Editor’s note: Writing from Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Naij.com guest contributor Dr Paul John voices his disagreement with Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmad Coomassie who previously said it was the North who “sent” former President Goodluck Jonathan back home to the Otuoke village in Bayelsa state.
The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Naij.com.
In response to your interview published by Vanguard newspapers on May 31, 2015, I want to categorically state that nobody sent Jonathan “back to Otuoke”; rather, Jonathan voluntarily decided to return.
Though I stand to be corrected, Jonathan is, if not the most, at least one of the most favoured politicians in our era. Within a space of 16 years, he was a deputy governor, governor of a state, vice president, acting president, and, finally, the president of Africa’s largest economy and the most populous black nation in the world. An Hausa adage says: “Bã kõme ba za a iya yi wa wani abu wanda lokacin da ya zo,” meaning nothing can be done to something whose time has come. A time for change came and Nigerians voted for change. At this level of our national development, we should be thinking of how to move the country forward, not making inciting statements that would further polarise the good people of our country along religious and regional lines.
Jonathan, as a man of peace, decided to put the unity of our country first before his political ambition. Hence, he peacefully handed over to the the opposition party. Believe me, there are presidents that would have cancelled the election at the point when accreditation of the president during the presidential election failed several times in his Otuoke polling centre. When the results of the presidential election were being collated at Abuja, some leaders, seing that the results were unfavourable to them, would call for an outright cancellation of the election. They might have used the June 23, 1993 pattern where an injunction from the court was used to stop the declaration of the presidential result.
The man who never used the instruments of power at his disposal to truncate democracy needs to be praised and not to treated with disdain. Were you the person that asked him to fall out with Chief Obasanjo, the man who brought him up to that level he reached in our political system? Were you the one that asked Jonathan not to listen to what Chief Obasanjo told him severally before angrily resigning as the BoT chairman of the then-ruling party and later resigning his membership of the party? If you never directly or indirectly advised Jonathan to fall out with his political godfather, then you are not the one that sent Jonathan back to Otuoke.
The truth is that in any stable democracy, power is always rotated between the major opposition parties in the country. There is no way the PDP will rule forever; regrettably, it was in Jonathan’s term that the 16 years of PDP rein came to an end. I believe you should see Nigerians as Nigerians and not as Northerners/Southerners, or Christians/Muslims. What do Nigerians need from a president if not good governance? At this level of our political development, elderly citizens like you should help to build a nation where Nigerians see themselves as Nigerians, and not as members of the PDP or the APC, or Northerners and Southerners.
Were you the one that made the former president allow his wife to meddle with the party affairs? Were you the one that made national leaders of the party allow injustice to rein supreme in the party which contributed to the exit of five governors and other members of the party? Were you the one that told Jonathan not to take a proactive and immediate action when the Chibok girls were kidnapped? Where you the one that advised Jonathan not to give immediate employment to all those applicants that attended the ill-fated immigration test, or to immediately compensate the bereaved families as Governor Oshiomhole did immediately after his encounter with the widow hawking her items on the road? Were you the one that advised Jonathan to underrate the Boko Haram terrorists at the outset? Where you the one that advised him to start the belated crushing of the terrorists few weeks to the election when had he done that at least a year before, more votes from the North might have been garnered in his favour?
Some youths must have taken you as their role model. You should be seen making contributions that will further unite the country, not divide it. If by following your inciting comments, the Niger Delta youths go back to the creeks, definitely the federal government will fight back. The money that would be spent in providing logistics, buying arms and ammunition to fight these militants, would it not be enough to fix our power sector, renovate a lot of deplorable federal roads, provide jobs to our teeming youths, tackle insurgency in the North and kidnapping in the South, etc? Currently, Nigeria is the largest economy and one of the leading democracies in Africa. You should not be seen making inflammatory statements that may divide the country along religious, ethnic or party lines. We need to build a country that everybody will be proud of.
Yes, Jonathan allowed some of his kinsmen to make inflammatory statements during his regime. At your age, would you like to tow the lines of the fledgling youths? If yes, where lies your maturity acquired from many years of life experience? I am one of those that do not allow the mistakes of the immediate former president to becloud his achievements. I think what we should concentrate on now is how to support the new administration to deliver their campaign promises. Who cares if the president is from the North or South when he can provide security in the country, jobs for our youths, constant electricity, good road networks, zero corruption in all our public organisations, etc? Other developed climes see their citizens first as their citizens, not as different religious, ethnicity or party members. We need a Nigeria where Nigerians see themselves as Nigerians, not as Daura or Otuoke natives.
Just know that in 2015 the presidential election, Nigerians needed change and they voted for change. Some believe that there are many forces, possibly spiritual, that equally contributed to Jonathan’s failure at the presidential polls. Because, having seen that Buhari had more supporters in the North and other states, Jonathan should have secretly sponsored one or more candidates through other political parties whose aim would be to share Buhari’s votes in those states where Buhari had stronghold.
In view of this, it is clear that nothing can be done to something whose time has come. Variety, they say, is the spice of life. At least, having tested the PDP-led federal government for sixteen years, let Nigerians have another opportunity of testing the long-awaited APC federal government so that Nigerians can draw their inferences thereafter.
Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie was the inspector general of police from 1993 to 1999, serving under the military governments of generals Sani Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar. He is also the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum.
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