must confess that I admire Jonathan's style of governance. After the quasi-dictatorship of Obasanjo's regime and the comatose two and half years of Ya'radua's government, I welcomed the freshness and the new thinking associated with Jonathan's way of handling things in Nigeria. Some have argued that Obasanjo's approach was necessary for Nigeria at the time, perhaps there are some elements of truth in such points of view, but given the choice anywhere in the world, people will always prefer a system that allows due process over dictatorship of any kind.
I have watched from afar and observed the nuances of Jonathan's rather smooth ways of operating from the distance without necessarily imposing himself in the process, even when the situation appears to be very personal. A careful analysis of what happened to former governor James Ibori of Delta state and what is currently happening to the former governor of Bayelsa (Sylvia), confirms that President Jonathan is not the sort of a man you can play pranks with. He is not afraid to wield the sledge hammer when necessity occurs.
But recent events have made me to reconsider my opinion of him, especially in his perceived power or ability to step up when the goings get tough. It is one thing to crush a hapless ex-governor; it is quite another altogether to stand up to big men and heavy party wigs who are used to getting their own way most of the time. I am not talking about the ongoing war against Boko Haram, but a bigger and a more personal war currently raging inside Jonathan's own house. The battle for the next chairman of PDP Board of Trustees has now been going on for over three months and by all indications may well go on for much longer.
Even in America, the perceived most democratic of all nations where most things are done transparently. I cannot imagine President Obama indicating his choice of chairman of the Democratic Party or any other post within the party and not getting it. Every single member among the party leaders may not automatically acquiesce to the president's choice but these things are typically worked out within a very short time and the president always gets his choice of candidate except in extra-ordinary circumstances where the candidate was just totally unacceptable to the vast majority of members. Even in such an unlikely circumstance, the president would have known and would quietly withdraw the candidate before things get to a vote.
But here in Nigeria, the ruling party (PDP) has been trying to elect the next chairman of their board of trustees without success. The election itself had been postponed numerous times to allow room for one of the candidates to successfully lobby for a consensus. There are several candidates vying for this position but all indications are that the real battle is between President Jonathan and Ex-President Obasanjo. Apparently the presidency had made public their choice of candidate in the person of Tony Anenih while Obasanjo is pushing Almadu Ali. What really baffles me is how a sitting president cannot successfully marshal his fellow party members within the BOT to vote for his own choice of candidate. If Jonathan can't deliver Anthony Anenih, he might as well forget about delivering himself in 2015. For the record, I really don't care for any of these two characters who are no more than a mere recycling of the usual suspects.
I had always thought that the perceived power often ascribed to Obasanjo was only a figment of people's imagination. In a country like Nigeria, all powers devolve from the top down, from those sworn into office as president or governors down through their lieutenants to the rest of the people. But if Obasanjo, who had been out of office for over five years, can stop Jonathan from getting his wish, then Jonathan is indeed the weakest link in this line of masquerades. Due process and the rule of law are still much preferable to dictatorship any day, and Jonathan's legacy lies in allowing these things to continue to flourish in Nigeria today. And, of course, his willingness to give INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) a free hand in the conduct of all elections in Nigeria should be commended and greatly admired by all democracy lovers. But if he has allowed this openness to be perceived by people around him as weakness, and if those people (Obasanjo in particular) pushes him in key matters such as choosing the chairman of BOT for their party and succeeds, then Jonathan is not only the weakest link but should start packing his bag to return to Yenagoa in 2015.