Jonathan’s transition pains
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, one of the meekest men out of Africa, has kept his promise. He delivered to the world a 194-page compendium on the 2015 election that shooed him out of office, out of power. He thus became the first civilian president to lose election to the opposition. A piece of history. But where one chapter of history ends, another chapter begins.
The book – MY TRANSITION HOURS – must have cost him so much emotional pain and exertion to put together. In Nigeria, where politics is brutal and banal, to lose election is to die a political death. It is worse if you organized the election and lost. That’s akin to organizing your own funeral. Jonathan organized his own political funeral. And he died, yet he lives.
Out of his political grave, Jonathan has emerged a champion. Only few men do this. Only few men survive political hara-kiri. Jonathan is one of them. And it is so because he’s a good man. Humble, meek, without airs. He carries grace. He is God’s favourite in a sense. In life, there are God’s favourites. Like King David in the Bible. He was both king and prophet. He was nowhere near perfection. No man is perfect anyway. But God called him ‘a man after my heart’. In the eyes of mortal man, David was guilty of adultery and murder. He deserves a place in the hall of shame. But God is not man. He reasons not like wicked man. Loves not like mortal man. In spite of his shortcomings, David was God’s delight, the apple of His eyes. Shut up mortal man, you cannot question sovereign God.
Jonathan was clearly a man of uncommon grace. He never fought a political war. The only time he fought he lost. From being deputy governor in Bayelsa to becoming vice president, acting president and president, he rode on the back of providence. His meekness and genteel disposition, according to the narrative of his late boss, DSP Alamieyeseigha, earned him the deputy governor position. The same meekness, the disposition of a man who can’t hurt a fly, earned him Olusegun Obasanjo’s approval to be vice president to Umaru Yar’Adua. And when there was uncertainty about Yar’Adua’s health resulting in his ultimate demise, Providence popped up, held Jonathan’s hand and ushered him to the most powerful political office in Africa: President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In 2011 when he ran for office as a man who had no shoes, he won by a clear margin. Public good will and God’s grace collided to give him victory. He never stirred. People campaigned for him. Public emotion ran high just for his sake. A man beloved and treasured. Jonathan was loved by a majority of Nigerians. He’s still the beloved lamb of democracy. He took the shame just so Nigeria’s democracy would find its footing. Excerpts from his book exposed the deeper pangs of the pains he had to endure to let go of the cassock of power. He lost power to win peace.
The only moment he expended his energy to campaign was in 2015. And he lost. He did not lose because grace abandoned him. He lost because, in my evaluation, it was his time to quit the stage. When it’s a man’s time, grace looks the other way. Providence is the master of mysteries. When it’s a man’s time to get off the stage, Providence weaves its own web using any and every material available. Muhammadu Buhari with his bovine and very brutish mannerism and campaign strategy was one of the materials available to Providence. The conspiracy among northern members of his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party; the fact that Jonathan reneged on his promise to do just one term and his weakness to take certain actions that made him suddenly ineffective a few months to the election among other factors were the other materials. There were a few more as he listed in his book.
But no matter, grace sleeps not. Jonathan left Aso Rock with his family intact, his health unjaded, and his democratic worth undiminished. Many entered Aso Rock as a whole and left in bits and tatters. Some lost their lives, others lost members of their families. Some even conjectured that there is a demon inside Aso Rock that makes normal men abnormal; that makes people depart in tears, in bits, and not as a whole. But Goodluck Jonathan has a better testimony. He lost his office as Nigeria’s president but gained global acceptance as a worthy democrat out of Africa; as a respecter of the rule of law and an epitome of the finest democratic ideals. Only very few African leaders share this honour with him.
His book is worth reading. His observations worth noting. One of his observations was the duplicity of INEC in the use of card reader. Whereas INEC insisted on card reader for voters in the south, it gave a waiver for voters in the north. Dubious! This book gravely indicted Professor Attahiru Jega’s INEC. 2015 election was far from free, fair and credible. The indices were manifest and profound. Jonathan said he could have contested the election outcome; he could have gone to court to challenge the eligibility of Buhari on the grounds of his ghostly certificate based on the intelligence available to him; he could even have sacked Jega the day the card reader failed to capture him and his wife; there were many options open to Jonathan to sway the flawed polls to his advantage. But he was restrained by an inner wrench.
The democrat in him took the better of a good man. Any of the afore-listed actions may have resulted in blood-letting. For a man whose mantra was ‘my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian’, he yielded to the dictates of the moment. He gave in to the conspiracy and devious plot to unseat him. He accepted defeat for the peace and unity of the nation and for the sustainability of Nigeria’s democracy.
By this singular act, Jonathan accepting defeat even with all the notorious flaws in the election, has triumphed over political death. He has etched his name in the hearts of all democrats and he has raised the bar of democratic virtues and ideal in a country in dire need of democratic heroes. The testimonies that trail his book presentation, the crowd of men and women of renown at the ceremony and his now obvious global democratic appeal are enough appeasements for a man who suffered shame for national peace.
I love Jonathan. He is a good man, a great soul. His equity has just notched up with this book. Nigerians will value him in the course of time. Time is a teacher; so is circumstance. The circumstance of the moment has thrust Jonathan as a better leader, much more than he was ever valued. In more years to come, his democratic equity will continue to increase. At 61, it’s still morning in his political life. May he live to teach tyrants the ways of democracy. May he live to speak peace to our political storms. Jonathan is Nigeria’s sacrificial lamb of democracy and history will judge him fairly as the man who took the fall just so our democracy will live.