Dr. Jonathan, Only Change Can Change Things,By Garba Shehu

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This period of the year is a time when there is a lot activity associated with religion. Even those of us who are non-Christians find ourselves involved one way or the other with those celebrations, such as the exchange of gifts and visits and now, the deluge of email and sms. Even as he however rejoiced, the president of the country, Dr Goodluck Jonathan  had apparently maintained a fixed  gaze on politics. Abuja, the nation’s capital was swamped by his campaign posters, well-designed and printed, announcing that there was no vacancy in the Villa come 2015. This is coming barely a year and some months into his current term of office.

My friend, Dr Reuben Abati was 100 percent correct when he said the President needn’t order the arrest of these campaigners to prove that he had not commenced an early campaign for the 2015 presidential contest.

Hear Reuben: “President Jonathan has not launched any campaign for re-election in 2015. He has not asked anybody to go and paste posters around Abuja. Whoever those people are they are acting on their own.They are not President Jonathan’s agents. They are onto their mischief.”

Reuben ended by saying that since the police have their jobs cut out for them,they know what to do in the circumstance. Unfortunately for Reuben and the President’s media team, much of the political class, the police force and the country’s teeming population will not read this and even if they did, they will not believe them. This is considering that there is a lot of motion and movement  even without words being spoken by the President in the direction of 2015.
Now, as to the question of whether Jonathan will be President again in 2015, it is difficult if not dangerous to guess. This is currently a matter before a judge. In addition, God’s ways are too intricate for the mind to answer but if the President wins another term in 2015 elections, it will not be of the freewill of the people. How many oaths of office is he going to take? And under which constitution? What is he going to tell Nigerians that he has accomplished and for which they should hand the country to him for another four years?  To be fair, it may not be difficult

pointing at some areas in which a strong performance has been recorded. The President has kept an important hold on the ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP which is important for his political life. They have also kept an enviable human rights record especially in the area of free speech. There is progress in the Railways, electric power generation and the sustenance of democracy as a form of government through improved elections. The negatives include mounting corruption, Boko Haram, Armed robbery and Kidnapping. That the country’s Military choppers are busy ferrying VIPs to private burials when Boko Haram is threatening to seize a sizeable chunk of the Nigerian territory or has done so  already is yet another sad commentary on his government.

A careful examination of Reuben’s choice of words gives a sense of de javu. We have been there before. This type of campaign is not new in Nigeria. Nigerians who want to learn from the president’s poster campaign should dig to the roots of past self-perpetuation campaigns in the country

It was started by the Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon when he resolved that the 1976 hand-over date to civilians was unrealistic. Since then, every ruler except a few has done one form of effort or another to task the patience of Nigerians by seeking an endless term of office. Gowon fell from power following his failure to achieve this. General Babagida, with all his shrewdness and astuteness, wit and cunning; with all those resources at his disposal, he was forced to step aside by popular opinion.

The case of General Abacha was even more spectacular. He was the country’s strongest leader ever. He was ruthless and didn’t spare anyone. Under him, nobody could call for accountability without the fear of reprisal. Abacha threw everything into it but he too failed. Without a shot being fired, Abacha too, quit the scene. The story of President Obasanjo’s tenure elongation plot was reason why some us had the “privilege” of being locked in prison and repeatedly in other detention cells.

As for those posters and their wall-to-wall coverage of Abuja on the New Year day, nobody can do that kind of job without government knowing about it. Nobody could have printed the president’s posters on that scale, at a printing press without anyone getting a hint of it. No,government is behind it all. Men on the streets know the large number of Jonathan groups putting up campaign offices under various  aliases. Anyone of them could have done this. One of such groups, the PDP National Youth Vanguard has already sprang a defense of the posters, an indication clearly that they have more than a passing interest in the campaign.Now if the whole idea is to test the political waters or a dry run of sorts for the campaign, this thing has got the President’s finger burnt and that must force him into a rethink.

The furious debate over those posters is still on. It will probably die down with a little time. But the massive condemnations across the board by ordinary Nigerians is a pointer to what is in wait for PDP in the event that the President decides to be a candidate against the run of public opinion. This is even as no major contender for the office has yet spoken. It is a rare glimpse into what Nigerians think of the current national dispensation.

When he read the New Year message to Nigerians, the President spoke eloquently about the need for change. He said all the right things that the occasion warranted but seemed totally oblivious of the corruption and arrogance that is deeply rooted in the DNA of his cabinet members. Jonathan cannot alter that DNA no matter how much he raises his voice and regardless of any threats that he may issue. Ministers seem not to fear him or the legislature or anyone for that matter. He needs to refresh his team. Only change will change the way things are. He must bring fresh blood if he wants to be believed. Let him find dynamic, aggressive, focused and dedicated people and bring them into his government. Many of them abound in the country if only he cares to look for them. The only question is, can he?


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