We must be fair to Jonathan

Can vengeance be pursued further than death? That was the questionposed by the globally acclaimed writer of all times, WilliamShakespeare, in his masterpiece drama, Romeo and Juliet. It is aquestion that aptly captures the situation Nigeria’s former PresidentGoodluck Jonathan has found himself right now.

The former president lost the March 2015 presidential election andpeacefully handed over to the winner, President Muhammadu Buhari onMay 29, 2015. He retired to his village home in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, perhaps to rue the loss and put his life together once again. Someeven say that his retirement would afford him the opportunity ofpossibly returning to his first love of carrying out zoologicalresearches into Niger Delta biodiversity.

But the manner in which he handed over power caught the world’sattention and the man, in a way is fast becoming the poster boy ofpeaceful transition across Africa. Twice the world has called on himas leader of election delegations to transiting African countries. Hehas also been invited to talks in Europe and America. The point ofattraction for the world is that Jonathan handed over power in Nigeriapeacefully. He conducted a fiercely contested election thatpractically divided Nigeria along sharp and dangerous lines. Theelection was conducted against the backdrop of an American predictionthat claimed Nigeria would cease to be a nation from 2015 as a resultof the fall outs of the year’s election.

Everything pointed to a Nigeria at the precipice. Some citizensrelocated to their ancestral homes, abandoning their voters’ registerfor fear of violence. But even in the heat of the elections, the man Jonathan continued to repeat that his ambition was not worth the bloodof any Nigerian.

Largely due to Jonathan’s personal disposition, Nigeria went throughthe 2015 election without bloodshed. The only people that died did sowhile celebrating. He even put a call through to his main challengermidway into the collation of results to congratulate the winner.  Fromthat point, the election conduct became Jonathan’s selling point. Andnotwithstanding what anyone would say, the world is not likely to losesight of that. Right now, the man appears to be enjoying the fruits ofthat disposition but it appears he has to contend with revisionists.

On Thursday, Jonathan’s office issued a statement to debunk mediareports which linked him to the formation of Niger Delta Avengers(NDA), a group of militants whose activities have crippled thenation’s oil production in recent months. The media reports, took acue from a similar allegation by a member of the group that calleditself Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, but this time, there werereferences to some “intelligence reports.”

It is difficult to believe that the man who left power willingly, tothe acknowledged surprise of his opponent, the man who handed overeven when he had opportunity to negatively affect the system  and cause confusion using state power; the man who refused the advice ofhis inner core to tinker with the leadership of INEC when his mensmelt danger; the man whose five year reign recorded no political killing or political prisoner, will suddenly resort to sponsoringviolence when he no longer possess state power. And especially, whenthe world is already appreciating his peaceful statesmanlike conduct.

Further to that, one would want to agree with the Former President’soffice when it said in a statement on Thursday: “There is no doubtthat there exist such people who may have scores tosettle with the former President but are now feeling frustrated by thefact that his national and international profile has continued torise, despite their recourse to endless muck-raking characterassassination. Such people will stop at nothing to continue to throwobstacles, albeit futilely, on his path.”

Notwithstanding the animosity we hold against persons, it is onlyfair that we recognise fact for facts and sentiments as such. Whateveranyone would say of our leaders, past and present, we must identifytheir strengths and highlight, their weaknesses that are clearlyidentifiable.

Right now, the incumbentPresident Muhammadu Buhari hasamassed the image of a man of integrity. No one should attempt to takethat away from him by mere insinuations from faceless groups. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo handed over power peacefully in 1979. Thatreputation propelled him back to power in 1999. Whatever anyone wouldsay about General Ibrahim Babangida, it is on record he opened up thenation’s economy to a number of reforms.

The same way we have to give Jonathan credit for what he achievedwhile in office. His refrain was “My political ambition is not worththe blood of any Nigerian,” and he acted that practically. He ensured that there were reforms at the electoral front and gave freedom toINEC to the extent that the Commission became a government to itselfin contract awards. I guess there is nothing that would deny Jonathanas a man of peace. Many of his allies would say that he demonstratedthat to a fault and that his undoing was failing to smell danger atcertain stages. He stuck to his belief in the conduct of free and fair election and he accepted the bitter outcome. Rather than rack upunsubstantiated claims against the former President, critics need toplay fair. Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s, so says the Holy book. Even in conventional war, you don’t hit your opponent below the belt.