Irrespective of what happens on February 14, 2015, the day after the 2015 presidential election is concluded, all eyes will be on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
That realization made me go back to what I wrote the day after President Jonathan won the April 16, 2011 presidential election. I called the piece, “Why I Joined PDP Last Sunday.”
“I used to think that what was important was reforming and restructuring Nigeria so that power would no longer be concentrated at the center. For long, I had wished that people in the hinterlands of Nigeria would grow at their own pace and control their own resources and environment. I used to think that it would help bring about genuine leadership responsive to the people if the power of the federal government was limited. I even let myself believe that it would spur competitions across the board.
“I thought the storm was perfect-that we were at the dawn of something drastic. I thought that the government was irredeemably corrupt and unjust. I thought members of the elite were no longer going to defend a government that was putting the future of Nigeria on the auction block. I thought a cross section of Nigerians saw what I saw. But I was wrong. I was myopic. Even at this old age, I allowed “youthful exuberance” to ruin my mental state.
“I did not know that what really mattered was that a humble man named Goodluck Jonathan, who comes from my side of the country and is a Christian, like me, is president. I did not know that having a man of his caliber, with a PhD to boot, was what we needed. He will maintain stability and bring about transformational change in Nigeria. He has shown signs of that in the last one year. And now that he has got his own full mandate, he will rock the boat. Like a good sailor that he is, he will paddle the boat in such a way that characters like Tony Anineh, Olusegun Obasanjo and Andy Uba, who in many ways helped him to win the election, will slip out of the boat and into the warm waters of Nigeria where sharks will feast on their bodies.
“I was going bananas. But I didn’t need to. After all, Jonathan has appointed an Igbo man as the Chief of Army Staff. He has promised to build the second Niger Bridge. And he has transformed Enugu airport into an International Airport. He also made Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho the Minister for Internal Affairs- the first Igbo man to hold that sensitive post. What else do I want as an Igbo man?
“The Chief of Army staff and his brother have shown the advantages of having an Igbo man in such an important post. In Imo State, they are using soldiers to ensure that our beloved son, Gov. Ikedi Ohakim, is reelected governor of the state. They are not going to let the Northerners(Rochas Okorocha, et, al) come and take over Imo State. And my grandson is now guaranteed to be the next Army Chief of Staff - thanks to General Azubike Ihejirika. And with Iheanacho at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, no Igbo man or woman will again be killed in Northern Nigeria.
“I can now fly non-stop to Enugu airport from Washington DC. In fact, there is a plan to organize free flights to Enugu on Christmas Day. No more stopping in Lagos to pay taxes to Gov. Babatunde Fashola. What could be better than that?
“Also, an indestructible second Niger bridge is in the offing. It is a bridge that no bomb can damage. So why worry?
“I have always thought the thousands of deaths on our roads would continue. I thought poor health care would keep killing our people. I thought lack of electric power would persist and continue to hinder growth. I was genuinely worried that members of our political elite were irresponsible. Little did I know that all I was seeing were just rehearsals. The real show starts now that President Jonathan has won a term in office on his own right. Things will improve so dramatically that Nigerians’ new refrain will be, ‘I told you so.’”
The piece above was published on April 20, 2011. Though I didn’t get to technically join the PDP (Reuben Abati actually did that for me), I have spent the last four years watching as the greatest party in Africa fulfills the promises it made to voters in 2011.
Unlike what I did in 2011, this time, I am not wasting my time listening to the new promises of today or even debating if the person making the promises can deliver. I’m not arguing with anybody about what our priorities should be- security, rule of law, due process, equity, justice etc. I don’t care if the generality of our people have come to realize that if we don’t deal with corruption it will swallow us all.
Last time, I almost went bananas. I’m not looking at what will happen in the next four years. I have since discovered that four years come so fast and go even faster.
Moreover, thinking about the next four years means that I must be motivated enough to count the number of people that Boko Haram will kill. I don’t think that is fair for a heart like mine that has gone through a lot in the last four years.
Never mind that our Naira is losing it’s value, the Russian Ruble is also losing value. The dollar should have been losing value too. But you know Americans, they like to show off. The undisputable fact is that Nigeria is already the largest economy in Africa with Africa’s richest man as one of our own. So, I don’t want to anticipate any new economic grounds we will break in four years. Whatever we do, it wouldn’t be bigger than the ones we have accomplished. It isn’t as if we can build enough hydro, solar, nuclear power pants to have 24-hour electricity in four years. Dangote said we could not - you know if we could he would know. It is not as if we can build enough refineries to provide us fuel at a reasonable cost for citizens of an oil producing nation. It is not as if we can stamp out Boko Haram just like that, when Pakistan and Afghanistan are still fighting terrorism dozens of years after theirs started. Despite his efforts and good intentions, it is not as if the warships Tompolo bought for us can stop oil thefts that have cost us billions of dollars in the last four years when the people who buy the stolen oil do not want to help us stop them.
So you can see why I’m restricting myself to thinking ahead-to Wednesday, May 29, 2019. That is the day that a new president will be sworn in Nigeria. And that president will neither be Goodluck Jonathan nor Muhammadu Buhari. Thinking about May 29, 2019, changes my whole perspective of today–especially the noise Nigerians make.