called henchmen into the APC; betrayal of trust by political confidants that Dr. Jonathan depended upon and gave sensitive roles to; alleged sharp utterances of Mrs. Patience Jonathan; corruption among public office holders; misgovernance as well as Boko Haram insurgency in the North.
As if, not succeeding in effectively discountenancing these negative permutations, the man who was in the political battle, himself, came up with a formal account in a book that has become an Opus Magma. Titled, My Transition Hours. Dr. Jonathan, tried to give a lucid, rational, experiential and emotional treaties of his activities and experiences in the 2015 election and his entire political spell at the national level.
THE POLITICS BEHIND THE CONCESSION AND PERCEPTIONS OF FEAR AND SOFT LANDING
Unlike other leaders' use of autobiography books to relay their experiences, Dr. Jonathan said he instead, chose to document his 2015 election shocker. To him it was imperative to put the records straight for posterity, by unequivocally stating what he feels were negative roles played by the INEC and its then chairman, Prof. Atahiru Jega; underground sabotage by trusted allies; party helmsmen; use of Boko Haram insurgency and the Chibok girls' kidnap saga as political weapons by the APC; fuel subsidy removal protests and the hidden roles by the ousted President Barrack Obama of the USA, against his reelection.
To him, the book, is equally a platform to further dissuade the minds of present and future generations about the unending insinuations that corruption and bad governance in his tenure were responsible for the hunger, poverty and insecurity in Nigeria. According to his assertions, President Bihari's and APC's delay in setting up executive cabinet; de-marketing of Nigerians as lazy and corrupt; lack of sound economic team and workable policies as well as corruption in high places and resultant exodus of investors, were responsible for the economic downturn in the country, under the current dispensation.
Although not likely said as an excuse to shield anyone of corruption in the past, Ex-president Jonathan, deplored that he and his family have been vilified and harassed for corruption and made scapegoats of the economic woes of the country under the current regime.
Although he didn't come out plain, observers feel that by accepting the outcome of the elections, and peacefully handing over power to botch the speculated violence, the former president, his family and political associates, ought to have been let alone of any probe.
Some pundits charge that that feeling is one major reason why Dr. Jonathan hurriedly called on phone to congratulate his opponent, General Buhari, so as to get soft landing for those who would be taken up for any alleged fraud. Dr. Jonathan himself had alarmed in his valedictory speeches that his friends and associates would suffer because of his concession of defeat.
Some, loyalists of the former president as well as those from his zone or the Niger Delta region, feel that he bowed out because he lacks the liver to face any protests or was afraid of being arrested and killed by the opposing forces within and outside Nigeria. Others say, he did not win the election, so the assertion of concession of power is a wrong theory.
Good Heavens! Contrary to such blanket explanations, Dr. Jonathan has tried to deflect them in his own authored political history. My analysis might not properly capture his logical and emotional narration, so hear him directly:
"... I had reports on the polls around the country. It was clear the results were not going to favour me. Apparently, there were many instances of irregularities. There were series of problems with card readers, resulting from widespread technical hitches leading to the non-uniform application throughout the country", Dr. Jonathan narrates in his just launched book.
"For some inexplicable reason, INEC had been able to achieve near 100% distribution of Permanent Voter Cards in the North, including the North East, which was under siege with the Boko Haram insurgency but failed to record a similar level of distribution in the South which was relatively more peaceful", he painfully recalls.
To refute accounts that he was pressured to bow out, he rather stated: "... I was settled in my mind that I was not going to be the sitting President pointing out these infractions and accusing the opposition and the very INEC I helped to strengthen.
"The world saw my ordeal at the polling unit in my community in Bayelsa State, where the card reader refused my PVC, even after we tried repeatedly during accreditation. And it was the same with my wife and my mother. It was a moment that exposed the shortcomings of INEC.
“However, I was heading towards peace. Stopping the election on voting day would have been like detonating an atomic bomb. After we managed to vote upon filling the Incident Forms, I left Bayelsa for Abuja to monitor the elections and collation of results all over the country from the 29th to 31st March, 2015.
"The country was tensed ... I could no longer wait for the collation of the final results. The pressure on the country was palpable. ... One of my party’s agents at the INEC National Collation Centre in Abuja, Elder Godsday Orubebe eventually got into a heated argument with the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega. ... I knew it was time to douse the tension.
"I was fully informed about the manipulations, intrigues, intimidation and betrayals. The consequences of not conceding were only better imagined. My natural instinct for peace automatically surfaced. I was going to make a decision which reflected my commitment to that ideal. This is the foundation of my essence. ... I was prepared to promote the peace, unity and progress of Nigeria, the former president exhaustively explains and takes responsibility of his now applauded action.
