OP-UNEDITED | Between Light and Darkness – By Timothy Abiodun T
Rather than insisting or forcing their opinion on others, some people are, by nature of the habit of even wishing their opinions are not respected by whoever they are trying to advise. They do this so that when a decision backfires on their neighbour, friend, relative or acquaintance, they just laugh and say “I told you but you wouldn’t listen”.
I watched with keen interest the events that took place in Nigeria between 2014 and 2015 and how Nigerians conspired against themselves to put this government of chain (not change) into office. While I tried to convince a few friends who were understandably angry with some fundamental flaws of the Jonathan administration by telling them that the solution to headache is not by cutting the head off, I was still wishing in my mind that they didn’t listen so that for once people could learn how to believe me and respect my views.
It’s really interesting to note that the same Nigerians who were screaming “Sai Baba” about a year ago are now singing “Bring Back Our Jonathan”.
We told them but they refused to hear but its better now that reality is staring everyone in the face. There is no fuel or even money to purchase same from either white or black market and our Baba is junketing all over the world without showing any iota of clue towards the solutions to our myriads of problems, both the ones he created and the ones he met on ground. Its becoming obvious that this change is “one chance” as some of us indeed predicted.
Fellow comrades-in-struggle, its been over eight months since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn-in after winning election with a campaign of change and several promises, some of which he is now denying and most of which he has proven that he lacked the capacity to fulfill.
One fundamental campaign promise which President Buhari has flagrantly disobeyed will be the main theme of this discourse.
It would be recalled that few weeks to the March 28th 2015 poll, the then Presidential candidate went to Chatham House in London to admit that he was indeed guilty of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the military during his first missionary journey. He in fact told the whole world that he had now become a born again democrat.
Fast forward to 2016, it has indeed become obvious that rather than repenting as he promised, the President has descended further into the abyss of dictatorship. Watching President Buhari’s performance during the last media chat especially his reasons for the continued, illegal detention of Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu, even medieval-era tyrants would have turned in their graves, and pitied the woe of a nation under the vice grip of a man whose tendency to press the destruct button anytime is obvious.
While Nigerians are worried that the government has no serious policy direction, President Buhari has however adopted disobedience of court orders and other undemocratic practices as state policy.
The sort of intolerance the President shows to opposing views is out of this world. And this is the same man whose historic emergence was made easy by the magnanimity of another man, great man and the then ruling party.
This now takes us to the democratic credentials of President Buhari’s predecessor. Let’s recall that in 2007, when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo was trying to impose Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua as his successor, he famously declared that the election was a do or die affair, saying it was either Yar’adua or no one else. We can all recall that election was bloody and regarded as one of the worst in the nation’s history.
Fast forward to 2011 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was contesting against Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) as a sitting President, his own unforgettable, quotable quote was something like “My election is not worth the blood of any Nigerian…”. This went a long way to douse tension and we had the most peaceful election which was also adjudged the most credible in the nations history after the MKO Abiola June 12 1993 election.
The gospel according to Jonathan was that there was no need for any politician to be desperate during election and that the people must at all times retain the right to choose their leaders without any form of interference.
Electoral reforms was one of the cardinal achievements of Jonathan and he executed it with vigour, dedication and trademark selflessness.
He opened the political space and accommodated all shades of opinions. He was tolerant and receptive to all forms of criticisms, both the objective ones and the destructive ones, from politicians and the media.
He signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law to pave way for journalists to carry out investigative reporting and support the government’s anti-corruption fight. He made life easy for media professionals even though the media was unfriendly to him throughout his tenure.
Despite all these, Nigerians preferred a man who denied people their fundamental human rights and used his obnoxious Decree-4 to jail journalists unfairly and stifle the press.
In his trademark, heroic magnanimity, Dr. Jonathan chose to let go when it became obvious that he had lost the election to General Buhari. One credit he was content with was that he had been able to conduct another globally acceptable free, fair, credible and transparent elections which he and his own party even lost. This was rare in Africa.
Jonathan was the first sitting President to lose re-election in Nigerian history not because he didn’t perform but because he was the first politically mature President who preferred to build institutions and improve the democratic credentials of his nation in the committee of nations rather than forcefully push through his individual ambition.
His heroism did not only save Nigeria millions of lives which would have been lost to another needless killings, it also won him deserving awards by many of the world’s leading democratic institutions.
Jonathan shocked people who were still doubting his God-given grace and humility by calling to congratulate General Buhari even when some of his supporters didn’t like it and before the umpire called the final results.
This went a long way to save the nation from another avoidable bloodletting. We recalled that in 2011 when Gen Buhari lost to Jonathan, hell was let loose as innocent Nigerians were killed by Buhari’s supporters. The man also refused to congratulate and recognize Jonathan. In fact, Buhari stopped attending Council of State meetings since he started losing elections to PDP candidates in 2003. He chose to attend for the first time in many years in 2015 on the day INEC was to brief the Council on the need to either postpone the election or retain the February 14th date. This told us how selfish our Buhari was. He attended on the day his ambition was at stake.
Dr. Jonathan did not consider all these while making the call. He just felt Nigeria was more important and the country needed to live in peace. That is the difference between light and darkness.
Jonathan is indeed a great man, an icon of democracy and good governance.
The irony of it all is that a President that came to power in the above mentioned extraordinary circumstances has proven to be so undemocratic and intolerant of dissent. Anyway, some of us are not surprised as we knew his antecedents and warned our people not to join the change bandwagon but they wouldn’t listen.
Now, things we used to take for granted under Jonathan have become big issues under Buhari. Under Jonathan, it was not a crime for any of the opposition parties to defeat the ruling party in an election but under Buhari, conducting a violence free poll is becoming a taboo.
We have seen the desperation shown by APC in the recent Rivers and Bayelsa elections and how a President who calls himself a man of integrity has maintained a conspiratorial silence as his lieutenants commit murder in his name.
People are asking if this is the change Nigerians voted for. Its difficult if not impossible to answer the question. The best thing is to accept the fact that a few smart guys have scammed 170 million people. I say this because there was no where any APC chieftain mentioned positive change to us during electioneering. The fact that our people just swallowed the change without asking further questions shows how naive we were. Well, change can also be negative. This one we are having now is a negative one by all standards. This is because there isn’t a day one wakes up from sleep without discovering that the country has moved closer to Somalia than it was the previous day.
Bring Back Our Jonathan.
Timothy Abiodun T writes from Ondo State.
Inspired by Steve Biko’s ‘I Write What I Like‘, OP-UNEDITED is the citizen opinion segment of SIGNAL. All opinions posted on the OP-UNEDITED page are unedited and the raw opinions of the writers.
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