Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo
By Michael Egbejumi-David
firstname.lastname@example.org / Twitter: demdemdem1
Interestingly, in the history of Nigeria, not one person who had ever formally declared his or her intention to run for the Premiership or its Presidency, spelt out a cogent political agenda or programme ever made it. So far, those who have occupied those positions have been “smaller” men who were drafted-in by “bigger” fishes. In actuality, all of our democratic leaders have been recruited and put into office by tribal and political warlords.
Jonathan is the latest stooge occupying our national centre stage.
We all know the story: Obasanjo drafted-in an uninterested, unhealthy and unprepared Umaru Yar’Adua largely so OBJ could stick his middle finger to the rest of the country for torpedoing his attempt to perpetuate himself in office. Also, OBJ needed someone whose performance in office would be so bad, so sad, it would make his (OBJ) time seem like the Great Renaissance. Then, he paired up the colourless Yar’Adua with an even less colourful Jonathan.
We all bear witness to the unsatisfactory result of that dastardly experiment today.
Before anybody heard of brother Jonathan, the man was a lecturer in a school, minding his own business. He left the management of his day-to-day life in the large hands of his wife. He taught some young people who were sufficiently interested the exciting life of fauna. He was utterly uninterested in the administrative end of things. Even just reading passages to a roomful of students was a painfully tedious task for him. He kept largely to himself and kept his head well down. Life was easier for him that way.
Then entered DSP Alamieyeseigha, freshly booted out of the Nigerian Air Force. However in Bayelsa, Alamieyeseigha was the Alpha Centauri. He shone the brightest there post 1998 and ruled the roost unchallenged. To keep matters that way, Alamieyeseigha plucked a docile Jonathan from the obscurity of school life and made him his Deputy. A star-struck Jonathan however continued to entrust the management of his daily life to his faithful wife.
Jonathan and everyone else in Bayelsa stood by and watched while Alams went about his grim thieving business.
But Alamieyeseigha outdid himself, and a combination of Obasanjo, Nuhu Ribadu and the British kicked Alams out on his ear and into undignified, feminised, internal exile. A petrified Jonathan was thus thrust into the limelight. Even then, for 18 months, Jonathan kept his head well down and continued to live as uninspired and as anonymously as he could as Governor.
As Vice President, the strains began to show. Abuja and national politicking was a different matter. But Jonathan was still keeping his head well down. He still left the management of his life largely in the steady hands of his wife, although Mrs Jonathan was beginning to rampage all over the place – as much as she was able to get away with under the unsmiling gaze of Turai Yar’Adua.
But Jonathan was a truly absent VP. He was not in the mould of, say, Atiku or Dr Ekwueme. He wasn’t entrusted with any genuine State or Administrative duties, responsibilities or functions and he never asked for one. He never demonstrated any discernible managerial desire, skill, or capacity. While whiling away, Jonathan tried once to play Godfather and dabble in local Bayelsa politics from Abuja. But he got his fingers badly burnt and quickly retreated into his shell. He never attempted that pastime again.
It was an unhappy and a horrified Jonathan that watched Yar’Adua’s health plummet not even halfway into their first term. Yar’Adua didn’t help matters by smoking like a chimney all the time. Eventually, his “catarrh” caught up with him in a Saudi Arabian hospital and Yar’Adua’s shell was smuggled back into Nigeria. So Jonathan inherited the big seat but not before our Northern brothers gave him a taste of hell or two.
To give credit to the man, Jonathan only wanted to see out the remainder of Yar’Adua’s term and return home to the relative comfort of the Niger Delta but others won’t let him. OBJ wouldn’t let him throw in the towel even after being mentally pummelled by some junior Northern officers/officials. The Americans would not let Jonathan give up either. In particular, the US was going through a dreadful recession and saw in Nigeria and in Jonathan an opportunity to keep in check the skyrocketing oil and fuel prices in their country. Jonathan was summoned to the White House. There, he again expressed his desire to return home but the Americans told him to man-up. They assured him that they are behind him like eczema. To help him out administratively, the Americans persuaded a reluctant Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to return to Nigeria and become Jonathan’s de facto Prime Minister.
Now, nearly everyone seems surprised that Jonathan has dropped the ball. We all seem shocked that even with a PhD, the fellow cannot pass muster. But are we right to demand from someone something they never had? How can we ask a person to provide us what he demonstrably lacks? Isn’t the joke on us?
And that has been the story of Nigeria, I’m afraid.
When you have OBJ, Mrs Patience, Leadership Newspaper, Tinubu, Alamieyeseigha, Boko Haram, Social Media and Obama breathing down your neck all of the time, what would you do? Wouldn’t you drink too - even if the kai-kai is packaged in a fetching Nestle Nesquick plastic container?