If there is any individual in contemporary Nigeria whose life has given ample justification for the folk saying (recently made popular by his own dear wife, Mrs Patience Jonathan) “There is God o”, that person must be President Goodluck Jonathan. He is named “Goodluck” and he has indeed been lucky aplenty. What further evidence do we need about the concurrence of his Chi with his christening than the fact that while millions of others have to fight “tooth and nail” just to get by in life, he on the contrary, has continually been having his proverbial palm kernels struck for him by a pantheon of benevolent spirits? He has a PhD, right, but his public erudition is however suspect; his eloquence is worrying and his overall personal outlook is misleading, to put it mildly. Who says then there is nothing called luck?
While he was quietly eating his dinner one evening, some strangers came to him and like the three wise men who came to greet Jesus in his cradle in Bethlehem, they called him out and in low tones broke the good news to him, a gift, that he has been chosen to be the running mate to someone he has never met or probably heard of before that night. With banga soup still dripping from his fingers, he thanked them for the strange offer whose overall implications he was yet to minimally comprehend. Well, from that purely fortuitous encounter, the man went on to actually become a deputy governor; and by the stroke of another lucky circumstance, he became a governor thereafter.
As if his stock of good luck is inexhaustible, he was again unexpectedly picked from there by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo whose words were laws in those days. Obasanjo thought that the best person to run with the physically doubtful Musa Yar’ Adua was Goodluck Jonathan who, even after he had succeeded Alamieyesigha as the governor of Bayelsa State, still continued to act as if he was not the governor but a only peculiar caretaker. That singular feature of absolute lack of overt ambition recommended him to Obasanjo who, at that time, was still smarting from the sleeplessness that his estranged deputy, Atiku Abubakar, gave him.
No sooner the Yar’Adua/Jonathan regime came on board than the (un)-expected happened. Yar’ Adua died and it became the lot of the vice-president to step into the office of his late boss in accordance with the constitutional provisions dealing with succession. Some tried to frustrate his emergence until the arcane “doctrine of necessity” came to his rescue. He eventually became the President, then went on to win an election in his own right thereafter for the first time in his political career at the expiration of the inherited part of the Yar’ Adua presidency.
Now that he is gunning for his second and final term in office, so many unfortunate things that can only be explained as “bad luck” are happening all in a torrent at this critical stage of the race. It is only ill-luck, for example, that could have brought down the price of oil, the nation’s economic mainstay, so sharply from about 140 dollars to just about 50 dollars per barrel, a fall that is more than 100 per cent. No matter how we try to manage the development, it is certainly bad news for any incumbent president. With the fall in the oil price is the rise in the poverty and economic hardship that will be the lot of Nigerians. In an election year, that is the real definition of bad luck.
Unless our elections are not about the material well-being of the voters, it is hard to imagine that people who are currently reeling under the negative implications of an empty government coffers will gladly cast their votes for the same man under whose watch such misfortune came to them. Obviously, not many voters will understand the helplessness of the President in the determination of the price of oil in the international market. Is Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke not now the president of OPEC? Is it not the time to use the OPEC presidency to correct the slide, they may ask? As if that was not enough, the national currency took such a hard beating that it has, more or less, become valueless vis-à-vis the dollar.
As you read this, on the contrary, Americans and other people all over the world are enjoying an unprecedented cheap petrol bonanza. Giant Suvs are reappearing all over the highways once more because the price of petrol has dropped drastically. People are bound to ask: why is that not so in Nigeria where the crude oil is drilled?
Needless to say that the Boko Haram phenomenon is yet another bad luck for the president. In an election year, woe betides an incumbent seeking re-election who loses or is perceived to be losing a war. President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 US presidential election suddenly lost his campaign traction when the Iranian crisis broke and with so many Americans held hostage in Tehran followed by a botched rescue mission. It was a lost cause.
To make matters worse for Mr. President, everybody including his adopted “fada” IBB, seems to have come to the dubious conclusion that his administration is the most corrupt in the history of this country. A crooked syllogism on this theme was rendered by IBB himself when he said last week that by today’s corruption standards, his much-maligned government as corrupt is now very much the “saint”. The inference there is simply that seeing how dominant corruption is today under Jonathan, his era must now be re-classified as the days of the angels. As if there is a conspiracy against the man by ex-military leaders, OBJ also came out, typically smoking, to laugh that Jonathan has squandered more than 55 US billion reserved dollars since he assumed power, backing his allegations with a maze of figures and accounting statements that vividly paint Jonathan in the worse possible colours.
When a hefty 21 billion naira was raised to energise GEJ unconvincing re-election bid, many thought that his luck is still very much intact if so much cash could be raised from state governors who are not able to pay salaries in their states, government agencies that are seeking aibi for their non-performance on “lack of funds” and many others characters of dubious integrity that only remind the people about the unbridled looting in government. When it was pointed out that the amount so raised is a 20 billion jump into illegality by virtue of the 2010 Electoral Act which pegged election funding for presidential election to just I billion naira per candidate, it suddenly became obvious that it was a 21 billion naira Greek’s gift unless we are telling the world that there are no campaign funding rules in Nigeria.
When you add this catalogue of unfortunate developments to the non-availability of PVC in some selected parts of the country, you should be seeing a time-bomb lurking behind the facade of regularity. An election that is won through naked violations of the guiding laws can only be classified as rigged which could in our peculiar suspicious inter-party relationship lead to untold social upheaval.
I really wish that this litany of negative developments against the President had not happened at this election season. What a time for a man whose entire life has all been defined by the singular element of luck?