Describing his action as "... a huge sacrifice", he desired that his readers would believe him for recording in the book that "it turned out to be one of the easiest decisions I ever took while in office. With my mind made up, I knew it was time to inject peace into the tensed polity, especially before INEC completed collation".
To further refute claims of any direct influences, he revealed again thus: "I was in my living room with some ministers, aides and friends. Among them were the Coordinating Minister for the Economy/Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Mr. Osita Chidoka and Waripamowei Dudafa, my Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs.
"They were recommending sundry alternatives, but I was quiet in the midst of their discussion. I hugged my thoughts, figuring out how to do that which was best for the country. My personal interest was receding rapidly and the interest of Nigeria looming large. I excused myself and left the sitting room. I walked into my study. Even here, my mantra was a strong circle around me, supporting and comforting me. Let the country survive. Let democracy survive. My political ambition is not worth people being ‘soaked in blood’.
“More reports flowed in and I could not wait anymore.
"... I reached for the telephone and placed a call through the State House operators at about 4:45 pm. A peace I had never felt since my political sojourn, descended on me. It showed me where I had been in the past 16 years and where I was then. I smiled at the thought of what I was about to do. I waited calmly for the person at the other end of my call to answer. ... I could sense his relief too...", the man GEJ, passionately recounts.
COMMENDATIONS FOR PEACE-BASED POLITICS
Encomiums have poured on Dr. Jonathan, locally and internationally, over his political demeanour; wisdom; performance in office and the authoring of a book about the historic election. Expectedly, the praises were to earn him rebuttals critics, especially some who are personally lashed in the book.
Former vice president, Architect Namadi Sambo, described GEJ, his ex-boss as meritocrat, who selected his team, even him on merit, without being too close nor giving room for lobbying. Sambo said it was the same way Prof. Jega was appointed the electoral umpire. Yet the Jega of a man, has been fingered by his forma 'Oga' as having compromised in technical ways to embarrass him and his wife, as Card Reader rejected their fingers. Prof. Jega had refuted that that the outcome of the election was true reflection of the peoples' votes.
Political hawks who plotted GEJ's fall through the then nPDP and later the APC: Alhaji Atiku Abubarka; Dr. Bukola Saraki; Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, all back to the PDP, now see the former President they called "Clueless" as a man of honour that really needs to be celebrated, a peace lover, a patriot who had all the powers to annul the election under any guise and sit tight in office, a performer and stabiliser of democracy in Nigeria and Africa. One only wonders, what went off their eyes, to have now seen Jonathan in these positive ways. Perhaps, their realignment and selfish political ambitions are at play.
Others who poured similar accolades on him are General T. Y. Danjuma; former Justice Salusi Alfa Belgore; Prof. Maxwell Gidado; HRH Nnameka Achebi, Obi of Onisha; Ex-ministers from 1999-2015, among others.
Past Heads of State in Nigeria, could not mince words in openly endorsing Jonathan's chronicle of the 2015 elections. Even Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who contributed to Jonathan's fall, lauded saying: "Jonathan, though lost election, is still honoured, as even attested to by the crowd that attended his book launch".
For General Yakubu Gowon Dr. Jonathan: "... assured African Union (AU) and other international organisations and countries that feared that the election will cause violence and disintegration of Nigeria, despite pressure on him to do other wise".
Indeed, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's approach to conduct of the electoral process and his bold posture to defeat, still stuns other countries and international organisations. " He has written his name in gold. The book is a good resource for students and politicians", former president of Ghana, John Mahama, applauded, adding that he congratulated his opponent in 2016, following Dr. Jonathan's example.
Sierra Leon is not left out of the Jonathanian influence. Its former President, Mr. Alex Koroma said "Goodluck Jonathan's support to ECOWAS, especially Sierra Leon, helped to sustain democracy in the region and country", and called on him not to relent in making more input to the development of Nigeria and Africa.
" You have made Nigeria and Africa proud. You respected human rights and rule of law. These should continue in Nigeria", Koroma charged.
The aura shows that GEJ will continue to be relevant in the globe, despite any pull-him-down antiques by his detractors. This is attested to by the position taken by the UN, whose Secretary General, Antonio Guterres through a representative,
said: "Goodluck Jonathan is a quintessential gentleman. He gave the UN assurances, that nobody's blood will spill and he lived up to his words. There was a man who contested and went to court three times. As elections come again, let Nigerian politicians again play by the rules", the UN Secretary General admonished.
JONATHANANIAN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: A NEW PARADIGM
The Jonathanian political behaviour and philosophy has become a paradigm difficult to subdue or shift, except with extraordinary rational and objective actions and postulations. Many have tried to rubbish it, but often find themselves commending the Jonathanian philosophy at one time and condemning at another time.
