The New Year surprise campaign posters of President Goodluck Jonathan currying electoral support ahead of the 2015 general elections reads: ‘No Vacancy in Aso Rock…One Good Term Deserves Another”. The bills and posters, which have Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo’s portraits, are boldly occupying strategic spots in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Although Jonathan has kept mum on the issue, his aides have tried to come out to deny (not too boldly) that the President had a hand in the posters and bills. But when the newspapers carried pictures of the renovated Jonathan-Sambo Campaign Headquarters in Kaduna, the billboard bore something similar to the “strange” posters in the nation’s capital.
Public opinion is so far divided about three things namely, the legality of such early campaigns for an election in 2015; the morality of Jonathan’s reelection ambition in view of the perceived non-performance; and the sense in putting up what can spur general anger and confusion. Many also wonder how such posters, which were not posted on the eve of the New Year suddenly, appeared on January 1. It means that while millions were preparing for the New Year and keeping vigil at churches, stadiums for carnivals and fun places to usher in the New Year, some persons were busy rather planting the seed of discord for the New Year.
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The Jonathan-Sambo poster saga could have been orchestrated by political friends with the knowledge and blessing of the two protagonists themselves. It could also have come from political enemies. As to the first probability, it is commonplace in Nigeria to have national leaders pulling such political stunts as a political step to either test the “waters” in anticipation of getting an idea of what people’s disposition to their quest may be, or a subtle announcement to the public that they have a target to remain in office. It could also be a way of projecting that they are popular leaders in high demand by the people.
That is an old strategy of Nigerian leaders. We are used to such phony and lousy approach when leaders would put a sort of political campaign in motion and later distance themselves from it or keep quiet and allow rumours and confusion to overwhelm and heat up the polity. The illegal campaign gathers momentum and when the leaders speak, they say they are compelled by the overwhelming demand from the people to go ahead and contest. It is an old hogwash which Babangida used to justify the annulment of the June 12 election. After setting up Arthur Nzeribe and Abimbola Davies with their Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), Babangida steered from a distance, the ship of democracy to wreckage in a bid to remain in power.
Abacha’s episode of “five fingers of a leprous hand” (a la Bola Ige) in which the existing five political parties adopted him as their sole presidential candidate ahead of a sham of an election, cannot be easily forgotten. Abacha was projected as Mr. Hero, Mr. Superman, Mr. Messiah and Mr. All-in-All by the mass of the ‘financially sorted’ political class who sang his praises to hell in a bid to help him realize his transmutation (self-succession) agenda. And what of our dear Obasanjo? To be fair to him, he has repeatedly denied he ever nursed any Third Term ambition, but what transpired at the time had the appearance of the usual self-succession plan. President Jonathan could therefore be towing the footsteps of his predecessors.
But like we said earlier, his enemies could also be the ones setting a trap for him or seeking to heat up the polity by the posters so as to make him unpopular. Smarting from the perceived poor performance, impatience of the people about the slow pace of the actualization of the political promises and transformation agenda, and storm of national insecurity, the masquerades behind the posters may be pushing a point: that “does this Goodluck man deserve another term?” they could be using that to further stir up opposition and wake up the terror groups once again to step up their violence and further make the nation ungovernable. This theory seems to me more like it. Why?
The administration has a slow approach to achieving results and Nigerians at this crucial time does not need that kind of style. Nigerians have suffered, persevered and waited long enough to have a feel of good governance. Democracy got restored in 1999, and 14 years after they still do not have a bite of democracy dividends: no electricity, no roads to pass, no jobs for the youths, no pipe borne water. All they get is exploitation, more corruption and stealing of public fund meant for their upkeep, failed promises and to add salt on the wound, terrorist strikes and growing insecurity. These are enough reasons for a serving President to legitimately resign with a bag of apologies for failing them. But because this is Nigeria where anything goes, posters announcing second term are what the people get.
If President Jonathan and Sambo know about those posters and billboards and are using the old approach of cajoling the people, they better retrace those unpopular steps and apologize to the people. This is not yet time for campaigns. This is the set time for keeping to and fulfilling 2011 campaign promises. As for 2015, they should simply allow the leading of the Lord. They should learn from history that all those who used that approach failed: Babangida, Abacha and (may be, we are not sure) Obasanjo. If President Jonathan fights corruption and insecurity alone and puts them in check, he would not need posters for any announcement or water-testing. The mass of people would naturally throng the streets chanting his name for second term. We will defy the nonsense northern cabal’s opposition and rubbish the grand and age-long (but baseless) agenda to keep power perpetually with the northerners.
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