by Olalekan Adetayo
March 28, 2015 and March 30, 2015 were not like any other day for President Goodluck Jonathan. March 28 was the day he contested the nation’s presidential election for the second time. Although he had 13 candidates to contend with in order to retain his seat for the next four years, nobody was in doubt that the election was a straight fight between him and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Jonathan; his wife Patience (popularly called Mama Peace); his mother, Mama Eunice; and other members of his household and presidential aides had relocated to his hometown, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, on the eve of the election.
Two major incidents occurred miles apart that some people thought were early signs of bad omen for the President who flew the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party in the keenly contested election. Card readers that were deployed in his polling unit were said to have failed to authenticate his Permanent Voter’s Card and that of his wife.
After several failed attempts, Jonathan was left with no other option than to call the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, on the matter. At last, the President and his wife were allowed to fill the incident form and were accredited.
Trust Nigerians, while that was going on, they took to the social media. One of the messages I received through BlackBerry Messenger was, “Nigerians reject Jonathan; card readers reject Jonathan.” That was how the news of the President’s rejection started very early. While that event was playing out in the riverine Bayelsa State, some prospective voters were converging on the Villa to cast their votes.
The prospective voters that were mainly occupants of the residential section of the Villa as well as the seat of power’s workers arrived the two polling units within the premises armed with mats, chairs, food and drinks. They had resolved from the beginning that they would not only vote, they would protect their votes up until the final result was announced.
By the time counting started, it was already dark. Voters illuminated the venue with their cars’ headlamps. They watched religiously as the already tired corps members counted the votes. They started with the results of the senatorial election after which they counted the ballot papers of the House of Representatives election and capped it with those of the presidential elections. The intermittent applause from the voters as the results were being released showed clearly which side majority of them belonged to.
As it later turned out, Jonathan won in one of the two units located inside the Villa and lost the other one. By the time the results of the two units were added, it became clear that Buhari carried the day inside the Villa from where he will be calling the shots from May 29.
While counting was still going on at the venue, Jonathan returned to his official residence from Bayelsa State. He must have left his hometown shortly after voting.
I had strong reasons to believe that Jonathan had seen the handwriting of his imminent defeat on the wall as early as Sunday. On Monday, March 30, he remained inside his residence until a delegation of foreign election observers that included a former Ghanaian President, Mr. John Kuffour; former Liberian President, Amos Sawyer; former Malawian President and Head of Commonwealth Election Observer Mission, Bakili Muluzi; and the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Ambassador Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, visited him. He came to the office for that purpose and returned to his residence immediately after the meeting.
He was also indoor for the better part of Monday. When it became clear to even the poorest mathematics student that the election had been won and lost, Jonathan picked his telephone and called Buhari to congratulate him.
A convoy of vehicles drove into the forecourt of the President’s office through the Service Chiefs’ Gate. The visitors were members of the National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (retd.).
The delegation included a Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh; Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan; a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mrs. Priscilla Kuye; a former Chief of General Staff, Ebitu Ukiwe; and a business mogul, Aliko Dangote among others. They wore sorrowful looks as if they were in the Villa to break a sad news. But Jonathan who had already accepted his fate decided to brighten up the room with his laughter and the jokes he cracked with Abubakar.
That visit was later followed by other solidarity visits by PDP chiefs, state governors, some lawmakers, members of the Federal Executive Council and other government officials. A former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, was also one of the early callers. Some of them accompanied the President back to his residence and used the opportunity to also console his wife, Patience. Those solidarity visits continued throughout the week.
I saw it coming
In SATURDAY PUNCH’s January 24 edition under the headline “Mr. President and his too many cooks,” I listed some of the President’s campaigners who I said were doing more harm than good to his re-election bid in the way they were going about it.
A week after, on January 31 under the headline “Feuds that may make or mar Mr. President’s ambition,” I listed some rifts such as Yuguda Vs. Bala Mohammed, Mrs. Jonathan Vs. Dickson and Mimiko Vs. Others as some of the things that may thwart Jonathan’s re-election bid if not quickly and properly addressed.
I do not need to reproduce all that I wrote in the two editions but they were not resolved and my fear has finally come to pass.
What becomes of Villa Chapel?
Jonathan’s defeat will definitely affect the fortune of the Aso Villa Chapel where he and members of his family always worship. The chapel is located close to the President’s residence. I had reported here how people who want favour from the President struggle to worship in the chapel in order to get his attention.
I have also reported how the place of worship had been grossly partisan with the kinds of prayers and sermons offered in the sacred place. Leadership and the congregation had never hidden the fact that their loyalty is to the President and to God, in that order.
It is not in doubt that with Jonathan’s exit from the villa, many of those who had abandoned their churches for the chapel would also take their leave, leading to an exodus.
To further compound the chapel’s situation, the President-elect is a Muslim. Since he will not be worshipping inside the building built by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, the faith of a few members that will remain may wax cold. Although the Vice President-elect is a Christian, his Aguda House official residence is a bit far from the chapel. It is not clear if he would be driving into the premises of the President’s residence for the purpose of attending services inside the chapel. Brethren, let us pray for the church in the villa (not in Corinth) like pastors will say. Enjoy your weekend.
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