Azubuike Ishiekwene: Pres. Jonathan should let his party mourn

by Azubuike Ishiekwene

Jonathan4In the last 16 years, we never voted once for PDP expecting to have a government of angels. But even if we had voted for Alibaba and the 40 thieves, they would have shown some compassion in the way we were robbed.

The concession speech by President Goodluck Jonathan must be one of the toughest acts of his five-year presidency. Only three days before the March 28 election, he told The Cable in his last interview that Nigerians would soon find that the All Progressives Congress was overestimated.

On Saturday, voters responded, making it clear that it was really the Peoples Democratic Party, the president’s party, which has been trading far above its fair value. It was time to end the party.

I can only imagine what must have been on Jonathan’s mind when it became clear the bacon had left the table. The footprints were all over his Monday concession speech – the last bitter struggle between him on the one hand, and party stalwarts and top military staff who wanted to bring down the roof on the other.

His lonely struggle to tear himself away from them and save a place for himself in history was embedded in the nuances of the speech: how to balance a million and one contending interests without sacrificing his desire for a legacy; how to concede defeat without conceding honour; how to congratulate General Muhammadu Buhari without shutting the door to litigation by his party.

There was no precedent, not in Nigeria. This was the first concession speech by a sitting president and Jonathan had to go deep, not only to find the words, but also to find the courage to deliver them, facing the world and ignoring the mockers in his own camp who were ready to strangle him, if they could.

He has done his part and secured his place in history. But why did he tell his party not to mourn? It may be the politically correct thing to say, but PDP dug its own grave many years ago and then invited its own death. The party must observe its own rite of passage, if for nothing else, for the therapeutic value.

The party promised Nigeria a slow death of 60 years and did all within its power to bring it about. It murdered its own members, like Aminasoari Dikibo, and didn’t spare non-members like Bola Ige, Harry Marshal, Barnabas and Blessing Igwe, whose only crime was holding a different view about service. The PDP moved from an attempt at self-cleansing under former President Olusegun Obasanjo to a romance with self-immolation in the last five years.

In the last 16 years, we never voted once for PDP expecting to have a government of angels. But even if we had voted for Alibaba and the 40 thieves, they would have shown some compassion in the way we were robbed.

It simply got worse with every new PDP federal government until we reached the point in 2012 when the Financial Times reported that Nigeria was losing $1billion every month to crude oil theft, while miscreants were awarded contracts running into millions of dollars to look after our pipelines. Talk of giving a cat fish to keep.

There was no sacred area. Pension funds, premium communications spectrum, power generation assets, road contracts – you name it. Even $458million looted by General Sani Abacha and repatriated from Switzerland to wipe away our tears was re-looted.

And Jonathan says that PDP should not mourn – the party that brought us misery and grief for so long? Boko Haram did not start under Jonathan’s PDP era, but it started under PDP and deteriorated to the point where over 10,000 lives, including those of scores of children, have been lost, and 279 girls kidnapped from their dormitories. It was under PDP that Nigeria lost landmass nearly the size of Northern Ireland and turned to mercenaries and our little neighbours for help.

Let PDP mourn. And Jonathan need not lose sleep. Why should he? He is the divine instrument of Nigeria’s deliverance from PDP, and we can’t thank him enough. PDP would never have unravelled under Obasanjo. It’s also unlikely that Umaru Yar’Adua would have upheld that ‘Jona-math’ principle, the final straw at the Governors’ Forum under which 16 was deemed greater than 19. In-your-face impunity came full circle.

What has been levelled against Jonathan as incompetence may actually be a blessing in disguise without which Nigeria would have endured another 44 years of rotten governance. The PDP needs to mourn with the hope that the healing power of its tears can cleanse it of its hubris and create from the ashes a robust opposition. If promises or bribes or blackmail or lying could win the vote, PDP would not only rule for 60 years – which they had threatened, they would rule forever.

Jonathan should let his party mourn. He should neither beat himself over the head nor harbour any renegade thought that he acted improperly by allowing clean elections in the first place, and conceding after he lost. His act of statesmanship not only helped to save the country needless bloodshed, it will help his party save what is left of its haunted soul.

But there’s also a lesson for the opposition, both in Jonathan’s speech and in the March 28 vote. Eight years is no longer guaranteed. Politicians have to earn their place by performance. In the same way voters rose above the general lowness of the campaign to nail the PDP on its record, they will hold the governing party to a new set of standards from May 29.

The PDP was not rejected for failing to perform; it was rejected for failing to make any honest effort to perform; it was rejected for hoping that paying bribes and hiring bullies to campaign will renew its contract at the end of four years. Thanks to the vigilance of voters, the incredible courage and calmness of INEC chairman Professor Attahiru Jega and the attentiveness of the world, voter power is back and can only get stronger.

The APC must immediately roll up its sleeves, shun the Nigerian hubris of spending the first six months in a new office to receive “goodwill visitors” from the 774 local governments and 36 states, and get down to work.

Jonathan has done his best and should feel proud in the manner of his going. As Buhari steps in, he must never forget for a moment that the mourning eyes in the PDP will be looking to see if change has truly come.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of  Y!/YNaija

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