Demola Olarewaju: Why I Voted For GEJ Against #Change on March 28 Last Year


I not only voted against #Change, I campaigned against it all over Lagos with my principal Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and on one of those campaigns, I was seated beside him as gunshots in Isale-Eko not far from Iga Idunganran rained directly on our vehicle. Thank God it was a bullet-proof car. Thank God Koro asked his mobile police security not to return fire for fire. If I had lost my life that day.

Of course not all who campaigned against #Change believed in former President Goodluck Jonathan – many switched camps as they underestimated either the determination of Nigerians to vote out that Government or underestimated the effect of the bitter propaganda wars waged by the All Progressives Congress.

Perhaps they also assumed that Goodluck Jonathan was desperate enough to upturn the results, no matter what, rather than concede. Largely though, I, like many others saw through the fraudulent promise of #Change – both APC and then candidate Buhari had failed to show any evidence to back up their lofty promises. In a debate I participated in on Channels Television, my opponent Ikem Isiekwena whom I doubt has ever visited my state of origin insisted that Osun was the APC model of governance. Ikem Isiekwena has not tweeted for several months now. Apart from having no clear template of governance, the APC manifesto was essentially a document that read like an advert for the Elysian Fields or Utopia, without any workable plan.

In his much talked about missive which seemed against Goodluck Jonathan, Prof. Charles Soludo pointed this out but former Ekiti Governor Kayode Fayemi fired back a response that sounded plausible to those already anticipating #Change. The #Change was scantily defined: let’s not kid ourselves – for many, #Change was merely a shift from an ‘Ijaw Christian President’ to a ‘Fulani Muslim President’. This essentially was my problem with #Change – it was reduced to a northern vs southern matter by many in the political elite who then generated intellectual arguments to justify their aim.

This argument was advanced by many on social media including influencers who now seek to distance themselves from this #Change, one step at a time. In any election until another national party emerges, my vote will always be for the PDP of which I am a member. I’m all too aware of the ills and dangers of that have held Nigeria back as every issue is reduced to ethnicity and religion. I am however not blind to the PDP’s period of extreme madness which ironically did not include GEJ’s tenure. That the first chance we got to get things right was to be rejected by Nigerians was not one I was going to accept casually so I voted, and I campaigned.

The dividends of Democracy will never come except the stakeholders put in their best to make this system of governance work. Democracy rests on a tripod: Rule of Law, Free and Fair Election and Freedom of Rights. These three work together to ensure that Democracy provides the much needed development – free and fair elections when guaranteed will ensure that elected officers are beholden only to the voters and will do all they can to satisfy them. With time, Development would have come at a fast pace as a proper electoral culture permeates society down to the Local Government level where it is most needed. One of Nigeria’s biggest challenges has always been how to live together or, whether we even wanted to be together. To answer this question, Goodluck Jonathan convened a National Conference.

If the APC leadership had any iota of ideological credibility in them, they would have supported it wholeheartedly but they could not stand seeing Goodluck Jonathan get the credit for this noble move and they decided to oppose him. That conference produced the best document in two decades that enunciates how Nigeria show be governed and pays attention to issues like True Federalism. In finding a solution to the issues surrounding Resource Control, that document first makes a case for Agriculture as the major vehicle of the development of northern Nigeria, only after which all other states could be allowed to control their resources, including oil.

Never in recent history had statesmen from all across Nigeria come to such a roundtable to discuss Nigeria seriously. They fought, they quarrelled, they threatened to walk out but they eventually produced a document for history. That document was lost on March 28 last year when we #Changed. I initially did not think Goodluck Jonathan could manage the Conference and so I opposed it. As it succeeded, I knew there would be no better person to implement it than he and so I voted for him. In 1966, a group of armed officers with good and noble intentions slaughtered many of those whom they assumed were the problems of Nigeria.

Many of those who were behind them are still the bulk of the ruling elite today and they have over the years installed Heads of the Nigerian State including General Muhammadu Buhari. When the ruling elite and that class of ’66 banded together again against the ‘son of the fisherman’, it was to redress what they considered an affront to their historical bloodline. When the Obasanjos, Atikus, Tinubus, Sarakis, Buharis of the ruling elite banded together to oppose Goodluck Jonathan, it could not in any way have been #Change – at least not a positive #Change.

One year after I voted for something that I understood and believed in, as well as against something that I saw as empty rhetoric, I am proud of how I voted. I can only hope that those who campaigned and voted for #Change really understood what they wanted beyond merely proving to themselves that a Government could be voted out. I can only hope that they understood the man Buhari as they voted for him. I can only hope that all they took for granted under Goodluck Jonathan is not taken away from them. For all our sakes: we can only continue to hope.


Olarewaju, is a Lagos based Political Analyst and Strategist.


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