By Dr. MIKE A.A. Ozekhome
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is 62 today. GEJ, as he is popularly called, is surely a child of destiny from a very humble and deprived background (he could not wear shoes at 10; same as my grass-to-grace story, as I could not even wear pant (dross) at 10, let alone shoes). Jonathan emerged from virtually nowhere and taught Africans and Nigerians the true meaning of democracy,as espoused by ex-American President, Abraham Lincoln, in his 1863 Gettysburg Declaration, as “government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
Under Jonatan, Nigeria truly enjoyed unhindered peace, tranquility, prosperity, rule of law, respect for citizens’ fundamental rights, obedience to court orders, even as he strengthened, widened and deepened the plenitude and amplitude of constitutional democracy and transparent governance.
The electoral process was made free, fair, credible and transparent. Nigeria overtook South Africa as the biggest economy in Africa, rebased with over $500 billion. Nigeria became one of the fastest growing economies in the world. President Jonathan was serially and routinely abused, insulted, denigrated and humiliated, both in his official capacity and as an individual.
He was bespattered with the ignoble paint brush of odium, shame, derision and obloquy. He waived it all off with smiles and affability, saying it was the right of the citizens to critique their leaders and hold them accountable and responsible to the people, even if means using expletives and outright abuse.
Perhaps, his greatest take-away epochal and historic statement that placed him in the undoubted pantheon of unforgettable world statesmen, was when he pungently declared, “any ambition I have at any time is not worth the blood of Nigerians”.
Speaking to a stunned audience of the All Political Parties Summit in Abuja, Jonathan preached that no Nigerian should should kill or maim himself or herself because of his presumed 2015 second term ambition. The now internationally acclaimed democratic icon concluded, “I would never, ever expect a Nigerian to spill a drop of his blood because Goodluck Jonathan has some ambitions. Nigerians should always preach peace and unity in their engagements. This is the only way the country will achieve greatness”. GEJ meant every word of it. He lived true to his promise when he voluntarily conceded defeat in a 2015 fundamentally flawed presidential election, even before the votes had been completely counted and announced.
What do we see today? A total and complete reversal of the lofty legacies of this icon of democracy in every facet of life. Every issue of nobility that Jonathan stood for has either been bastardised or consigned to the vehicle of historical oblivion. Insecurity is today worse today than ever before. Nigeria is not just a hungry country; it has been officially pronounced as the poverty capital of the world, overtaking India.
Nigeria is today one of the 148 most corrupt Nations of the world and the second most corrupt in West Africa. Elections have become festive celebrations of crimson blood, mayhem, arson and killings. Polling units have been turned into theatres of human bloodbath.
Ballot papers have been replaced with bullet magazines. Citizens’ votes are neither counted, nor allowed to count. Freedom of speech and right to liberty have become gravely engendered and imperiled. The hate speech bill before the NASS and targeted at the opposition, Rights Activists and social critics, prescribes the death penalty. It has passed the first reading. It is reminiscent of the then General Muhammadu Buhari’s1984 draconian Decree 4,under which Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor of the Guardian newspapers were jailed for reporting truth, just because a report about certain diplomatic postings allegedly embarrassed the Buhari military junta, even though it was true.
GEJ sir, as you clock 62 years on earth today, Nigerians, nay, Africans, the black world and humanity in general celebrate you. They will never forget your indelible contributions and prints in the democratic sand of time. Your name is forever etched in history, indelibly and luminously. Any historian, however, unkind and antagonistic to your person and personae, even if unwilling to give you a full book, must at least surely give you a page, or a chapter, or a paragraph, or a sentence, or a phrase.
The important thing is that it is totally impossible to completely forget or obliterate you, your noble deeds, political wizardry, democratic credentials, and more importantly, humanity, from Nigeria’s history. I wish you a very happy birthday, many happy returns and peace that posset all understanding (Phil 4:7).Kindly accept from me, Genesis 6:3.That is your portion sir.
– Nov. 22, 2019 @ 19:09 GMT |