Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The North and Goodluck Jonathan Presidency

It is no news that Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is fully in-charge as the Acting President of the Federal Republic Nigeria. But the high-wired political intrigues, manoeuvres and horse-trading that heralded his emergence as the Acting President will continue to deepen as well as become very interesting. As events unfold, political pundits and students of history will have a lot to comment on, learn from and also use to predict things to come, while ordinary Nigerians will watch with keen interest.

The emergence of Yar’Adua as the President of Nigeria was a product of many factors. One of the main factors was the unwritten ‘agreement’ of power rotation between the north and south, which many observers see as undemocratic and also an offshoot of the never-ending ploy by the Nigerian political elites to continue to hold on to power, but it supporters described idea as the only way-out for all parts of the country to taste power.

Goodluck Jonathan’s Acting Presidency and the likelihood of him becoming the President will interweave within three issues; the return or otherwise of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the North’s political moves and Goodluck’s political future.

The north would be the epicentre of politics to come. Since the emergence of the facts about President Yar’Adua’s health status, political gladiators in the region are busy putting their political machinery to action by building networks and strategising for the 2011 presidential election, believing that the probability of Yar’Adua seeking a second term is very slim. There is strong feeling within the political class in the north, that the region must hold on to power till 2015 based on the aforementioned unwritten agreement, but most observers are quick to remind the political elites from the north that during the 2003 elections which was the turn of the south to complete their eight years in power, the same north fielded candidates to seek the office of the President.

Let’s assume all things being equal, and the north is allowed to go solo; is the political class in the region ready to make amends and present a candidate that would bring dynamisms and also exhibit an understanding of global trends? The north had made a serious mistake by allowing Obasanjo to pick his choice to represent it, because the region had the political power to block Obasanjo then. Though, the beauty of this remains a lesson to other regions when their ‘turn’ comes.

Now that it appears the north is slowly losing the Presidency, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan will be closely watched by the region; in addition, his actions and inactions will be thoroughly read by the northern political class. In return, the Acting President has to face the north with two calculations in his mind. The first; he has to keep in his mind the likelihood of the return of his boss, Yar’Adua, in this case, Jonathan will employ his usual tactic of being Mr. Patient. So, those that are expecting him to go bananas will be disappointed. But if he eventually becomes the President, he has to play the imitable- approach the north through political manoeuvring that requires reaching painstaking political agreement and concessions. Politics, they say, is all about give and take.

However, if Yar’Adua returns, Jonathan’s political calculations will definitely change. As earlier mentioned, the man must have been playing his politics with two things in mind, the return or otherwise of his boss. If Yar’Adua returns, Jonathan’s calculations must be on how to remain the Vice President, regardless of who will be the presidential candidate that will be presented by the north. Though, the feeling in many quarters is, the likelihood of Yar’Adua going for second term is slim. But is Yar’Adua ready to allow the north to represent another candidate for the 2011 presidential elections. If the north presents another candidate, there is no grantee he/she will do only one term of four years, so as to allow the south takeover, thus jeopardising Acting President Goodluck Jonathan chance of becoming President after the north might have finished its two terms.

If Yar’Adua do not eventually return, and in the end Acting President Goodluck Jonathan becomes the President, there is nothing that can stop him from seeking election into the office of the President, in fact many political elites from the north will campaign for him if they see the possibilities of their interests being promoted. In that case, high-wired politics that involves manoeuvres and horse-trading will be employed. Another possible scenario is, if Jonathan performs excellently, this will give him the advantage of winning the heart of Nigerians. He may also use the leverage of being the President and impose himself in 2011 as the President using the machinery of the State.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s political future will be determined by four issues, the first and the most important is the return or otherwise of President Yar’Adua, the second is the political direction of the north, the third is his political intention and his ability to craftily play the usual Nigerian politics, while the fourth which is also closely tied to the first is his performance in office. Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has found himself in a situation that both politics and policies may determine his political future. To see him through, he has to take careful political steps and intelligent policies, these require more than good luck!

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo. com, 08036070980.