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OPINION: Jonathan run, escape, escape!



Many years ago, when children still read books and novels, I remember my dad used to buy us the popular Pacesetter novels, a collection of novels written by African authors for an African audience, and published by Macmillan Books. A portion of a particular one titled ‘Rich girl, poor boy’ always drew tears of laughter from my eyes.

The main character in the novel is Lai. But his friends called him ‘Orjanshokoto’, which literally translates from Yoruba to mean ‘the one with the torn shorts’ because of the two holes on the butt of most of his shorts.

Lai is from a poor home. He and his fellow poor friends went one day to the house of a rich man in the neighborhood to steal fruits from a tree within the compound. Lai was the point man who climbed the trees to get the fruits.

Can’t remember the sequence of events, but Lai was somehow apprehended. His friends from outside the gates began to chant his name urging him to escape from his captives. They kept chanting “orjanshoko run, escape, escape’!

It seems pertinent at this point in the history of Nigeria, as the 2023 general elections approach to chant a similar song for a former president, Goodluck Jonathan, who seems to be warming his way quietly into the captivity of sycophants and political actors motivated by selfish wants and pecuniary desires. People who confuse their personal urges for national interest.

Jonathan run from them, escape, escape!

I was never a fan of Jonathan. I remember during the campaigns for the 2011 presidential elections, a number of people asked my opinion given that a fellow Niger Deltan was contesting and had a good chance of running the country’s affairs for another four years, especially at a period militants in the creek were causing all kinds of problems for the country’s economy.

I recall telling anyone who cared to listen then, that it was unfortunate the two major candidates (Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari had nothing good to offer Nigeria and Nigerians) and I wished any of the other candidates from smaller parties had better chances.

Whatever else anyone may say of former President Jonathan, he definitely etched his name in gold in the history books after the 2015 presidential elections when he conceded defeat as an incumbent president because he did not want bloodshed, which would surely have happened had he rejected the election results as some advised him to. That singular act made Jonathan a statesman, an exceptional African leader and good democrat in a dark continent populated by mostly sit-tight-leaders.

However, as the 2023 elections draw close, many political actors who claim to be supporters of the Bayelsa-born leader have stepped up activities to draw him back into active politics, definitely not in the interest of the country, as they claim, but to most probably mess him up for reasons best known to them. There have been calls from many quarters for Jonathan to throw his hat into the ring and contest for the presidential seat in 2023.

What started as a joke has been taken a step further by characters who have mapped out their gains under another Jonathan presidency.

With the economy biting hard under the Buhari administration, many Nigerians started to recall how things were better and cheaper under Jonathan but which was also portrayed as corrupt by the present government. Given the level of economic hardship, some Nigerians jokingly cried “bring back our corruption under Jonathan”, arguing that at least things were easier then, and the national currency was not so bashed as it was under Buhari. Hence some now took up the gauntlet calling on Jonathan to return to Aso Rock.

Unbelievably, Jonathan is seriously considering the calls, as evident recently when a group of supporters stormed his country home in Bayelsa State with cries of how the country needs him to rescue it from the clutches of hardship bedeviling the people. Like Nigerian politicians are wont to say, Jonathan told his visitors that he was consulting, and that they would hear from him soon pertaining their request, giving the impression that he may actually throw his hat in the ring.

There have been rumours that the faithful have been plotting to draft Jonathan into the presidential contest through the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the same party that defeated him in 2015.

Given, Jonathan has the constitutional right to contest for the position of president again. More so, it’s been argued that he did only one term in the first instance (as confirmed by a Supreme Court ruling).

Read also: OPINION: Sorry, I don’t think Jonathan is coming

Wether he has a good chance of winning the contest is debatable as he has a number of advantages and baggage as well. But one thing is for sure; if he wins, he would not offer more than he did when he was president from 2010 to 2015. For one, every politician who wins election in Nigeria for a four-year term always argues that four years is not enough to deliver on promises made.

From a humble beginning like Ojanshokoto, Jonathan who himself told Nigerian he did not have shoes while going to school as a kid rose to become the number one citizen of Nigeria. He braved all odds, and with some luck ascended the seat of power controlling the affairs of the greatest black nation in the world. Now all that may be rubbished!

If Jonathan goes on to heed the call of those urging him on in the bid to be president again, there are two likely scenarios; One, he wins, and gets to be president again. In this case he would be convinced that he gets another chance, four years, to right his wrongs. He adds four years to his tenure in the history books. He makes some more money, and makes others rich in the process too. God forbid, some other sycophants may come up to convince him that he could amend the constitution to give himself more time in Aso Rock, as one occupant once tried to do.

In all of this, except the last part, Jonathan would have added nothing to his already exalted position as a respected African leader. And let’s kid no one, he won’t change the fortunes of Nigeria dramatically. At most, we may make small progress under him.

In the possible second scenario; Jonathan loses in his bid to become president again; he loses whatever respect he once commanded among African statesmen. The history books would be rewritten of a humble individual who rose to become an African inspiration and talking point for scholars worldwide, but let an insatiable thirst for power and ass-kissing, belly-directed people lead him astray.

Jonathan has a good place in the history book, but…all that may change if he even considers calls to contest under whatever party. Hence I say again; Jonathan run, escape, escape!

Run far from these sycophants and praise singers who beat the drum of impending disgrace for you. Escape their sweet tongues which derive from only thoughts of their wellbeing and stomach.

AUTHOR: Etaghene Edirin…

Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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