It is an open secret that President Goodluck Jonathan will seek re-election as we approach the 2015 General Election. That the machinery of the Peoples Democratic Party on whose platform the president is seeking a renewal of his mandate has also set to ensure a smooth ride to party’s ticket for the president is also glaringly obvious. Then, there is another open secret that the President’s seat of power in Aso Rock Villa is been highly- and rightly too- coveted by elements within the ruling PDP and the Northern divide of the country.
And there is a historical dimension to all these agitations. Once upon a time, not too long ago, a wave of pro democracy activism swept across Nigeria. This movement, heralded by the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election believed to be won by Bashorun MKO Abiola by then military President Ibrahim Babangida, was largely led by compatriots from Southern Nigeria who felt that felt the entire process of the annulment was an affront to their continual claim to Nigeria. General Sani Abacha, the immediate beneficiary of the political crisis became an object of national and global focus during the ensuing period. There was a calculated barrage of criticisms against anything the General Abacha junta represented by NADECO, PRONACO, Ohaneze, Afenifere and several other platforms whose main aim was to return civil democracy and common sense to Nigeria and to ensure that justice was done to the people of southern Nigeria who were feeling greatly alienated from the political scheme of things. As all these continued amidst a national atmosphere of apprehension, General Abacha thought it wiser to perpetuate himself in office against the consensus of the people of Nigeria to return our beloved country to the path of national reconciliation.
Just as we are witnessing today with emergence of all manner of groups purportedly canvassing for President Jonathan to remain in office beyond 2015 “and set the record of the longest serving president in Nigeria’s history by 2019,” as one of such groups recently affirmed, there were series of sinister moves by many prevailing on General Abacha to go unchallenged from military to civilian presidency. As a matter of fact, all existing five political parties then adopted the dark-goggled despot as their “consensus candidate in an event of any presidential election”! Though Abacha was later to pass away in controversial circumstance thus paving way for a transition to democracy midwife by the amiable General Abdulsalami Abubakar who took over as Head of State, history had passed its verdict that when a particular divide of the country begins to express frustration in an unfair political arrangement, there must be a resort to reason.
Northern Nigeria has contributed immensely to national consolidation in terms of human and material resources. The North, through her influential leaders like the venerable Sir Ahmadu Bello, Mallam Aminu Kano, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Senator JS Tarka, et al collaborated with their counterparts from southern Nigeria to bequeath a nation filled with hopes for the future. That handshake across the Niger River, though with all the peculiarities and limitations, was what brought out the Giant of Africa status that we today parade. The ravages of the Civil War notwithstanding, we have continued to relish on the glory of those days gone yonder.
Jonathan’s presidency which came to be from the demise of President Umaru Yar’adua shares a lot of peculiarities with the Abacha junta. As people of the south felt shortchanged, that General Abacha wouldn’t have popped up if Chief Abiola was inaugurated as President, so also is the feeling across the North today that President Jonathan has served his best in these last six years and should extend another handshake across the Niger to further consolidate on our national unity. History has it that Chief Olusegun Obansanjo was widely supported from the North as a form of solidarity to Southern Nigeria to pacify their aggrieved interests. The Obasanjo years were a reprieve from the debauchery that ensued during the intervening period.
The cacophony of ‘endorsements’ of President Jonathan for another term in office by people who range from serious minded individuals to charlatans and militants are reminiscent of the experience of Nigerians during the Abacha years. Like Daniel Kalu and his “Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha” who set to pull a one million match to register their endorsement of General Abacha for self-perpetuation, the strides by groups like the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) who are collecting obviously fictitious signatures to pave way for President Jonathan’s declaration of intentions for reelections does not bring good tidings to our President. These groups could make President Jonathan further lose public goodwill.
The people of Northern Nigeria today greatly feel alienated from the ‘Transformation Agenda’ of President Jonathan. Like Jigawa Governor Sule Lamido rightly reminded Nigerians, the president has not effectively carried the people of Northern Nigeria along in terms of development projects in line with his transformation agenda to deserve a worthy endorsement. Governor Lamido has set an example on how to truly transform a state with his numerous people-oriented projects across Jigawa and thus posses the wherewithal to challenge the shortcomings of the Transformation Agenda and salvage our national heritage.
The Peoples Democratic Party under the considerably effective Adamu Mu’azu could do better by providing a level-playing ground for all those aspiring to halt Nigeria’s macabre dance to the brink. The PDP’s chances in next year’s election is further enhanced when the people of Northern Nigeria are given a fair sense of belonging.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
This opinion written by Adams Abonu was culled from YNAIJA
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