One of the president's aides, who is the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Abba Aji, was in the news last week, inaugurating zonal arms of a pro-Jonathan campaign group of which he is the chairman. Incidentally, the aide who is a government official is not bothered about any impropriety or duplicity in his role as a government employee and a campaign manager of the president.
He has happily told journalists that the president's directive to his aides to stop campaigning for him pending his conclusion of consultations with stakeholders on his presidential ambition, did not apply to him. The aide said the directive did not apply to him because he actually heads the president's campaign group. And, this is at a time that he is drawing salaries from the government as a Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters!
Another high profile government official, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe, has confirmed conclusion of consultations by the president on his ambition. He has told Nigerians to expect a declaration of intention to enter the presidential race in 2011 from President Jonathan, very soon, as the President is now “set to declare his interest.” The minister, who spoke with newsmen in Warri, Delta State, went on to canvass the benefits of a Jonathan presidency and the need to dump zoning to pave way for a candidate from the South South, which has never “tasted” the presidency of the country.
It is okay for the president's aides to seek a place for him in next year's presidential race. The president, like every other Nigerian, has a right to contest the presidential election. The only fear that has been canvassed in many quarters is the danger of jettisoning the PDP zoning arrangement for Jonathan now, considering that without such a zoning arrangement, power may never peacefully come down south again, considering the fact that the population of the North has been accepted to be higher than that of Southern Nigeria.
Also, the Northerners might not be so “careless” to allow power come down South again, without a serious fight that could take any dimension. However, the focus today is not so much whether the president will be contesting next year or not. The more important question his campaigners should be asking, and trying to find answers to, is what a further four years of Jonathan's presidency will mean to Nigeria.
For ordinary Nigerians, beyond the muscle flexing over zoning, is the more important issue of the legacy to be left by the incumbent president, and whether Nigerians will want more of that legacy, or another person in the presidential saddle, come the general elections next year. The president really needs to show that he is the person needed for the job at hand. For now, the difference between this regime and that of the late Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua, is not very clear. Although there are seeming rays, and a few raindrops, of hope, in some sectors, like education, where Professor Rukayyat Ahmed Rufai, is trying to make a difference, it is “the showers that we need.”
For the president, and others intent on getting in the presidential saddle next year, Nigerians do not want a president just for the sake of “being like other nations”, just like Israelites clamoured for a king in Bible days. We need a president who can make a difference. A person, who has a vision to move the nation forward, and to save the people from the butt of cruel jokes for being prominent on all indices of poor development including high maternal and child mortality rates, polio, poverty; out of school children, illiteracy, poor access to university education, poor quality roads; water and power supply, amongst many others.
Nigerians deserve a leader who has a vision for a brighter and more respectable future, and the willpower to attain it. For once, getting to the country's No I seat should not be to burnish egos, or to represent a particular part of the country. It should not be an opportunity to occupy the position as a representative of a section of the country, and to work for the betterment of that section, or to protect the interest of cronies and political appointees. The new president that we want must see the entire country as his constituency.
He must develop a morbid hatred of the sorry condition of most Nigerians. The bad state of Nigerians roads; poor health care facilities, unemployment and poor power supply should be a personal heartache to him. He must have within his bowels, passion to make a difference, and the will to be “THE ONE', that Nigerians have been looking for. The challenge before all Nigerians in next year's polls is to seek out such a person and vote him into office.
For all the contestants angling to contest in next year's elections, it is not too late for introspection and realignment. Let them all realign their thinking with the greatest need of the moment. History is beckoning on President Jonathan and all those who would challenge him in next year's polls to strive to be the answer to Nigerians' many questions.
Nigerians deserve a new day under the sun. The sad story the nation has been telling since independence calls for a visionary to take the country to a new level.It is not enough to commit so much money to electioneering campaigns, what is more important is the benefit that will accrue to the nation from the aspirants' candidature. President Goodluck has an opportunity in his laps to do the best he can for the country now, and to seek the people's mandate for another four-year term next year. He should seize that chance with both hands, and do his best to change the Nigerian story.
His challengers have an equal chance to get their act together and articulate a credible plan to win the hearts of Nigerians in the coming elections. The battle for the presidency next year should not be based on zoning, incumbency, money politics and all those issues that have never helped the country. It should be based on hard facts on persons with the passion, the vision and the competence to take Nigeria to the Promised Land. That person might, per chance, be Jonathan. And, it might not. May God give Nigerians the grace and the common sense to put sentiments aside and seek out the man or woman who will re-write the story of this country, for good.