Erediauwa on 2015: What is Jonathan waiting for?
By Nicholas Ikejiani
“You can never tell a bad market-day by the morning.” This weather beaten Igbo proverb cannot be any truer with the way events panned out for the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, on Friday, April 25, this year. The week began rather on a troubling note for Jonathan with a reckless and seditious letter from the Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako, a retired navy chief, accusing the President of sponsoring “genocide” against the entire northern part of the country.
That Nyako wrote his inciting gibberish when the President was building a multi-partisan peace coalition among the 36 governors of the federation in the search for the much-needed solution to the Boko Haram insurgency really rankles. It is quite reassuring that the political elite and indeed the Nigerian people were quick to see the cheap ethnic and regional sentiments that a failed governor intended to whip up. While Nyako failed in raking up his parochial “we-versus-them” solidarity, the nation and indeed his colleague-governors did not spare him any indignity for writing that infamy. Yet in spite of Nyako's attempt to spoil the week for Jonathan and Nigerians, it ended on a high for two reasons.
First, the 36 governors of the federation, for once, agreed to bury their political differences in the national interest as the nation confronts her most difficult challenge since the civil war. The second cheery news of the week for the President was the visit of the special envoy of the monarch of the Benin Kingdom to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. Ambassador Eheneden Erediauwa, the crown prince of the Benin Kingdom, came to specifically deliver a very important message from Oba Erediauwa I, to the President. And the message from the royal father to the President is clear: “My father is praying for Mr. President in the Benin Kingdom. He is praying for him fervently to be able to withstand the pressure. He sent me to let Mr. President know that the spirits of the ancestors of the kingdom are with him and they will see him through. ..He also prays that the opportunity will come for him to continue the good work he is doing in Benin and other parts of the South-south for at least another term….”
The visit of the special envoy of the Oba of Benin and the message he brought are significant in many respects. That the visit is important is signified in the fact that His Majesty, the Oba, carefully chose his first son, the crown prince, as the messenger. Those who understand the Benin tradition can attest to fact that the Oba sent the crown prince because he does not want any word in that message to be wasted or lost. That is how important it is. The message, itself, coming at a time when some politicians think that intimidating Jonathan and elbowing him out of the race in 2015 seems an attractive strategy is ever so timely.
When Nyako penned his memo accusing the President of unprintable atrocities, what was at the back of his mind was cutting down Jonathan with 2015 in the picture. When some governors elected under the PDP ticket especially from the North together with other notable politicians defected from the ruling party to the All Progressives Congress (APC), their mission was simply to intimidate Jonathan out of the 2015 elections. And when desperate turncoats like Rotimi Amaechi are recruited by a dying oligarchy to attempt to weaken the home base of the President, it was all aimed at striking fear in Jonathan. Even so, there are many who are yet to be convinced that the escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency is not unconnected with the threats from some quarters to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan.
And, when an Emir begins to brag about how his kingdom extends beyond the Nigerian borders to the Cameroons, let him be told that his veiled threats are fully decoded in the South-south. So those thinking that President Jonathan is an orphan from the minority who can be cowered out of continuing the great job his doing, fixing our country, must have a rethink now.
The Benin monarchy is never known for its partisanship. As a matter of fact, this particular Oba has come to represent the finest of the integrity and the tradition of justice and morality of the institution. Oba Erediauwa I, has his place assured in history as a king who has earned the respect and trust of his subjects – and many people outside his vast kingdom. So, when the monarch says that the President is doing a good work, then we have to listen because the Oba is not famed for flattering people and politicians. Instead, he has made his mark speaking truth to power. And when the Oba is convinced, he can grind his axe intently without minding whose ox is gored as long as he is on the side of the common people.
In truth, the Oba of Benin is seeing all the transformation going all around his kingdom in the South-south and the other parts of Nigeria. He is seeing the roads that crisscross Benin, for instance, from all parts of the country, which were hitherto highways to hell but now in excellent condition; he is witnessing the steady but methodical approach to ending the power generation and distribution problem which past regimes appeared to have no clues on; His Majesty is constantly observing a President advancing the course of democracy by promoting personal freedoms and liberty even at the risk of being labelled weak, against the background of the muscular regimes of the past; he is experiencing in his life and time the commitment of a Nigerian President to the radical transformation of agriculture from the drudgery of yesterday to a profitable business creating wealth, jobs and farmer prosperity.
As usual the Oba of Benin did not throw in his support for President in an imprudent manner. He took his time, observing events and situations in the land. He rightly noted that Jonathan has been under tremendous pressures from those who do not want him to succeed; and, in spite of that, he is posting a superlative performance. And now he is convinced that the President deserves to be supported for another term in office. Those who know this Oba quite well can attest to the fact that he is not flippant with words and neither is he associated with frivolity. If he is asking Jonathan to take another shot at the presidency, then he must be convinced about it. When Oba Erediauwa I, endorsed Chief Oyegun for the governorship of Edo State in the aborted Third Republic, the slang in Benin then was “follow who know road.” When he recently endorsed Adams Oshiomhole for a second term to the chagrin of the PDP, the Oba was bold in telling the President to his face that his people are still enjoying the dividends of democracy being supplied by the Comrade Governor. And trust Oshiomhole, he ran with that royal endorsement knowing that he could take it to the bank. So if the Oba of Benin is asking Jonathan to run for a second term, then what is the President waiting for? As it is said in Latin, Alia Iacta Est, the die is cast!
Ikejiani, a public commentator, wrote from Port Harcourt.