The Presidency through Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha said at the book launch said:
"I want to openly say as l have done on several occasions. I salute the statesmanship, courage and patriotism, for calling to congratulate me, even while the votes were still being counted. You are indeed a patriotic Nigerian.
"It is important to restate that in the run up to the election, we had a pact for peace, and you kept saying that no one's blood was worth your ambition.
" History has judged you as a patriotic leader. You are indeed a leader of now and future".
BASHINGS AGAINST JONATHAN AND HIS BOOK
Condemnations were however to later to trail the commendations. The APC, the incumbent government, party chieftains, and even nonpartisan critics lambasted GEJ and his political narratives. In similar expressions and tones, they critiqued that Dr. Jonathan basked in the euphoria of the book launch and that the book was full of lies and a self soothing adoration and a hyped narrative meant to skew facts and promote himself (GEJ), his defunct administration and the PDP. And that GEJ and the PDP were squarely defeated, as such should not colour the defeat as an orchestrated one, as claimed.
Their stance is akin to those of Prof. Jega and even that of the so-called Game Changer, Adamu Muazu, who led the party to defeat, and the game changed to opposite direction. The twosome in previous reactions to GEJ's press comments that he (GEJ) failed in the core North on his own, not by their working against him as alleged.
One of the APC's chieftains, Alhaji Kashim Shettima of Borno State in trying to rubbish accounts that Chibok girls kidnap was a political game plan, even demeaned the book, My Transition Hours, as "an elementary book of fiction". Shettima got screaming news headlines.
Stunningly, an unnamed former minister under GEJ, was quoted to have joint the fray by saying that GEJ was rather influenced to give into defeat and congratulate his strongest contender. And that, it was wrong for GEJ to have written that his ministers and aids pressured him to annul the election. The unnamed minister rather means that that fact of being advised to botch the election should have been suppressed. But GEJ, though out to have ordinarily concealed names of the Mafia advisers, rather put them in the book, objectively.
The US Consulate General in Lagos, through the public affairs officer, Mr. Russell Brooks, also criticised GEJ's book as misrepresenting facts and mischaracterising Former President Barrack Obama and the US government under him. for meddling and supporting PMB against him in the 2015 election. Mr. Brooks didn't however really react to the specific issues.
The critics of Dr. Jonathan, also re-echoed what they keep dubbing as PDP's abysmal governance for 19 years, and humongous corruption which are picked up as factors affecting the current administration's performance. Of course, certain acts of a former government could affect a subsequent one and progress of a country. Yet, a new administration's obligation is to try to improve on what was on ground before it took over power.
But GEJ, PDP and some citizens want comparisons to be based on the indices and achievements of the past governments, especially Jonathan's, in terms of Gross National Product (GNP); value of the Naira; rate of inflation and unemployment; poverty and starvation; foreign direct investments; national unity; corruption rankings; creation of more universities; health; agriculture; transportation, railway projects; electricity power projects; youth empowerment and lots more. The Buhari administration and the APC are seen by some supporters as having achieved in these regards, just as GEJ and PDP feel they achieved in their eras.
SHELVING THE DEBATE ON GEJ'S CONCESSION, FOR PRESSING NATIONAL ISSUES
Although, politics is not physical science as it deals with dynamics of human behaviours, institutions and society, hence issues are approached interpretively and with subjective intrigues and incredulity, methinks there is no longer much need to debate the narratives from GEJ, the horse's mouth. Instead, debates should focus on fundamental issues and programmes that will put Nigeria in the comity of developed countries.
The opinions against Dr. Jonathan's chronicles of the events he personally partook in, are not really important. This is besides the facts that politics though is not an exact science, still deals with facts and figures, especially in some aspects of electoral behaviour and the administration of elections and governance.
On his popular congratulatory phone call to Buhari, his strongest opponent then, and the concession of defeat, critics should ask themselves, whether a sitting president who has tasted political power from position of deputy governor to president wouldn't have been able to ignore those who claim to have influenced him directly or through prayers, and without fear of God, abort the election under any reason.
What if he had not taken the positive steps he took, and violence and disintegration of the country had occurred after the election? The incredulous people rubbishing the version of the events and interpretations from the horse's mouth, would have rather turned war refugees elsewhere.
I am not however postulating that Dr. Jonathan's personal account of the elections and his largely applauded political and leadership behaviours should stop academic, professional and civil debates. However, such discourses should be done objectively and sincerely, and even acknowledge any plausible good aspects of the story from the horse's mouth.
Like it, believe him or not, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, has said it all. And the rest is history.