Thursday, April 15, 2021

Write, Jonathan, write!, by Dele Agekameh


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
tiamin rice

He started off as a young, promising political reporter in the journalism profession which he cherishes a lot. By dint of hard work, perseverance, consistency and intellectual prowess, he has meticulously and meretriciously risen, through the years, to the pinnacle of his profession. Today, Olusegun Adeniyi, is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of ThisDay newspapers. A one-time presidential spokesman, Adeniyi has featured in several academic and professional fora, within and outside the shores of Nigeria. He is also an author with many titles to his credit.

Adeniyi surely knows when and how to arrest the attention of the public after major events that need to be put in historical perspective for both the living and unborn Nigerians in particular and the larger humanity in general. Last Friday, April 28, 2017, was yet another eventful day for Adeniyi as he brought together some heavyweights in the nation’s political firmament at the launch of the latest addition to his repertoire of intellectual works.

His new book, a 204-page treatise titled: Against the Run of Play, chronicles, blow by blow, contemporary political developments in the country that culminated in a gargantuan disgrace for a hitherto formidable political party that had all along prided itself as the biggest party in Africa. Not only this. The behemoth of a party had openly boasted to high heavens that it had the capacity to rule Nigeria till eternity. But, in spite of this confidence and boisterous assumption, the party was roundly defeated at the presidential election of 2015, after only 16 unbroken years in power.

This well-choreographed book which has since become the topic of major discourse everywhere, has revealed the roles of most of the major political actors and dramatis personae in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election. It also lays bare the intricate factors, human and institutional, that led to the defeat of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in his bid for re-election in 2015. The experiences of some of the major actors at the time, which form part of the author’s narrative, helps in no small measure in giving the book a good mileage in authority and credibility.

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But then, as they say, success has many friends, while failure is an orphan. For Jonathan, a man whose good luck was shattered by the 2015 presidential election and was left to leave Aso Villa like an embattled hare with its tail tucked behind its hindlegs, the memory of the loss still haunts till date. From his recent utterances, he is clearly still very bitter that those he trusted to make it happen at the presidential election, actually worked against his interests, accounting for the colossal failure at the polls.

Even before the book was launched and following the launch, the former president had been in the news. Jonathan has not hidden his discomfort over the account given in the book about events that led to the 2015 presidential election that sacked him from the formidable fortress of Aso Rock Villa. The former president has blamed everybody, with the exception of himself, for his failure at the polls.

He has also blamed certain foreign governments and personalities, including David Cameron, former British prime minister and Barack Obama, former American president, for removing him from office. Jonathan believes that the narrations of some individuals in the book were distorted. And in order to put the record straight, he said that he will come out with a true narrative of what really transpired during the electioneering period.

He reinforced this by posting a series of tweets through his Twitter handle. Part of the tweets read: “I have just read Segun Adeniyi’s new book, ‘Against the Run of Play’ which has so far enjoyed tremendous reviews in the media. My take on it is that the book as presented contains many distorted claims on the 2015 Presidential election by many of the respondents”.
“There will obviously be more books like that on this subject by concerned Nigerians. However, I believe that at the right time, the main characters in the elections including myself, will come out with a true account of what transpired either in major interviews or books.”

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This is the crux of the matter. It is obvious that nobody can tell the story of how Jonathan and his octopodial party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were uprooted in the 2015 presidential election by the alliance of four major political parties, namely: the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC); All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and part of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which all came under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

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Like Jonathan rightly observed, many players in that election will surely come up with various accounts of that election. Many of them will write to justify the position they took during the election. In that case, there could be some additions or subtractions, whatever the case may be, to achieve desired results. Now that he has hinted that he might put pen to paper to narrate his own experience, we must encourage him to do so. Doing so will afford the reading public the rare opportunity to hear directly from the horse’s mouth.

Although they say those who watch football matches see much more of the pitch than the actual players on the field of play, it will be a good thing for Jonathan to document for posterity not only his experience during the 2015 presidential election, but also his tenure as deputy-governor, governor, vice-president, acting president and president, spanning many years. This will afford him the opportunity to explain his contribution in governance (if any), the type of decisions he took, why he took them and why some decisions were not taken even when they were absolutely necessary, and all that.

However, an unsolicited advice for Jonathan is that he should be mindful of the type of wishy-washy biography recently written by General Ishaya Bamaiyi. Instead of promoting his image, the book ended up soiling him. He simply wrote an autobiography to denounce himself. Therefore, in putting together his own memoirs, Jonathan should stick to the truth and nothing but the truth, if he is to extricate himself from the cobweb of doubts about his capacity to govern a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and politically pluralistic society as ours.

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As things stand now, many people within and outside Nigeria believe the former President’s tenure as president was riddled with endemic corruption, visionlessness and like a two-time governor once put it in a private conversation I had with him, “Jonathan was bedevilled by lack of capacity to rule”, even though he was the first Ph.D holder to ever rule Nigeria.

As someone who closely observed him right from the time he was deputy governor in Bayelsa State, to his exploits in Abuja, Jonathan comes across as someone who is very nervous, jelly and easily makes enemies or is quick to tag someone as an enemy once all the flotsam and jetsam of people around him concoct any story against anybody they perceive could easily outsmart them. This was probably why he lost the confidence of many of those who could have helped him to succeed as the first minority president in Nigeria, while he pandered to the whims and caprices of political entrepreneurs and commercial friends who ran rings around him in the Villa. And of course, Patience, his audacious wife, also contributed a fat premium to his ouster.

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Jonathan’s major undoing was that in 2015, he entrusted his campaign more in the hands of political scavengers, charlatans and known rogues. They were pariahs in their various communities who succeeded in hoodwinking him to believe that they were capable of delivering the votes, even though they knew quite well that they were not credible, mainly because of their ignoble past.

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