Think about the proverbial nail that sealed the coffin or the last straw that broke the camel’s back and imagine the erstwhile-President Goodluck’s feelings when the final election result from Borno State was being announced. Nigeria’s 2015 polls was rightly described as the most thrilling original blockbuster. An election, the aftermath of which will be wrung dry for weeks with media coverage all over the world. An epochal, historic and momentous event in the annals of Nigeria’s chequered history. There was no doubt about the keenness of people before and after the election. Eventually, a final small, almost delicate twist it is that was to unfold in the just concluded polls: the curious case of results from Borno State being announced last after all other States. Even when all other persons had preempted the elections by circulating congratulatory and triumphal messages, I still was glued to the TV set, patiently waiting for the last result from Borno to filter in. And when it did arrive, it carried alongside it a clear and lucid message for all. Borno evidently coming last in the order of annunciation, has Goodluck to solely blame for the sufferings upon it. This, I believe is the significance of election results from Borno State being the last to be announced. It wouldn’t be surprising to find most Nigerians not being able to draw the message from that significant fact. But the telltale signs were very obvious. It wasn’t just any random pattern. Divine Providence had neatly arranged for such an outcome so as to remind us all of the challenges of nationhood.
Borno State, in recent times has come to adequately symbolize what Nigeria has become: an intruder from within threatening the existence of the whole country. A nebulous and destructive sect hurling endless quantities of debris and sediments over the spread of the whole country’s geographical landmass. Countless scenes of disfigured and mangled bodies overflowing the streets. The chain reaction seemed endless; the destruction was relentless. The convulsions and holocaust in Borno went on as if they would never stop. The Boko Haram sect piled cataclysm upon cataclysm everywhere ill-winds blew them to. People sleeping with their two eyes wide open. People living in agonizing terror of the fear of the unknown.
Of course, the argument that a decision to launch out a frontal attack on the Boko Haram sect might be an irrational act, far out of proportion to the degree of provocation, a dangerous precedent which might turn public opinion against the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, but who was to say that the Draconian answer proposed was not the correct answer? Such that even if the Boko Haram sect initially thought Goodluck was bluffing, a thorough whipping at Baga or Chibok would tell them of his seriousness.
A government that could be so insensitive to public opinion is one which deserved no second chance. It might destroy the country when given the chance to do so. Former-President Jonathan had power, could use that power. He ought to have used that power,but regrettably he didn’t. He could have authorized the military to carry out a full-scale war on the devious Boko Haram sect. That was the most effective solution to the problem. It would be dire, of course, but so are the times. He would definitely have won the unflinching support of Borno and the whole Nigeria by a steadfast integrity, rather than parroting the opinions and advice of his aides without giving such opinions his own due consideration. When the Chibok girls issue arose, it had to take constant pleadings before Goodluck Jonathan summoned the courtesy to visit and sympathize with the traumatized parents of the girls. Goodluck Jonathan could only visit Baga after some degree of unpleasant pressure from various corners. His visits and subsequent reassurances to the people seemed like a well-scripted move, but that wasn’t what the people wanted. They needed to see a leader whom while feeling their pains would take a resolute action to ameliorate their woes. How then could he magically cave in months to the elections and expect to still win the hearts of Borno? I would be greatly amazed if Goodluck got a single vote from Chibok or Baga. Borno certainly holds a grudge, and it is a justified one. Here were a people being ravaged and wrecked by devastating consequences which someone had the power to stop, yet bluntly refuse to exercise such power. In all that grief there was an implicit howl for vengeance and the electorates’ votes achieved such, though in the most civilized manner. A national leader has to act for the public good, not out of his own personal ambition. To make the presidency work you could lead only by making everybody say, “Yes, for the good of the country and for the good of me.” If it takes haggling, outflanking, seducing and infiltrating bureaucracy, then so be it. Even if it requires throwing a few thunderbolts.
Not doing these things had been the fault of Goodluck as President. A man as intelligent as Goodluck should have known better. Rather, he was more concerned in exchanging brickbats with the main opposition, APC. The people of Borno were not interested in any political quarrels; all they wanted was to see peace and normalcy returned to their lives. They only wished to be taken as part of Nigeria.
The current dramatic change in Nigeria’s central government came with incredible suddenness. The Goodluck Presidency perhaps never saw it coming. Borno has given a clear feedback to Goodluck. An incumbent President defeated in the polling booth just in front of his own sitting-room is certainly something the former ruling party need look critically into. The decision of Borno’s electorates was hard on Goodluck but there is no fact to rest a case of sympathy for him. In truth, no known fact can serve as precedent for an incumbent President losing his seat at his re-election bid. However, one precept stands out: Nigerians have grown so politically conscious of the most insignificant political occurrence such that at the slightest instance, an underperforming office-occupier would be duly rewarded.
There are the moral and legal lessons to be learnt here, for those who want to learn anyway. It wouldn’t be out of turn to expect the political actors to decide what is in their own best interests. That is not unreasonable in politicians. However, for the vanquished, Borno has duly rewarded according to their riches in sorrow; and for the victor, they have sent a clear message that four years is just a matter of time. If it eventually comes and the victor is found wanting, then perhaps the same fate as befell the vanquished might befall the victor.
For the people in Borno, they would return to their normal lives, refreshed with a new hope, a desire to see a better society as they perceived a better society to be. This is true, of course, especially with the resounding message they have sent across to the whole of Nigeria. It behoves on the PDP to go home, nurse their wounds, have a rethink and come back in 2019. Maybe they would have learnt their valuable lessons then, the present errors behind them.
Leadership as far as ordinary reason allows is something which fence-sitting or fashionable public relations gimmicks should be divorced from. With due patriotism and diligence, a country’s leader would guide her in hard times to greatness. The hub and nub of this piece would apparently appear thus: it is certainly true of a political leader to be ambitious, that is the very essence of political life, but while being locked in the vault of ambition, a leader should have at the core of his heart a genuine interest of the people. Wherefore Virgil through the mouth of Dido captures it thus: “Harsh necessity, and my new kingdom, force me to do such things and to guard my frontiers everywhere.” Leaving on one side, then, those things which might be considered imaginary to wish of a Nigerian leader and speaking of reality, it is quite clear that a President is placed at a greater height, and is reputed for certain qualities which brings him either praise or blame. For the Goodluck administration, it has been a political dispensation characterized by systemic corruption and gross misconduct where the rule of law was unduly sacrificed on the altar of malfeasance and arbitrariness. That was what Borno set out to cure.
BY COLLINS ARIKOR.