Yet, it is only expected that, as humans, we are bound to receive the death of the nationâ€™s President with extreme shock and anguish. This is particularly so because all through the late Presidentâ€™s ill-health, irresponsible politicians from both sides of the divide (the so-called pro-Yarâ€™adua and pro-Jonathan camps) were playing dirty politics with his agony. Those of us outside the polished and slippery corridors of power watched with disgust the brazen manner in which both sides struggled for the control of political power, even as he was going through dire pains that needed care and support from all and sundry. Now that he is dead, I hope that both sides will be responsible enough not to play politics with his grave, and allow him to rest in peace with his Lord.
While the late President was recuperating from the ailment that finally led to his death, his so-called supporters were behaving and acting as if all that matters in life was the control of political power and the ephemeral glitter that goes with it. From November 2009 when he was flown to Saudi Arabia for treatment until his death on May 5th 2010, this group was always evasive on the condition of the late President. Every piece of information about his health that could help the nation was either distorted or concealed. The ultimate objective was to keep the balance of political power in its favour as long as possibleâ€¦the group finally lost out when Goodluck Jonatahn was sworn in as the Acting President.
Similarly, the Pro-Jonathan group behaved so recklessly in its quest for power, and acted as if the former Vice-President and now the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was elected on a different ticket with the late President. Indeed, the hurried manner in which the then Acting President dissolved the cabinet suggested as if there was a serious rift between him and the late President; as if all along, the cabinet was deeply divided. Beneath the surface, however, it was not a sign of any rift as such but the manifestation of an unrestrained desperation to take over the mantle of leadership while Yarâ€™adua was still alive. All the while, President Jonathan was going about as if he was loyal and fully in support of Yarâ€™adua but beneath his veneer of loyalty, there were manifest signs of a determined desperation to wrest control.
Now that God has passed his judgement and clearly exposed our human follies, both sides must have realised that all the bitterness and struggles were absolutely unnecessary. Umaru Musa Yarâ€™adua is dead. He has paid the ultimate debt every living being must eventually pay. To be contâ€™d
Goodluck Jonathan is now the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. What was desperately sought after has come to pass through a natural decree. Now the journey has commenced in earnest for the new President. Even as the nation mourns the loss of its humble leader, President Jonathan and his camp must ponder very deeply: now that he is fully in control, what next?
Unfortunately, it is a troubling question, with no ready answer in sight. As soon as he settles down after the seven days of mourning, various groups will inundate him with solidarity and congratulatory calls. Many among the callers will complain of marginalisation and seek for a share of the national cakeâ€”politically and economically.
He might then be prodded to play ethnic, regional and religious cards particularly in key appointments. He might be tempted to sack the service chiefs and replace them with those who are â€˜loyalâ€™ to himâ€”whatever loyalty means in Nigerian politics. He might be enticed to keep hunting and hacking real and imaginary enemies in all sectors, as he did recently in the NNPC. The trouble is vindictive changes in ministries and government departments and agencies have never taken the nation anywhere precisely because many of such changes were often made out of selfish interests rather than a patriotic drive for change.
The powerful corruption mafia in Nigeria, which is akin to the drug mafia in Columbia, might even prod him to reverse key progress made in the area of banking reforms by the incorruptible Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. If he chooses to be guided by the whims and caprices of such groups, he might end of enmeshed in problems far deeper than where he took over from the late President.
Furthermore, addressing the Niger Delta conflict will no doubt prove quite challenging for President Jonathan. Even as son of the soil, I imagine what else President Jonathan can do for the restive youth of the region more than what the late President did, as evident, for example, in the amnesty programme and the establishment of a ministry for the Niger Delta.
Consider, also, the lingering problem in the power sector. With every passing day, the power supply situation in the country seems to be worsening. Right now, as I write this piece on Thursday, May 6th 2010, I havenâ€™t seen a blink of electricity supply from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) for more than 48 hours! President Goodluck Jonathan must ask himself what he can do in the power sector to make a difference.
More than anything else, however, the new President might end up pre-occupied with the struggle for 2011. Rather than use the little time he has to work for the actualisation of even a one-point agenda such as electricity supply, he might be tempted to â€˜consolidateâ€™ his power, dabble with re-structuring the PDP to serve his purpose, to be precise, to ensure that he contests the 2011 elections notwithstanding the internal party arrangements to the contrary. The struggle for President Goodluck Jonathan has just started! Henceforth, things will longer be left for â€˜luckâ€™ to decide. Some political scheming must go with the â€˜luckâ€™.
Otherwise, the lucky road may not go beyond 2011. In the final analysis, what next, what new and noble things can he do other than keep struggling to remain in power?
To the family of the late President and a bereaved nation, I say, in accordance with the tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him): â€œVerily, to Allah belongs what He has taken and to Him belongs what He has given. For everything he has set a term. So be patient and be contentâ€.
May Allah forgive him and reward him with endless bliss; away from the world of sullied politics and its worthless troubles. Ameen.