By Simon Ebegbulem
In a season of partisan frenzy, fair and objective reaction to matters in the public square is indeed a strenuous undertaking. This is even more so when folks who (mis)speak don the toga of leaders. But, perhaps, more importantly, democracy would lose its defining egalitarianism if it foreclosed the free expression of viewpoints by its adherents- including often unreasoned perspectives that seek to diminish and ridicule.
One example of such perspective which curiously stood facts on the head was from former President Goodluck Jonathan who has strangely alleged that the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, His Excellency, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was responsible for vote-buying in Nigeria and, for good measure, added that “he is suffering from multiple personality syndrome.” To be sure, Jonathan was responding to Oshiomhole’s claim that he (Jonathan) introduced the scourge in the 2015 presidential election.
Further crying more than the bereaved, a suspicious scenario in African culture, the ex-president also expressed worry that Oshiomhole “is currently operating under tremendous stress,” striving to give new direction to the APC, “as the new leader of his party.” Worse was that Jonathan descended to the surprisingly low level of attacking the personality of Oshiomhole. The purpose of such approach is strangely unclear. Assaulting the personality of the APC national chairman is simply argumentum ad hominem and should not have been part of the narrative by the ex-president.
Outside Utopia, the position of national chairmanship of any ruling political party in any democracy on earth, worthy of that name, is hardly a picnic. If Jonathan really made that later observation in good faith, then it would have been pointless responding. But we all know he did not.
To Jonathan’s weightier, cleverly contrived allegations. If the allegation that the APC national chairman is having psychological issues with the even more specific reference to “multiple personality syndrome,” came from a doctor of human medicine with specialization in psychology, it could debatably enjoy some merit. But Jonathan is a zoologist from the swamps of Otuoke. This is clearly veering from his turf and unworthy of further debate.
Probably still retaining some remnant of conscience after a disastrous presidency, he was stung when APC national chairman recently correctly accused him specifically and his party of birthing vote-buying and encouraging electoral fraud in Nigeria. After unseemly name-calling, the former president without even addressing the core points raised by Comrade Oshiomhole, felt the easier path was to counter-accuse the APC leader with exactly the same damning allegation.
But he woefully failed to prove his point. This was not surprising. Comrade Oshiomhole who is incidentally a former governor of Edo State for eight outstanding years has excelled in three key turfs of his life and more: as a labour leader, governor and now the national chair of the ruling party.
A quick fact-check will disclose that Jonathan invented vote-buying as was witnessed in 2015, in Edo State when he injected billions of naira as well as other states of the nation desperately buying votes to ensure he got a futile second chance as President.
Out of desperation Jonathan injected over N5 billion through PDP leaders with a view to forcefully influencing Edo electorate into voting PDP. This was why the PDP was able to corner two senatorial seats in the state and got a majority of the House of Representatives’ seats against the wish of the electorate in Edo State.
At press time, PDP leaders in Edo are currently in court over the funds the ex-president deployed to buy votes in the state. If he had worked hard even for his constituents in the South-South as President, he would not have had any cause to voyage into vote buying. What transpired served as a deadly behavior modification for innocent voters and skewed their consciousness to the awareness they could now make money before voting for candidates.”
INEC as the electoral umpire should move to prosecute Jonathan for being a harbinger of vote-buying. At press time, Jonathan’s cronies are either on the run or singing in different courtrooms on how they converted funds meant for purchase of arms and ammunition in the fight against insurgency to buy votes for the ex-president.
Today, some of the ill-fated underhand strategies Jonathan deployed to win elections are no longer secrets. The humongous amounts – the Dasuki cash, Diezani loot, et cetera, that the EFCC has uncovered in connection with funding the 2015 presidential election and buying votes are now well known.
It is worth recalling here that in its 16 years in power, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, betrayed considerable hope. Instead of strengthening democracy and promoting good governance, the party was bedeviled by indiscipline and a compelling failure to exercise power to the benefit of Nigerians. The PDP had with a strange consistency violated the constitutional primacy of free and fair elections as the only way of choosing a leader.
The administration of Jonathan did not deviate from the flawed vision or governance impunities of the PDP. Vote-buying is a sad product of PDP’s uninspiring history. It has no place in the patriotic vision of APC. So how can ex-President Jonathan have the moral grounds to attack the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, who is initiating transformational template of party governance for a popular party on a rescue mission.
Whereas, while the erstwhile ruling party, now in opposition, was expected to mirror the ideals of its founding mentors, it rather strangely chose a pathway at odds with strengthening democracy. Its expected historic mission is to build a modern democratic state founded on justice, equity and fair play clearly came to naught. It is then very clear why Nigerians kicked the party out.
Before he became president, the most important credential that was used in marketing the Jonathan brand was his apparent lucky streak in matters of political ascendancy. It’s rather pointless quarreling with his luck. To be propelled from the dark anonymity of a mere local government councillor in the creeks of the Niger Delta to the marbled vaults of presidential power in Abuja must appeal to those who believe in luck.
But must the zoologist from the swamps of Otuoke make a preoccupation of pushing his luck by feeding unresearched falsehood on critical political issues to Nigerians? Certainly not. On the issue of vote-buying in Nigeria, Jonathan clearly goofed on Oshiomhole.
· Ebegbulem is Chief Press Secretary to APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.