by Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, before I get into my main gist of today, let me
quickly apologise for my inability to write this column last week. Truth
is I had a mental block, pure and simple. Contrary to speculations that
I couldn’t write because my great heroine, Hillary Clinton, lost her
election, I was just so physically and mentally fatigued because this is
one year that I’ve worked so hard on every project at hand.
no doubt that I was solely disappointed that Donald Trump won the
American presidential election but I was able to adjust quickly. My
darling mum had taught me about the wisdom of the ancient. You can put
your all into any project but the results ultimately remain the
exclusive preserve of God. Only God determines the winner or the
There is so much to learn from the political trajectory of Nigeria.
What happened in America had happened repeatedly in our dear beloved
country. I will explain in a jiffy. Who would have expected Alhaji Shehu
Usman Shagari to defeat a political colossus like Chief Obafemi
Awolowo? Who would have expected a Shagari to beat a political
philosopher like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe so black and blue? Who would have
expected a stupendously wealthy man like Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale
Abiola, without any political experience to take on the likes of Baba
Gana Kingibe and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and come out victorious?
What Abiola did in Jos at the National Convention of the Social
Democratic Party in 1993, when he mesmerised and hypnotised the party
chieftains was what Donald Trump did recently in the United States of
America when he razzle-dazzled the Republicans and virtually hijacked
their party. Trump was lucky that he and Abiola belonged in different
realms and climes. Abiola was not able to realise his dreams of running
government like a business but Trump is set to take power and display
the wizardry he flaunted endlessly before the elections. The world is
waiting to see if Trump would plunge America into the abyss or perform
the miracle of turning water into wine.
The main reason many of us non-Americans opposed Trump so vehemently
was because of his supposed bigotry and divisive rhetoric on all fronts.
But on a personal note, I’m not too bothered. I have learnt my lessons.
Politicians can tell any ignominious lie just to grab power. Voters can
believe obvious scams and vote for artful pretenders out of foolish
emotions and live to regret it. There is nothing we have not seen
before. It is very obvious even this early that the millions of
Americans who voted for Trump may never get a quarter of what he
promised. Every man has the right to change his mind or beliefs and no
one can hang him for it. Trump obviously knew what the Americans wanted
to hear and knew how to sell a dead horse at a premium. That is
politics. His message resonated with his core base no matter how
retrogressive it sounded. As a matter of fact, it became even more
attractive the crazier it sounded. Politics and religion are quite
similar in that they thrive on pure faith.
The same Trump that appeared a rabid hater of President Barack Obama
has since visited his “sworn enemy” in the White House. You would have
expected both former warriors to exchange some terrible blows but far
from it; they came out behaving like two newly joined love birds. Trump
now says Obama is actually a nice guy. Obama also reassures a jittery
nation and a confused global community that Trump would actually behave
decently and that their allies have nothing to fear. The two opponents
must have known that it was all a game all along while their followers
actually believed and embraced the charade. One of the things I love
about America is the ability of its leaders to rise above pettiness.
Every leader comes in after a bitterest electioneering campaign to
embrace the one who lost. I do not hear sing-songs of wasting too much
energy on the past. Who would have thought Obama and Bush would become
as close as they are now? American leaders are wise enough to know that
we are all actors and must quit the stage after playing our assigned
roles. We may have sharp differences but we must be able to calculate
the cost of war-war against the price of jaw-jaw.
When tomorrow comes, I’m sure Donald Trump would have calmed down and
welcome everyone in the true tradition and character of America. No
American leader can ever be allowed to transfigure into an Adolf Hitler
or a Benito Mussolini. Americans collectively are stronger than their
leaders. This is one of the major reasons I’m not worried about Donald
Trump and his tantrums. If he returns to the giddiness of his
pre-election period, Americans across party lines would know what to do.
That is the power of their democracy.
This now brings me back home. I have been reading about the rising
profile of our former President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and wish to
state without equivocation that no one should rule him out of the 2019
presidential race. I first hinted this possibility about two months ago
and wish to reiterate that Nigerians should prepare for the shock that
awaits us. The story of Donald Trump should bring us back to our senses.
Nothing is impossible. The second coming of Goodluck Jonathan may be so
far-fetched or even belong in those categories of impossibilities but I
wish to plead with our government and my fellow citizens not to rule it
out. As one of those who made our modest and humble contributions to
the coming of this Buhari government, I’m pleading with trepidation.
Jonathan’s popularity is rising not because of anything he has done
to atone the sins that must have led to his waterloo but as a result of
what our change government has failed or refused to do. The obsession of
our government with going all out after Jonathan is the main reason the
Otuoke man is beginning to smell like roses after the odoriferous
position he landed himself last week. Only if our government had
succeeded in maintaining the economy it met, Nigerians would have been
ready to enter fire with Buhari. But there are just too many unresolved
problems and challenges. The excuses that Jonathan and company left this
peculiar mess behind has refused to fly. The groans might not be loud
enough to reverberate all the way to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, as
of now, but trust me it may become deafening, sooner than later. I do
not care if men and women of power dismiss my submission with a wave of
the hand but they should mark my word, there is a thickening conspiracy
in the clouds. It would be a shame if we inadvertently play into the
hands of those hovering and ready to pounce on Buhari.
I read about “persecution complex” long ago and I understand how it
works. If you beat your own child so ruthlessly as if you want to kill
him, the tilt of public opinion would always go against you. Many would
wonder why you want to kill your own child. In our anger, let us pick
our fights. There is too much tension in the land. I would be delighted
if anyone could educate and convince me that Nigeria has gained much
more than we’ve lost to this war of attrition. If we haven’t, we may
need to retrace our steps urgently.
The BBC reported on Friday how Jonathan caused a stir in Sokoto State
during his visit to the state to pay his respects to Ibrahim Dasuki,
the late former Sultan of Sokoto. According to the report, Jonathan was
received by a large crowd of admirers, some holding banners bearing the
words “Come Back Baba Jonathan”. The same voices that chanted “Sai Baba”
and “Jonathan Must Go” are now fiddling with the tunes of the
possibility of a Jonathan to stage a comeback. Here lies the irony of
political triumph and the paradox of high expectations.
The euphoria and momentum that saw the exit of Jonathan and the
emergence of the Buhari change administration has since begun to wane
following the inability of the new government to hit the ground running
with the tenacity of a government in a hurry!
There are many who believe that the poor management of the ensuing
economic recession didn’t help matters. Suddenly, Nigerians who had high
hopes and voted massively for change are now caught in a limbo between
confusion and uncertainty. As it stands today, the average Nigerian is
confronted with the reality of an economic recession they never planned
for; a situation they did not experience under the Jonathan
administration and under previous governments.
Many of President Buhari’s supporters are worried that the humongous
goodwill that engineered the Buhari change mantra is now being frittered
away at the speed of light. The unfolding plot has now thrown up former
President Jonathan as a new protagonist in Nigeria’s theatre of the
absurd. For many of us who are ardent students of history, we have since
learnt that nothing is impossible in the game called politics. Will
history repeat itself again? Time is pregnant with answers!