Musicians sing it. Newspapers carry it. The radios and televisions carry it too. It is a very powerful but short sentence: Run, Goodluck run! The ordinary meaning of the word â€˜runâ€™ is taking to oneâ€™s heels, probably to avoid danger. So, at the first sight, the sentence may mean imploring Goodluck to run away from some danger. But that is not the sense in which it is applied. It means imploring Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent president of Nigeria to publicly declare and contest the presidency of the country. This is recently popularized by the famous lady of songs, Onyeka Onwenu, when through a campaign jingle, she sang the praises of Jonathan and told him that destiny calls on him to run for the presidency. She also performed it live on the stage in the Eagle Square, Abuja on the day the president later declared. As the countless supporters of the president thronged the venue of the presidentâ€™s declaration and speaker after speaker mounted the podium, one thing struck me for an umpteenth time.
It was President Jonathanâ€™s calmness. It was this peculiar character of the president that attracted my attention during the events that surrounded the former President Umar Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s sickness and death. His death did not surprise me much because obviously, the sickness was more than he could bear. He needed the rest the world cannot give. Dame Patience Jonathanâ€™s award-winning theatrical cry in Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s country home in Katsina did not attract my attention either. What attracted my attention was the man, Goodluckâ€™s calmness in the face of all the travails from the time he was the vice-president, through the time he functioned as the acting president and now he is the president. He kept mum as the cabal tossed him about and waited for the appointed time. It came. When the argument about zoning and the PDP constitution raged, everybody talked except Jonathan. Article 6 (2) (3) of the PDP Constitution was cited as bearing the zoning system and why the presidency should be reserved for the northern part of the country and why Goodluck should not contest. It pitched some section of the north against the south and some section of the south against the north. Yet the president did not talk. Even when he was asked directly whether he would contest, he answered that that would comment at the opportune time. He further said he was more interested in moving the country forward then. The opportune time came on 18th September, 2010 when he declared his intention to run.
I have purposely declined from talking about the PDP and its zoning principle. This is because it is an internal party arrangement and not a national problem and therefore, has to be solved within the party. Making it a national problem means making a mere political party loom higher than the country. Actually, the PDP must have been guided to this because of its maniacal and megalomaniacal posture that it is the biggest party in Africa. This has also led some of its present and past leaders to make some incendiary statements like when the immediate past national chairman of the party, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor said that the PDP will rule Nigeria for the next sixty years. This makes the PDP the political paradigm for the country such that whatever the PDP desires, Nigeria must succumb to it and when it sneezes, Nigeria catches cold. This has kept the country for the past eleven years under visionless administrations under the number one party. Nonsense!
The sense behind the zoning principle, according to the proponents, is to accommodate other zones of the country to test the presidency and other posts in the party. During the Obasanjo regime, it was the southâ€™s turn and Obasanjo ruled for eight years. During the Yarâ€™Adua regime, it was the northâ€™s turn. But Yarâ€™Adua did not serve out his tenure and his vice, Goodluck Jonathan came up. The brouhaha about zoning this time is to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting because he is the likely candidate to win if he contests. Many now see it that the right to contest and become the president of Nigeria resides with a section of the country, precisely the north, who were â€˜born to ruleâ€™. It is this that was fused into the PDP constitution which now runs in contrary to the countryâ€™s constitution which makes the contest for any political post in the country the inalienable right of any citizen that is qualified. That is not in the best interest of the country. However, how many of the things for which the PDP is known are in the best interest of Nigeria?
The former minister of information and a revered Ijaw leader, Mr. Edwin Clark has, in the midst of all this political confusion, remarked that, â€œâ€¦ the North has ruled the country from 1957 or 1958 for 38 years and eight months; both military and civiliansâ€¦. (The News Magazine, Sept., 20, 2010, p.23). How has the zoning arrangement been done all these while? This means that the north has dominated the leadership of the country while the other sections had begged for crumbs. This is nothing short of selfishness that rings from some domineering tendency. One now understands the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kutiâ€™s words in one of his lyrics, â€œHuman right na my property, so therefore, you canâ€™t dash me my propertyâ€¦.â€ My take is that if the members of the biggest party want human rights as a â€˜dashâ€™, who cares? They can go on. But they should not disturb he who does not want their â€˜dashâ€™.
As a part of the efforts to retain the northern hegemony, efforts are being made by the northern politicians that are trooping out to present a consensus candidate. Who will step down for the other? For years, the former military president and the self-acclaimed evil genius has nurtured the intention to return to Aso Rock. For him, this is the opportunity. The former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar sees this as the time to ascend the throne prepared for him but snatched by his former boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari will see this as the opportunity to make up for the number of times he had lost out in the presidential elections and to complete the work which Babangida abruptly stopped when he overthrew him in 1985. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the former EFFC boss and the only genuine anti-corruption czar is just there to dig his political grave. Aliyu Guzau, the immediate past national security adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan just wants to be remembered as a one-time presidential aspirant. Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State who declared recently is seen to be there to convert Nigeria into a personal fiefdom as his father did to Kwara. I feel that coming up with a consensus candidate may not be an easy task for the north. But even if they succeed, their choice may have to say a lot because, of all these people that have presented themselves, none of them except Buhari can effectively contest against Jonathan. Even at that, his chances are very much limited. But he is the most honest of them, at least. I just pity Ribadu because he has failed to learn from the Soludo experience in Anambra State.
I do not want to say that those who want to contest should not. But I want to say that God may have a way of giving a message to his people. In terms of the leadership of the country, the south has been marginalized and the south-south has been utterly marginalized. They remain the cash-cow of the country but they have been voluntarily deprived of everything. God sent Goodluck, a man from the local government where Nigeriaâ€™s was oil was located for the first time to be the president. There is nothing wrong if he is allowed to contest the presidency. If he is not wanted, let the people tell him that by voting him out. We cannot deny some significant changes he brought within two months in office. He addressed the problem of availability of petroleum products and he is the only president that has shown a genuine concern for adequate power supply in the country. He also seems to be internationally accepted. He may be different from the other presidents we have had. My problem is not the area he comes from. His good luck is not my problem too. My problems are his party and the people destroying people. Can they allow President Goodluck remain the same after winning the 2011 election?
*Rev. Fr. Clement Muozoba writes from Awka, Anambra State. firstname.lastname@example.org 07060843010