On the face of it, the stoning of President Goodluck Jonathan by a vanguard of OAU students is incredible stuff. As an idea, it has a feasibility that can be estimated at a degree shy of impossible. This is because the President enjoys the protection of an elite security force. Alert and nimble, their trained reflex answers any detectable attempt to harm the President: this typically constitutes a disincentive to plot. But pictures and eyewitness accounts confirm that the irreverent students defied the prohibitive risk.
Without doubt, they perpetrated an inexcusable abuse. Their horrific comportment eclipsed whatever legitimate grouses that actuated their protest. Proper undergraduates are supposed to know that office of the President, the highest in the republic, demands the intangible tribute of respect from every citizen. And if one may discount the deficiency of the cumulative education that processed the culprits for admittance through the university gate, they also violated a Yoruba etiquette geography that honors age and reverences the throne. The students effectively attacked the requisite code of their residency in education and culture.
So let’s ask the crucial questions. What may have radicalized young people, who are otherwise socialized to prostrate before majesty, to stone such an exalted personage as the President of Nigeria? What did Jonathan do to deserve the hail of stones that is reserved for the devil in Mecca? The answer can be traced back to the day President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated a modern Stone Age.
On February 3, 2012, President Jonathan mounted the soapbox of Seriake Dickson’s gubernatorial campaign rally in Yenagoa and regaled the teeming crowd with a reprehensible story. He told them of how he relished the spectacle of impudent miscreants stoning Timipre Sylva, then incumbent Governor of Bayelsa state. The stoning had occurred during the President’s homeboy visit and bore the decipherable signs of his tacit imprimatur.
President Jonathan said, ‘’Dickson, you brought the people from Abuja to present the flag; the only thing I want to do is to tell you that some time ago I was in Bayelsa and the people stoned the Governor. I was here and you must work hard for Bayelsa not to stone you. The day they stone you, I will join to stone you’’.
At the time, President Jonathan had imagined that his perch on the top of the totem pole exempted him from similar disgrace. But he misjudged: he actually scheduled his own baptism of stones with that cruel public endorsement. Two years later, the spatial distance between Yenagoa and Ile Ife was literally bridged to a stone’s throw.
So the daredevils who cast stones at President Jonathan may have been furnished with good breeding; very unlikely prospects for such despicable stunt. But it seems that Karma, the triumphal payback principle of the universe, momentarily commandeered their volition and drove them to serve President Jonathan a dose of his own medicine.
President Jonathan supervised the stoning assault on the then vulnerable Governor Sylva. Jonathan was content to recline and watch the absurdity run its full course, like some morbid voyeur. He declined to affect indignation that such barbarity could be executed in his presence. He even opined that the incident offered the next Governor a didactic nugget. Jonathan, a PhD, thought he sounded sensible when he decriminalized lynching, proclaiming that any group that thought the Governor had been substantially slothful was free to empty their stone quiver. And he threatened, to dramatic effect, that if such Stone Age mob emerged, he would join, lugging Aso Rock itself. The President made these scandalous declarations without a blush.
Thankfully, the students adopted the President’s recommendation and chose to test its value on him – it was a passable empirical experiment. The OAU lynch mob had apparently determined that Jonathan, the stoning exponent, has now qualified as a stoning target. Has he not been largely idling away like ‘Governor Sylva’? Has he not been a C-in-C in hibernation mode, with Boko Haram sacking entire villages and expanding borders of the territory under their Caliphate?
The takeaway from this Karma return on President Jonathan’s woeful investment is that all of us, at some point, we would be compelled to reap the reincarnation of our actions. And the rebound often comes to initiate the offender into the embarrassment the sufferer has already recovered from. In the ironical role reversal, we see Speaker Tambuwal watching as his oppressor duck stone hits.
We bless God, anyway. One stone could have scored the David point. And Goliath could have fallen flat.