by Abimbola Adelakun
Those selling the Jonathan-for-second-term project will no doubt promote the viability of their product to the highest possible limit – even if this means stretching the truth beyond its tensile strength. I do not think there is much anyone can do about this considering that political advertisements are not always the best places to look if one is seeking truth and virtue.
But let not those who will tell us why their candidate should be the next president think they can get away with overselling themselves by pushing the claptrap logic in our faces that anyone is afraid of President Goodluck Jonathan’s candidature. It is no sin to overthink your meagre worth to the extent you can even afford the luxury of a persecution complex but when such ideas are recycled to the point they begin to look like the truth, then it is high time such a soft soap be dissolved.
If there is any fear out there – palpable and reasonable – it is that Nigeria will be stuck with the Goodluck Jonathan administration for another four years; that the 2015 general election, with the great expectations people have invested in it since Jonathan’s administration began to fumble, will result in an anti-climax and the existing nightmare will be elongated.
Considering the experience that Nigerians have accumulated over the years, we know why the same political party has been in power for the past 16 years at the centre; and why they may continue even if people are already weary of the odiousness it represents.
Nigeria’s democracy, for now, has fragile institutions; one where power is routinely used and abused by the so-called democrats who wear steel-toed jackboots under their flowing “agbadas”. Politicians have no qualms dipping their hands into public tills – to finance the expenses of their ambition – neither are they restrained by any morals from hounding their opponents until submission. When they win elections, it is not always because of their record of achievements or because the people want them, but because the existing structures mostly favour and accommodate their repressive tendencies. Understandably, they have no motivation to demolish the existing structures and work on rebuilding those that will level the ground for all players.
The fear that Jonathan will continue in office is therefore legitimate not because he embodies a superior ideology but rather, the opposition he confronts has not done enough to engage his sterile campaign with the profundity that is needed to defeat his government.
The presidential election is about two months away and up till now, we still do not know who the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, the only party close to “opposition” Nigeria currently boasts of, will be. The party, we are told, is still screening its aspirants.
The APC’s choices do not give one much cause for excitement. There is the perennially hyped Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and his “talakawa” following which presumes a massive harvest of votes until tested at the polls; Atiku Abubakar who, arguably, appears to be the best prepared candidate of all those who are running. He has at least managed to crunch out programmes and ideas but he has not been able to redeem his image long ago sullied by accusations of corruption. There is Sam Nda-Isaiah who announced his interest in the Presidency long ago but curiously, has not been taken seriously by anyone but himself. Then, there is Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso who does not do more than yell at Jonathan. And yes, there is Governor Rochas Okorocha too.
It gets worse when one considers that the electoral timetable is so stifling that it allows an unimaginative incumbent some leeway. All the incumbent needs do is introduce one distraction after another to the political sphere – from causing ruckus in the legislature that will result in vain threats of impeachment, to empty drum noise about “transformation agenda,” to harassing your opponents with – ironically – the instruments of democracy, manipulation of religious and ethnic sentiments, to other sorts of “abracadabraism” the political sphere can suffer- while you fritter time away.
Since the campaign season began, can one point at meaningful criss-crossing between the aspirants who are running for elections in a mere nine weeks’ time? Which of their wrangling will result in important structural change that will be effected in post-2015 elections? How is such a change being fore-grounded by the way issues are being engaged right now? For the most part, what we see are one bland press release after the other, reprocessing the same critique. This, unfortunately, is not limited to the Presidency; it percolates all levels.
Days ago, I visited the National Assembly website and read the profiles of lawmakers. Aside from the urgent need of a copy editor and a web administrator to fix the site’s broken links, I came away with the impression of lawmakers lacking rigour to envelop their vague ideas and clichéd nostrums with fresh leaves wrappings. Yet, most of them are on the ballot again!
With the limited time available for anyone to sell themselves to the public, it is not surprising Jonathanians are beginning to mistake an unfortunate twist of fate as evidence of the universality of their candidate. True, the lack of viable options enhances the electoral chances of Jonathan but this is a fact that should be divorced from whether he deserves to retain his seat or not. This is one government that lacks morals; they have seared their conscience to peddle their waterlogged lies.
One day, the President announces his Nobel Prize-deserving achievement: that he has been able to reduce poverty by 50 per cent; the next day, his finance minister claims that the economy has improved because 40 million Nigerians could afford to purchase cars under their administration and the country will soon join the league of 20 biggest economies. The third day, before you recover from the audacity of their claims, they announce austerity measures! You do not need a “Nwa dibia” (an oracle) to know this somersault will continue after February. The amusing thing is they are not even struck by the irony of their own position.
One of the painful things about the 2015 elections is that Nigerians seem to be stuck between two jaundiced options –the APC or the PDP. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the chances of a third option whittled away. The realist in me says that between now and February, those two options are all we have. That is not a pleasant place to be and those who are favoured by the odds will do well to remind themselves that things are this way because our options are weak rather than promote what is not.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.