By BENEDICT IJOMAH
I AM compelled to caution our politicians.
I have been in politics in this country, from my days in the university in 1960. I have participated in the elections during the NCNC/Action Group period. I have followed the politics of Nigeria from the first election before independence. I have witnessed the tragedy of the Western region. I have witnessed the tragedy of the Civil War. I am old enough to know the events that led to the series of massacres of the Igbos and the Yorubas in the Northern region. I have also witnessed the various coups and counter-coups of the Northern military generals who consolidated power in the Northern oligarchy and misruled this nation for years. I am constrained to caution young and inexperienced politicians that are crossing from one party to the other as if good governance depends on only numerical strength in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Let us learn from the lessons of history.
It is clear to me that most of the people that are crossing from PDP and creating a false image for the opposition were very young in the 1960s; they must have been very young to witness the Western Nigeria crisis. They are creating scenarios that are similar to what happened in the Western region. Let me caution Nigerians, including myself, that we must give Jonathan a chance to run this country before we declare him incompetent. Let us not create a situation which is similar to calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. It is clear to us that immediately Buhari lost the election many souls were lost in the crisis that followed the riots in the North. He appeared to be a sacred cow that could not be questioned for the crisis he instigated because he lost a simple election. He has now joined the opposition to make sure that Jonathan is in a difficult time, and if possible, to see that he is impeached.
People who move from one party to another have nothing to offer the country. A good politician is one who has developed his area not a politician that canvasses to overthrow duly elected Governors and Presidents. I am writing this paper at exactly midnight and I am led in spirit to caution Nigeria that the events in the Western region under Akintola and Awolowo that gave rise to unnecessary coalitions of UPGA and NNA could not save this country and will not help us at all. Akintola formed the coalition with the Northern Peoples Congress, Awolowo formed the coalition with the NCNC. We had two mega political parties, the UPGA and NNA.
It was a clear demonstration of the incompetence and ineptitude of the political leaders. It did not save us from gradually moving into a civil war. I want to appeal to all Nigerians that the way things are going, we are gradually moving towards disaster. We will continue opposing Jonathan until Jonathan by default becomes dictatorial in order to save his government. We will blame the opposition for forcing the Federal government to adopt methods that anybody in opposition would not like; they must hold themselves responsible. The President cannot fold his hands and watch the opposition destroy his government in the name of democracy. It is also democratic for an elected president to do everything possible to save the country from being thrown into chaos by the opposition. For every action begets a reaction. Every action by the opposition to destroy the government will stimulate a reaction from the government in order to contain the opposition.
Jonathan has had the greatest opposition from those who failed elections to those who want to stop him from contesting the election that he is entitled to. It is very clear that what is happening in this country is not governance the way it should be. Jonathan is spending a lot of his time trying to contain unnecessary oppositions from people who lost to him. This is not my idea of genuine opposition.
Let us look at the American system or even in the civilised world. When you lose an election you bid your time until an opportunity comes again, if you feel you should rule the country. General Buhari has not hidden his disdain for Jonathan since he lost the election to Jonathan, and the President would become a coward if he allows Buhari to pull him down without showing that he is the President. I appeal to all politicians to realise that when the politicians were fighting in the Western region, and when the UPGA and NNA emerged, we had two major mega parties that could not govern this country. We must not allow history to repeat itself. The various coalition groups whose stock-in-trade is to stop Jonathan create the impression that they have nothing to offer this country.
The President, inspite of the opposition being mounted against him has tried to record major achievements. It is therefore clear to me that if people do not deliberately construct opposition to pull him down, if he has a free hand to run this country, Nigeria would be a much better place. All those who have deliberately gathered themselves into formidable opposition just to stop Jonathan, as if that is the only thing Nigeria needs, send the message to Nigerians that they have nothing new to offer Nigeria except to destroy the result of a democratic election. Therefore all those who are gathering themselves into oppositions to stop Jonathan should ask themselves whether they have any other thing to offer Nigeria except to create opposition. Oppositions that buy members to carpet-cross from one party to the other make democracy unstable. Younger politicians who did not witness the events that led to the crisis in Western region, or the events that led to the Civil War, the events that led to Aburi Conference, should learn that we cannot relive unwholesome situations a second time within this generation.
Is Jonathan qualified to contest election in 2015? The answer is yes, he is qualified to contest. All those who are now moving into different unwholesome alliances just to make sure that Jonathan does not contest election should give us their manifestos, or what they will do for Nigeria if they succeed in removing Jonathan. Nigerians want to know. What will Buhari offer Nigeria other than gathering people together to stop Jonathan? Let me caution that stopping Jonathan from contesting election in 2015 does not make Buhari to win. Nigerians have seen how many people were slaughtered in the election results which Buhari refused to accept, and Nigerians are waiting for him to come out again. Only a fool will look at the destruction that followed his refusal to accept the result of the election and still go back to ask him to rule Nigeria. Let me make it very clear, whether anybody likes it or not, Jonathan is entitled to contest in 2015. Jonathan will contest in 2015.
I also want to warn the PDP to put its house in order. Dumping the PDP and crossing over to an untested political party is not the alternative Nigerians are looking for. It is clear that inspite of the deliberate opposition created for Jonathan, Jonathan has continued to record major achievements. And it is also clear that if Jonathan is given an opportunity to finish his eight years, he will create a great nation out of the crises that are being crafted for him.
Prof. Ijomah, Wrote from the Centre for Policy Studies and Research, Asaba, Delta State.