Patrick OdionikhereSaturday, July 24, 2010



here did President Jonathan go wrong that northern Moslems have gone on rampage after a free election that we all ought to rejoice together; whether or not northern candidates lost? Some of us may find it hard to bear because of the misperception of power and electoral fraud in Nigeria that has a long history. Apart from the annulled election of Abiola in 1993, which was adjudged free and credible and yet aborted by those who wanted the wrong path for Nigeria and its people. Our nation and its people have been going through a taunting path that has put our democracy on the edge. Office holders are never trusted and President Jonathan is not immune. That Jonathan inherited the negative burden meant that every of his action had to be scrutinised and with reservation. Jonathan rose to power was not trouble free after the death of Yar'Adua despite the clear constitutional provisions on succession. However, even when Nigeria was on the brink of political turmoil instigated by those now called cabals - in correctness as political elites of northwest (Adamu Ciroma and his group), who used every mischievous and scornful manner to letdown Nigeria in attempting to stop Jonathan being President. Until Save Nigeria Group came out to speak against the oddity and the parliamentarians listened to the wisdom of reasoning in promulgating the doctrine of necessity to accede presidential power to Jonathan.


If President Jonathan's had been a vengeful person, seeing what he suffered and the humiliation, nobody had thought he would maintain calm and humility in doing his constitutional duties. Yet, the cabals who did all within their powers for selfish reasons to stop him, have not come to term that Nigeria is in a new dawn. Adjusting to new ways can be difficult and painful hence the urge to resist change. It is why Nigeria is on collusion course due to corrupt use of political powers. No wonder, the fight for PDP's presidential primary was messy and fierce. As such, President Jonathan was battled on all fronts to no avail and the sudden prominence of PDP's zoning arrangement to stop him following Yar'Adua's death. Although, the natural sequence of things also worked in Jonathan's favour. Natural in the sense that, at no time did Jonathan show the ambition of desperation for his master's seat despite knowing the condition of Yar'Adua's health and his unlikely return to power. I wonder if many of us would have acted responsibly. No one could fault Jonathan for taking up his constitutional duty and for seeking a fresh term for himself on completion of his predecessor's term as long as was not constitution barred.

Those who insisted on PDP zoning arrangement have often advanced their argument on moral ground, which is legitimate. However, if you examine those talking of moral ground, then the more you think that the south should rule for another 30 years. That power shift should wait as a form of political power settlement.

PDP power arrangement per say may not be bad but it is limited in scope unless, the presidency has been perpetually conceded to the PDP in the absence of other parties incorporating it in their party's constitution. Besides, the urgency to unite our people means we must abandon zoning any political office in Nigeria. Instead, we should be looking beyond ethnicity and geographical divide in choosing those that govern us. Anything that reminds us of our division is negative and weakens our nationhood. Even so, it is difficult to understand the rationale for zoning arrangement, which was unheard of in previous PDP nominations, became so pronounced during Jonathan's candidateship. Irrespective of sentiment and northern animosity, he won it because of southern cohesion and progressive liberal northerners (north central and south) as reflected in the just concluded national assembly and presidential elections. If the so-called zoning apostles were serious, they ought to boycott PDP's presidential primary, which perhaps could have resulted in a stalemate. That they did not do so and had a consensus candidate, who lost; yet won't come to term with the evil of their own making, is strange. When you put their understanding of morals in context, President Jonathan occupies the higher plane. Nigeria can only be ruled by someone who cut across its length and breadth and not by an ethnic demagogue in light of the constitutional threshold of 25 percent vote in at least 25 states in addition to popular majority. The so-called northern political elite of cabals worked against founding a new Nigeria, which Jonathan has now come to symbolised by his victory in the free election.

After Jonathan 's victory in the PDP's primary election, he acted as an exceptional leader by not using the power of office to stifle opposition parties and harass Ciroma and his group who resorted to uncivilised use of words to heat up the political space. There were others including Babangida who worked behind the scene to create pre-election tension and crisis in hope of chaos to sabotage the elections for North to achieve power through backdoor of military intervention. Interestingly, our democracy was saved by Jonathan's leadership and neutrality in the electoral process.

Yes, INEC may have had few lapses but so far, the analysis and the pattern of voting in the concluded elections - national assembly and the presidency showed that the electoral body conducted a credible election. That ruling party suffered huge losses in the parliamentary election even though won the presidency but failed in most of its controlled states, is phenomenal. A good development that Buhari and those who cherish democracy ought to be celebrating and not reactionary destruction of lives and properties because of defeat and emotion. Anybody who cherishes our current difficult union would not tell his followers or watch his followers go on rampage and carnage of innocent people and destruction of their properties in view of their religious, or political or ethnic affiliation for the sake of election losses.

The people of the north cannot hold and have a separate agenda if they crave for a united Nigeria. Yar'Adua came to power in an election adjudged to be flawed, which he acknowledged himself and no riot erupted in the north in spite of Buhari being victim of that fraud. Nobody has understanding for the riot in the north; unless, the north is now coming to term with the end of One Nigeria! However, the courts provide the forum for addressing any grievance even though you have doubt in the Nigerian justice system. Nigeria is restarting with Jonathan in power. He embodies the new Nigeria to heal the divide of old politics. We must lay down our sword and let his victory pour down the dividend of democracy that has missed our nation and people. Jonathan is the man of the moment and the enigma of the new Nigeria. You can only fear a vengeful man and if people of north west and north east cannot trust those of the south south, then they must be prepared to seek a new union because the people of the Niger Delta will never allow others to rule over them and their resources.

Jonathan as president means we are achieving the 'no victor and no vanquish' idea of the civil war. We must move away from backward politics of ethnicity that surrendered us to rule of the cabals. All the same, those who feel betrayed by Jonathan's coming to power now have the best of time to ask him to convene a national forum for discussing how to put Nigeria on the path of nationalism and the manifest destiny of electoral democracy and secular state that is not bothered by religion and sharia illegality.

Mr Buhari, Babangida and the Sultan of Sokoto, stop the fire running through the nation. The people of the north have more to lose if you do not come out openly in a public address to speak to those committing atrocities on their fellow citizens in clear terms. Your public standing demands that you act unequivocally. Your silence is unacceptable and evil!!

Nigeria is for all of us no matter where we choose to live and the government has an obligation for the equal protection of the lives and properties of its citizen anywhere. Therefore, President Jonathan must take the advice of the NBA that damages and compensation must be borne by the government of the affected states through deduction of their federal allocation.

Patrick Odionikhere is Legal Adviser, Federal Asylum Office, Austria