President Goodluck Jonathan appeared to have embraced his defeat until Thursday, April 30, 2015. At the submission of the report of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organization in the State House, he said, ‘’if you look at the result, the difference is just over two million votes. And if you look at the areas where it is perceived that PDP scored so low, PDP couldn’t have gotten those kinds of scores but the elections are over; we put the country first’’.
Paraphrase: My party remains the darling of majority of the electorate. The margin of votes that put my rival in the lead was unreal. I was cheated. The candidate of All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, did not swat me down by two million votes. INEC contrived that outcome. Buhari won by favoritism and I lost to partiality.
It sounds familiar. It is an Orubebe echo from another voice.
Peter Godsday Orubebe, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and one of Jonathan’s loyalists, sought to wreak havoc on the last lap of the collation of results, when it was becoming increasingly clear that his patron had lost.
Orubebe grabbed a microphone and began to hector and heckle. He called INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega, ’’ biased’’, ’’ tribalisitic,’’ ‘’partial.’’ Orubebe demanded that ‘’if you want peace in this country’’ the collation of results be suspended and his complaint against the results from some Northern states accepted.
Jega’s mouth and wisdom saved the day. He didn’t descend into the swamp to wrestle with insanity. He gave Orubebe a didactic rebuke that seemed to exorcise the legion of demons that had possessed the ‘’Elder’’. And the collation continued.
Orubebe’s dare-devil stunt trended on Twitter. He garnered generous views on Youtube. He provoked sympathy, comedy and ridicule. He also stimulated questions.
People asked what may have inspired him. Na only Orubebe waka come? Did he conceive and execute the plot to incommode that very delicate moment alone? Did the temerity that energized him to attempt to hijack the collation originate from his own person? Or was he intoxicated by the insurance granted him by the Sovereign on whose behalf he was venturing?
The questions are now answered. They have been solved by President’s Jonathan’s invocation of Orubebe’s outburst. There was a method to the madness. Orubebe had taken the brief of his master. And that produced the tragedy Jega helped to deflect.
This is a positive revelation. It separates the mask from the man. It bares the true face of the man who has managed to convince some Nigerians that he wears a crown of halo.
President Goodluck Jonathan had played like he took his defeat in its stride. He had affected good sportsmanship. He called Buhari to congratulate him before the final vote tally was concluded.
Jonathan made a pacifist telecast that brought a sense of relief to many people who were worried over some bloodshed that had been forecasted to lie on the other side of the announcement of the election result. He consoled the Peoples Democratic Party, asking its members not to assume his loss an occasion to mourn.
A lot of Nigerians praised Jonathan for achieving the feat of acknowledging defeat. They thanked him for rejecting the temptation to explore other options that could have precipitated a national crisis.
World leaders followed our lead and kissed Jonathan better. They sent him tributes. And he liked the appreciation of his stock. His re-election loss, rather than diminish him, burnished his profile. Who has ever had good luck enough to earn global acclaim for declining to pretend that they had lost an election?
To cement his status as a statesman, Jonathan had his aides propagate a recording of his stilted one minute telephone conversation with Buhari. Call it a breach of protocol, but it further skyrocketed the loser’s rating. Some began to campaign that Jonathan has paid the full price for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Jonathan waived his right to challenge the election. He swore that he would not question Buhari’s victory at the tribunal. He even prevailed on the leadership of his party to drop its plan to file a petition.
President Jonathan would later make a remark that seemed to represent gratitude to his non-voters as well as his perspective of the upside of the truncation of his political career. He said his defeat was a welcome release. He has been in the cage of power since 1999, when he became Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.
It’s the selfsame Jonathan who is projecting himself as a casualty of electoral fraud. He is the one calling a pity party. But Jonathan need not abandon himself to grief.
There is a good chance that a mix of factors is exacting a heavy toll on Jonathan’s psychology: The desertion of his regular hangers-on, the escalation of the work of the FG and Buhari Transition Committees, and the epiphany from the sight of his aides packing his personal effects in preparation for existence outside the Presidency. But Jonathan has no reason to badmouth a vote he has would rather not dispute.
There is a prescribed way for interrogating the integrity of an election. If Jonathan is wiser now than before his concession, he can seek redress. If he just awoke to the fact that he was rigged out, it is still morning. He should instruct his lawyers to use the window of opportunity allowed by the Electoral Act and file a petition. Not complain as though he was helpless and hopeless.
He cannot claim to ‘’put the country first’’ when he is contesting the legitimacy of Buhari’s mandate outside the bounds of the law. He cannot erect the credentials of a peacemaker on mischief.
President Jonathan doesn’t have to acquiesce to a perceived injustice for the sake of peace. Peace is not superior to justice. He should approach the court, if he thinks he has a valid case. His judicial challenge will profit the country more than his bitter murmuring.
Nigeria is a democracy. The only acceptable pathway to power is elections. If the process of an election is compromised, the entire citizenry is shortchanged. And the injury is not done to one contestant; it is done to all everyone whose quality of life will be governed by the result of that declared vote.
To ‘’ put the country first’’ means to be a patriot. If President Jonathan would let Nigeria to be ruled on an untenable premise in order to procure for himself the reputation of a peacemaker, he has put self ahead of country.
Jonathan’s presumed discovery of an anomaly of that order imposes on him the obligation to help in the purifying the Nigerian electoral system. He would be cooperating with the perpetrators of the felony, if he allows the violation of the vote to go unchallenged. He needs to let the country profit from his grievance.
The very process of determining the merits of his case will illuminate that election and properly characterize it as an incident of history. His election petition will task the judiciary to examine whether INEC demonstrated substantial compliance with extant provisions of the law. The judges will examine on the basis of evidence whether some freebie votes lost Jonathan victory.
When the truths of the election are verified and validated, competing fictional narratives fall by the wayside. As the fact is extricated from fiction, we gather what to store and what to discard, we acknowledge any inherent shortcomings and learn the lessons, and the country takes one more step towards progressive growth and maturity.
President Jonathan knows that making allegations of electoral fraud doesn’t achieve any good thing. It doesn’t correct the supposed flaws. It doesn’t proof the electoral system against future manipulation.
Insinuations of rigging can only serve as fodder for gossip. Beyond words, it stokes ill will in millions of voters who are still ruing Jonathan’s defeat and resentment in millions of others who are still celebrating Buhari’s victory.
It’s ironical that President Jonathan is promoting himself as a brand of peacemaker who cannot hold his peace. That’s an illustration for oxymoron. Peacemakers bear fruit worthy of the name.
A lover of peace in Jonathan’s shoes (no pun intended) will not be working hard to revise the context of his defeat. He would be focused on managing a seamless transition. He would be busy clearing his desk. He won’t run the risk of inciting his support base.
We know of a certain Dame, who while actively instigating anarchy in her home state, settled for an alias that was oddly antithetical to her exertions. She christened herself Mama Peace and commanded to be so called!
It was Mama Peace who mounted a campaign rostrum and authorized thousands of attendees to stone their neighbors to death for the heinous crime of chanting the other party’s slogan!
Nigeria needs a calm atmosphere in the run up to the inauguration of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari. Not some Papa Peace fanning public disaffection.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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