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Jonathan, Yar’Adua and Buhari


Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

“Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.” – Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart

BY the close of the year 2008, it was only the naive, sycophant or inane optimist that did not see the writing on the wall – Yar’Adua’s health would be his Achilles’ heel. Then in the Daily Independent, I wrote a piece titled, Yar’Adua: Time to return home. Below are excerpts from the article.

“Fortunately, Yar’Adua has an alter ego in the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. He is equally cool-headed and unassuming. When Jonathan was the Deputy Governor in Bayelsa, he skillfully resisted pressures to supplant his governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was in police net in the United Kingdom on charges of money laundering. In a country where political perfidy is an art, Jonathan’s conduct was exceptional. In spite of the health challenge of the President, that constantly sees him out of the country, there is no evidence linking the Vice President to sponsoring fifth columnists against his boss. Again, that is uncommon in a nation where opportunism is a political culture. Goodluck Jonathan is very much like Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. (However, on transparency and accountability, as a former governor, I must confess that I do not know anything about Mr. Goodluck Jonathan.)

“Yar’Adua did not dream of becoming the President of Nigeria when he was in power in Katsina State. The presidency was placed on his laps on a platter of gold. Yar’Adua is a humble man but now, resigning from such an exalted position, no doubt, demands extra humility.

“Even the best army in warfront sometimes beats a retreat. It is not a sign of weakness or capitulation. He who fights and runs away only leaves to fight another day. President Yar’Adua has made a name for himself. He has demystified governance and made due process a cardinal principle although there is still a long way to go. His voluntary resignation will only add another feather to his cap. History will record him as the finest leader that ever governed Nigeria in its 48 years of nationhood.”

President Goodluck Jonathan  //Image: Wikipedia

President Goodluck Jonathan //Image: Wikipedia

Unfortunately, Yar’Adua did not heed my advice. He problably would have been alive today and a global hero. History has again come full circle. The current President, Goodluck Jonathan, seems to have found himself in an analogous situation. This time not about health issues but the palpable prospect of losing the March 28 presidential poll. With the bloc votes of the North, overwhelming majority in the West and some battle-grounds in the East and South-south, Retired General Muhammadu Buhari is only a few days away from becoming the President-elect. It is only the politically naive, sycophant or an inane optimist that will still contemplate a Jonathan presidency beyond May 29, 2015.

Am I then suggesting that Jonathan should throw in the towel and resign as President? No. This is an electoral contest and under normal circumstances, Jonathan should fight till the end. But is President Jonathan actually a competitor or gladiator in the 2015 presidential race? This is the crux of the matter. The way and manner the PDP-led Federal Government has been conducting itself in the race for the presidency tends towards a zero-sum goal – It’s either we win or everybody loses! This surely is not the Jonathan that I wrote about in 2008. What exactly has gone wrong?

I have heard cause to blame or even curse History. And some people asked ‘Why.’ I often argue that the man (History) is unconscionably wicked for permitting no one to learn from him. We have heard several leaders in this country and outside Nigeria who stood on the very threshold of history but blew up once-in-a-life-time opportunity. The opportunity to conduct the freest and fairest election; the chance to hand over power peacefully; the opportunity to return the country to full-blown democracy; the chance to write one’s name in gold and become a global icon by losing gallantly in a keenly contested but peaceful free and fair elections. Why is history so wicked?

I wrote about Yar’Adua in 2008, President Jonathan never dreamt of becoming the Governor of Bayelsa let alone occupying the posts of the Vice President, Acting President and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What again does anyone want from Fate? Indeed, he may go down in the history of Nigeria as the only one that had such favour of God to occupy such offices in quick succession. And you attained these heights virtually on the platter of gold. What are the lessons of life?

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” asks the Holy Book. We all often talk about the vicissitudes of life. We say life is full of ups and downs. You cannot have all the ‘ups’ without any ‘downs’. No way. And we are religious in this country. There is no Scripture that says you will always have everything in life going on fine for you. That is not God! You have always won, now if you lose just once, what is the big deal about that? Is that not itself the lesson of life? Even Buhari contested election three times and lost and he is a former Head of State. That is just life; the Almighty teaches us a lot of lessons through the vicissitudes of life. You win some, you lose some, but in the end you become a better person.

