I need to state how much I hate myself right now for even discussing an election that is 3 full years away. Nothing can be more distracting and in Nigeria, it is something we love to do very well; distract any and everyone distractible.
“I will not contest the 2015 elections… If I’m voted in within the next four years, the issue of power will be a thing of the past. Four years in power is enough time for anyone to make significant improvements and if I can’t improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything even if I am there for another four years… Presently, the law does not allow voting outside Nigeria and so this year, Nigerians in the Diaspora will not vote but I will work towards it by 2015 even though I will not be running for election then.”
That was President Goodluck Jonathan speaking with Nigerians, mainly diplomats working in the UN Economic Commission for Africa as well as the African Union in Addis Ababa on the 31st of January 2011. Before writing this article, I sent the above quote published in the Vanguard on February 1, 2011, to my 11-year-old nephew in JSS 1 who is home for the mid-term break, asking him to tell me what he understood from it. He stated in clear terms that; “Goodluck will not contest for President again.” I needed to do that just to be sure I was seeing clearly how emphatic and categorical my President had been just a year ago about 2015.
Before I go any further, I need to state how much I hate myself right now for even discussing an election that is 3 full years away. Nothing can be more distracting and in Nigeria, it is something we love to do very well; distract any and everyone distractible. But I had to do this mostly because of how deafening the 2015 issue has become regarding the debate as to whether President Jonathan would run or not.
I, like many others, see no reason why President Jonathan should be stopped from running if he wants to, mostly because he has a right to seek a second term in office. Zoning has never been a part of my political dictionary and I do not believe he should get out of the 2015 race because it’s someone else’s turn. But the fact is that, he stated clearly without any form of inducement or duress (to my knowledge at least) that he would not run in 2015.
But Chief Edwin Clarke, elder statesman and the ‘officially recognized unofficial ear and mouth of Mr. President’, is having none of it. He stated just last week that; ”President Jonathan will run in 2015.” When asked if Mr. President’s personal commitment in 2011 not to run doesn’t apply anymore, he said; “I am not aware whether he made any commitment to contest for only one term to Nigerians which is irrelevant at the moment. Personal promises cannot override the Constitution of Nigeria.”
I thought that was really interesting seeing that the constitution did not say all presidents MUST run for two terms. Then again, the statement by Chief Clarke, put a lot of things in context for me about the many promises Mr. President made in the past and how quickly he seems to have forgotten them. At his inauguration on May 29th 2011, he stated; “I shall always place the common good before all else. The bane of corruption shall be met with the overwhelming force of our collective determination to rid our nation of this scourge.” I read that again and wondered if the shocking report by the House of Representatives on the mismanagement of fuel subsidy funds is not disturbing enough to be met with “overwhelming force” by Mr. President. There’s probably a constitutional provision according to Chief Clarke that equally renders that ‘personal promise’ null and void and unenforceable.
I watched Mr. President’s broadcast on the first anniversary of his first official term and it was once again filled with promises of what will be instead of what is. Seeing that those around him have told us to treat his promises as irrelevant, I start to wonder if my President spent an entire hour on the morning of Tuesday May 29th 2012, lying to Nigerians. After all, at his swearing in, he told Nigerians that he would serve “to the best of my ability so help me God.” So who are we to say that he has not worked to the best of his abilities whether or not his target promises are met?
Yet, I refuse to give up hope. I refuse to believe my President speaks before thinking, especially on such sensitive issues. I refuse to be distracted by all this 2015 talk and I believe my President isn’t distracted either. Most importantly, I refuse to believe that Mr. President lied on the 31st of January 2011 and has been lying ever since. The only thing that worries me is that majority of the people who read this article, will call me delusional. That’s how bad the trust issue has become.
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.