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Goodluck Jonathan; Nigeria’s ‘Worst’ President Turned Best Ex-President By Majeed Dahiru

Goodluck-JonathanFew men in the history of any nation are as privileged and fortunate, as former President Goodluck Jonathan, to have held every important position of authority and power, consecutively for 16 unbroken years. First elected in 1999 as deputy governor, then governor in 2005, later as vice president in 2007 and finally in 2010 as president and commander in chief of the armed forces of the Nigerian federation. Reputed to be amiable, simple and meek; his steady rise to power has been attributed more to divine providence and sheer luck, as his first name implies than any track record of proven competence and capacity at statecraft. Born on 20th Nov, 1957 in the riverine community of Otuoke in Bayelsa State, to Ijaw parents, Goodluck Jonathan is no doubt Nigeria’s greatest personal beneficiary of the 4th republic.

Expectedly, no literature is exhaustive and no consensus of opinion yet about his stewardship as president between may 6th 2010 and may 29th 2015, because it may be too early to fully appraise his tenure barely 14 months after he left office. But one thing is certain; Nigerians rejected him at the 2015 general elections and elected the candidate of the then opposition APC, Muhammadu Buhari as president. The 2015 general election was historic because in a rare precedence in Africa, unheard off in Nigeria, an incumbent president lost an election.

However, Jonathan’s loss of election and PDP’S fall from power after 16 years was a long time coming. The beginning of the end for the PDP started with the predicted and eventual death of former president Umar Musa Yar’adua on May 5th 2010 after a battle for his life with terminal illness. Events emanating from the long medical vacation of Yar’adua and his inability or unwillingness to hand over the mantle of powers to Goodluck, his vice even in acting capacity created a political tension in the country. Members of the Yar’adua administration’s kitchen cabinet, the “cabal” in which Jonathan was an outsider, were running the country by proxy, because Chief Kaase Aondoaka, the attorney general proclaimed that the president could rule from anywhere including his sick bed. But in a rare show of unity, the country rose to the occasion and in one voice urged then President Yar’adua to tow the part of honour {Olusegun Obasanjo} and constitutionality {Muhammadu Buhari}, by handing over to his vice [ Save Nigeria Group] while unable to discharge his functions as president. Through the ingenious “doctrine of necessity”, the National Assembly of the federation mandated Goodluck Jonathan to act as president in the absence of the substantive president and commander in chief. The nation heaved a sigh of relief and normalcy was restored. This event further endeared Goodluck Jonathan to Nigerians, with attendant goodwill because he was perceived to be maligned and marginalised in the scheme of things in the Yar’adua presidency.

Once he assumed full powers as president, it wasn’t long before another Goodluck Jonathan was unveiled. Nigerians mistook his timidity and naiveté for simplicity; for he barely understood Nigeria and Nigerians and remained an outsider in the power equation throughout his tenure. Beneath the calm and innocent look of his was a man driven by high ambitions and quest for power; he moved swiftly to consolidate his hold on power and prepared for his eventual election as president. His gentle manners and politeness effectively concealed a very vindictive fellow who rarely forgives his political adversaries; he quickly moved against all his opponents and stumbling blocks to power, beginning with AGF Aondaoaka, whom he redeployed from justice ministry to special duties and the sacking of the then PDP chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, whose sin was pre-maturely declaring an embargo on southern candidacy for the presidency, because the north had not run its course, without first seeking the opinion of the president, a southerner, who was set to run for the presidency in clear violation of the zoning arrangement.

Once he lost his re-election bid, we again saw a different Jonathan. We saw a man who rose from the ashes of defeat, dusted up himself, accepted his fate by promptly conceding defeat and putting across that historic phone call to his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, congratulating him to the relief of his countrymen and the delight of the international community. With this first step, Jonathan began a giant leap from his perception as Nigeria’s worst president ever to Nigeria’s best ex-president. He quickly followed up this gesture by organising the most comprehensive and seamless transition process ever seen in our country. Jonathan’s greatest achievement was losing in an election which he supervised as an incumbent, because that historic event has certified our democracy as fully grown and mature. A loss for Jonathan that was a massive gain for Nigeria.a

Nigerians are now confident in the electoral system haven been emboldened by their ousting of an incumbent through the ballot. To Jonathan’s credit, he appointed a man of proven integrity and capacity, Attahiru Jega, a scholar of international repute as the chairman of INEC. An appointment that was based on merit and not on sectionalism, Jega’s performance was unparalleled in our electoral history. All the innovations and reforms carried out by Jega were made possible by the financial and moral support of Jonathan, thereby transforming Nigeria’s democratic experiment to a proven theory; a theory that power truly belongs to the people.



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