Former President Jonathan remains my son (1)
ORDINARILY at my age and position in life, I should not have to justify myself in a press controversy on my voluntary decision to quit partisan politics particularly when this personal and well intended act has come under unfair politicization of persons of mediocre temperament.
For a couple of days now, I have been more bemused than angry by the not-so-funny, but, predictably, negative ingenuity of Nigerians, aided by an equally incredulous media, to create unpleasant things out of nothing. It has been a circus of those convinced that they have found a peg to hang their own, disloyalty, failure, shallowness and hatred unto, a ball to kick around, over my statement, not for the first time, that I was quitting partisan politics and my statement about former President Goodluck Jonathan, for reasons so obvious that I cannot understand what the orgy of self-flagellation is all about.
I still believe that former President Jonathan performed creditably well in various areas. I am very proud of him and so are millions of other Nigerians. He was good in so many areas, and did many good things for this nation. He resuscitated the railway system that was comatose for several decades; he engineered a robust economy for this nation; he fought against Polio and Ebola; maternal and child health; he did much for the Power Sector upon which President Muhammadu Buhari is now building; he tarred more roads than any of his predecessors; he turned agriculture to agro-business, a multibillion dollar business; he built the Almajiri schools in the Northern parts of this Country; he established new Federal Universities across this nation; he allowed for free speech across this nation, and did not mind when he was criticised or, even, abused; people were not arbitrarily locked up in jail or prison, as he truly respected the Rule of Law; he signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law, which was not done by his predecessors; he modernized the Aviation Sector; he convoked a National Conference that brought Nigerians together and proffered recommendations on how to better bind Nigerians together as one; he sanitized the electoral system of this country, unlike what we had before him, when elections results were announced without actually voting, when ballot snatching were rampant and common place, he brought transparency into the electoral process, when people could vote and the votes actually openly counted without violence.
Today he stands as the first African president to concede an election to an opponent, even before the final counts. There are many more achievements to his record, but because of time and space let me end here for now. These are all lasting legacies that he has left behind. He has certainly set a precedent for others to follow.
But no human being is perfect; only God is perfect. Therefore, to mention an area of former President Jonathan’s inaction may not be out of place. Every leader in this world has their fault. President Jonathan cannot be an exception. As the late British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan observed in his autobiography, politicians do not regret their mistakes because they can always explain themselves; but they never forgive themselves for opportunities they have lost.
For instance, President Barack Obama of United States of America is frequently attacked for not having the political will to deal with Israel over the Palestinian question. This does not mean that he lacks the capacity to take action against Israel effectively or to deal with the affairs of the United States of America or that he lacks integrity.
Several years ago, the entire Western world was being accused of lacking political will to deal with Apartheid South Africa. This did not mean any inaction of the Western countries by the rest of the world. It only means that President Obama and the Statesmen of the western world had other considerations in their minds in the interest of their countries.
In keeping with my character I cannot say in private what I cannot say in the public. I do not therefore, reject or disown Jonathan as my beloved political son.
• To be continued tomorrow.
• Chief (Dr.) Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, OFR, CON is a veteran politician.