President Goodluck Jonathan should seize this opportunity by the forelock. He should immediately douse the current high political temperature. He knows what to do to achieve that. “If I lose, I will return to my home town; the presidency is not my birthright,” the President was recently quoted to have said. That is assuring, but even reassuring is the need to calm the polity from being heated to the boiling point through concrete actions. Jonathan stands once again on the threshold of history. He can write his name in gold and become a global icon, sought out by international bodies like the United Nations.

• Soyombo, a public affairs analyst, sent this piece via

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  • Patrick Esheyigba

    Sorry Mr Soyombo. it seems we are not in the same country with your analysis and conclusions. Jonathan has not lost the election and in fact he is winning it.convincingly at that.
    What’s wrong with a man seeking his constitutional right because he has been favoured in the past so he should be grateful and not finish the developmental strides he started.
    Your summation lacks intellectual understanding as a result can only be summed up as paid advertorial for the opposition.
    Sorry it is of no effect as it is easily deciphered by better reasoning.

    • Sunshine

      Very much so. Jona remains the Gladiator. This is not been judgemental, no company needs a 73 year old as chief excecutive. This is 21 century. Nigeria has grown pass that stage after 32 years. This is where APC got it wrong.

      • Chiebo

        Yes, APC got it all wrong by choosing Buhari, a 73 year old religious bigot, military sadist, democratic nonstarter, political neophyte and economic ignoramus. He should enjoy his retirement as a military retiree.

        • but buhari finally won and PDP has accepted defeat…What do you say about that?

    • New Nigerian

      He can contest – that is his right. What is not his right is to say he must “spoil-the-show” when we do not choose him in the election. Luckily we have these things called drones, so if his militants rear their ugly head we can reduce the casualty smartly.

      • Patrick Esheyigba

        Where was he quoted as saying he will spoil the show according to you. Please let’s be civilized about issues and stop reading wrongly body languages as you are wont to say. Jonathan is a complete gentleman as so many people has attested and he has said variously that he is not desperate. He is only more popular than any other candidate to win the election. Is that his fault too?

    • Diamond Nivax

      A minority from I jaw cannot win a majority from Hausa/Fulani in an EVEN contest in a polarised country like Nigeria.So its iimpossible for Jonathan to win this election except for magomago. Please wake up from living in denial.

      • Patrick Esheyigba

        Sir i so much disagree with your warped thinking. Buhari did not become an hausa/fulani overnight. He was in 2011 and lost election to Jonathan. No tribe can win any election in Nigeria on their own except with support from other tribes. A minority or not. Please it is you that needs to wake up from your slumber of lack of adequate knowledge of the polity.

        • Diamond Nivax

          I said in an EVEN contest it is impossible for Jonathan to win Buhari. You cannot say PDP versus CPC in 2011 was an even contest. Yes, you need votes from other tribes but you must have a tribe that can give you appreciable number before getting support from other tribes. Less than 3 million Ijaw people cannot make Jonathan president. Buhari has got more than 30 million votes in his primary constituency. Unless you are deluded by some sort of political voodooism you could see Jonathan heading back to Otuoke by May 29 to enjoy his loot.

          • Where are you? What you said has just come to pass

  • Lucius

    Youths of the day..don’t give ur future to dsame men that destroyed Nigeria… Let’s use this opportunity to retire all the evil men of Nigeria’s past. The likes of obasanjo, buhari, atiku, tinubu, adulsalami,…they All destroyed excellence in 9ja. God has put them in one basket for us…. let’s us join together n put them out of commission once and for all…spread d word…..#9jawillwin

    • New Nigerian

      …your option is not on the ballot. You ask for Anarchy. We want order. We would choose from the ballot box on Saturday and we’d choose overwhelmingly Buhari

    • @ Lucius – Your list is incomplete. It should include Jonathan. He is clueless and has run out of ideas. He is imposing retrogressive transformation agenda on Nigeria. You should examine where we are after 16 years of PDP rule – No electricity, no petrol, dollar is now exchanging for N250 : $1, corruption on the increase etc etc.
      The next thing is that industries will be closing down and Nigeria will be grounded – God forbid. March 28 election will help Nigeria out.

  • Ohawhuru Donnell

    Dear Mr. Soyombo Opeyemi, this is an insensible paid propaganda. Leave it for God to decide as we are closeby to election.