By Adagbo Onoja
It is all so fresh. I am referring to the memories of the 2011 electioneering campaign as we did it in Jigawa State where I was the Special Adviser on Media Affairs to the governor. The campaign was heavily involving. Daily, take-off from Dutse was between 9 and 10 O’clock and we came back around 3/4 a.m the following morning, including weekends.
But it was the tension that characterised the entire campaign that was most worrisome. Sule Lamido was a crowd puller, but the idea that something belonging to the North was being taken away from them by force of state power was popular with the masses even as they managed to echoe “Nigeria, sai Goodluck”.
The tension between the two poles could be cut with a knife each day. I used to wonder what I would tell God as I approached Heaven should violence break out at any point and I was one of those something fatal happened to. Nobody back home in Benue would understand what I was killed for.
Some would even go ahead and say that the Muslims had killed a Christian although my problems in Jigawa were never about cultural or religious discriminations as I was accepted at all levels, to the point of an emir graciously inviting me to join him in his Golf game. So, my problems were never in the realm of discrimination but that of a power owner’s calculus.
But who would have been there to explain the death of a Christian political appointee in a predominantly Muslim Jigawa outside of conspiracy theorizing? Thank God, nobody was ever injured throughout.
The question, however, is, why did the 2011 elections become that complicated in Jigawa and across the North except in the Middle Belt areas where identity idealism favoured Jonathan? Answer: the endorsement by the 22 or so governors of the PDP, particularly by those of them from the North, that Goodluck Jonathan was the candidate of the PDP.
It will remain a big debate as to whether the governors took the best interest of the nation into consideration in their decision but, by that decision, the governors firmly put Nigeria on notice that they had arrived as the most decisive power syndicate in the country.
It didn’t take long before voices could be heard from other stakeholders in Nigerian power politics that the governors have constituted themselves into a college of bad boys. A discerning actor like T. Y Danjuma said so. And Professor Jubril Aminu too, describing the Nigerian Governors’ Forum as a strange instrument oppressing the Federal Government, something he said could put the country in serious trouble if it was not checked.
These were very shocking interventions. I thought that it was smart for a complex country like Nigeria to invest in formal and informal safeguards such as the governors’ forum given the twists and turns of Nigerian politics.
From protest voices, it has now come to where we are breaking up the forum. It’s like Nigeria must break everything for Jonathan’s sake, from rotation of power principle to the governors’ forum, without a thought for the fact that Nigeria is a nation of compromisers.
Of course we are, that being why rotation of power was not defended even though, after the June 12 crisis, it was clear Nigeria badly needed a formula to remove quadrennial threat to stability arising from succession unpredictability in a deeply divided society where it is very difficult for individuals to break cultural and tendency barriers and be easily electable nationwide.
But instead of defending a principle, we had all manner of dangerous equivocations and opportunistic argumentation posed by even senior citizens on the issue between June and December of 2010 when the debate raged.
Only Adamu Ciroma, Olu Falae, Atiku Abubakar, Iyorchia Ayu and Shehu Sani are the exceptions to this in the newspapers that I spent time reading so far on the debate. This, I believe, created a vacuum which the governors moved up to fill.
But that’s by the way. More interesting is this anti-climax in which governors who took great risks like the Jigawa case mentioned above are now at war with the PDP, with potentials for the common ruin of both protagonists and antagonists. That war raises the all important question: Hasn’t a nation of compromisers met its match in a Goodluck Jonathan?
On a sadistic note, I wish GEJ can overwhelm the country in 2015 as an unforgettable penalty for the culture of compromising to survive. But can he?
Adagbo Onoja can be reached at email@example.com
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