Invariably, there comes a time when men are not just shaped by history, when history beckons onto such to shape the future. One of such rare opportunities is being presented to the accidental President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Not someone deemed likely to ascend to the oft competitive and awfully powerful position of leading the largest black nation on earth, his ears and heart must be full at the moment with not just the task of choosing a capable deputy but on if and why he should run to extend his tenure in 2011. I believe he would and he should, and here is why.
First, because of the unique circumstances of his ascension to power, President Jonathan is perhaps the only living "qualified" Nigerian seemingly disqualified from seeking eight years of presidential power. The unique 1999 constitution virtually term limits Presidents not by the number of years spent in office, but the numbers of times they are sworn in (i.e. two). Hence, all things being equal, President Jonathan is virtually term limited to five years. Given this circumstances, it will be politically inept of him to spend four years in the wilderness, while his political influence wane all in the name of some gentleman rotational agreement that never held water.
Speaking of this oft mentioned rotational agreement, one must be clear that such agreement is only and has always been a PDP cabal affair. In 2003, General Buhari contested with much fanfare against President Obasanjo. Buhari won handily in many states, and had at least a theoretical chance to overturn that flawed election in the court assuming our Judges had the cohunes to call the gangster political elites to order. They didn't. Indeed, this agreement even within the PDP has been circumspect. The political prostitute and former Vice President Atiku now discovering rotational principle religion did contemplate a run against his boss in 2003, for which he was never forgiven and for which he is still paying the price!
Like the unseen of fate, various intersecting events the least of which was the sickness and death of the Former President Yar'Adua indeed has set up the stage for a Jonathan presidency. The larger events surrounding the former President's health has done more than good to the brighter ambitions of his then Vice President. Indeed, the rising profile of the President is due to the macabre dance of shame that surrounded the departure of his former boss. Be it as it may, the oft quoted interview of "cabals" by current information minister largely discredited the very elites now narrowly pursuing sectional interests that belongs to the past.
Hearing old school politicians like Alhaji Kaita insist on Presidency to the North or else, reminds one of a man who long abandoned in the train station threatens to sue the railway authority for late coming. Kaita belongs to a discredited past. Clearly, most Nigerians do not care where the President comes from after the disastrous turn-by-turn leadership of the last fifty years! A recent BBC report" to that effect largely echoes the feelings of ordinary Nigerians, long shuttered out of the corridors of power as the elites help themselves to the country's wealth.
The floor is also shifting on ethnic sensibilities. The cross-dynamic effect of crisis in the Middle Belt and tensions in the Niger Delta particularly makes a Jonathan Presidency a real possibility. The myth of a monolithic North being at its low provides an opportune time for the first minority-minority coalition to lead the nation out of its current precipice. Indeed, the golden goose which is the Niger Delta will not find it funny if some Kaita suddenly arrogates a country which the minerals beneath then fund to a self serving empire of vampires. The Kaitas of the world may be irrevocably playing with fire (I mean literarily) and not realize it.
Speaking of the competition, those ones that have shown their hands so far seem to make the path easier for the man of fate. What political downside is there to it to contest an election against an inept Atiku, or a jailed Ibrahim Babangida assuming it was fair? There is no political downside to jailing IBB in this season, and the fangs of Ribadu are never too far away; am sure the perennial henchman will be too happy to do the job to enhance his international stature having smelt the aroma of such grandstanding in his current stint overseas. Indeed, the competition makes Jonathan's ambition even more viable.
When one puts one and two together, all these conditions i.e. PDP's opposition and insistence on rotational presidency, the legs being blown off the cabal and the weak competition, one sees a construct that forces the hand of Jonathan. The best outcome for Nigeria is PDP actually following through with its threat. This will create the best recipe for reforming elections in Nigeria. For the first time, the conditions may be right for an incumbent to conduct a clean and fair election; the interest of a "partyless" Jonathan being firmly aligned with this desire. It is clear that the ruling party is in itself will be insufficient in the face of transparent elections, and as such it will be in Jonathan's interest to reform the system. A fair election against any of PDP's weakened candidates will see Jonathan ride the wave of populism into Aso Rock as an independent, and a more variegated political landscape emerge. This may be what we need.
Those daring the President seem to forget the lessons of the not so distant past. He, who pays the piper, dictates the tune. The Presidency is for the incumbent president to lose, and I have not met any politician that will give up such crucial advantage with all the popular goodwill that abounds for him to some selfish, narrow thinking cabal long discredited, and easily isolated self serving old school politicians. Get used to it, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Sounds good to me; even though I am yet to figure out what is in it for Nigeria.